Increasingly, nations are deploying private security contractors to troubled and remote parts of the world.

Beyond the scope of democratic accountability, opaque and operating beyond and around international law – they are proving to be useful agents of diplomacy and proxy wars.

But there have been well-publicised failures. In 2007, Blackwater contractors killed 17 unarmed Iraqis and injured 24 others. Blackwater went on to change its name to Academi and continues to provide services to the Pentagon around the world.

Also in Iraq, the Pentagon hired CACI Premier Technology to run the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. The logistics company is alleged to have told military police to soften up prisoners for interrogation.

And it is estimated the US government lost as much as $60bn to

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