Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Up to one-half of the $14 trillion in Pentagon spending since the start of the global war on terror in 2001 has gone to defense contractors, according to a report released Monday.
The Pentagon's increasing reliance on private contractors during the 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attacks has created deep questions of accountability, transparency and effectiveness, the Brown University study found.
In the report, entitled Profits of War: Corporate Beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 Pentagon Spending Surge, author William Hartung of Brown's Center for International Policy found that some of the corporate war-on-terror profits "are widely considered legitimate."
Others, however, "were the consequence of questionable or corrupt business practices that amount to waste, fraud, abuse, price-gouging or profiteering.
"This is problematic because privatizing key functions can reduce the U.S. military's control of activities that occur in war zones while increasing risks of waste, fraud and abuse," he found.
The report, part of Brown's ongoing Costs of War project, arrived just weeks after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which 123,000 troops, diplomats and allies were hastily evacuated from the country as Taliban insurgents quickly captured every major city and seized governmental control.
It also comes two days after the nation observed the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which precipitated the global war on terror.
In a separate report released this month, the Brown researchers estimated the cost of the war on terror since 2001 now stands at $8 trillion and has resulted in 900,000 deaths.
The calculations include all direct spending for the country's post-9/11 wars, including Department of Defense funding, State Department war expenditures and both past and future care for veterans, as well as funds that the Biden administration requested in May.
The death toll includes U.S. military members, allied fighters, opposition fighters, civilians, journalists and humanitarian aid workers who were killed as a direct result of war, but It does not include the many indirect deaths due to disease, displacement and loss of access to food or clean drinking water, the researchers said.