For an update on my post about mercenaries, see the latest from TomDispatch, who, along with many other statistics we would do well to pay heed to, informs us that:
"Number of armed "private contractors" now in Iraq: at least 20,000-30,000, according to the Washington Post. (Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller Blackwater, puts the figure for all private contractors in Iraq at 126,000.) ".
Meanwhile, Robert Sheer provides a valuable case study.