A cabal of private contractors, closely aligned with the Bush administration and usually employing ex military officers, now dominates the U.S. national security state and by extension, much of the world. In the duplicitous War on Terror, mercenary armies like DynCorp, Blackwater USA, KBR, Custer Battles, and Aegis plunder Iraq and other victims of Pax Americana, operating with no rules of engagement and near-total legal immunity, usually earning at least four times the salaries of enlisted U.S. soldiers. When not on urban patrol, these gangs provide security for U.S. diplomats, lucrative oil fields, and profiteering reconstruction contractors like Bechtel, Fluor corporation, and Halliburton. The Hartford Courant calculated a total of 180,000 individual private contractors operating in Iraq, along with 169,000 U.S. soldiers. Mercenaries are frequently linked to illegal arms dealing, resembling a privatized Iran-Contra network. On Sept. 22, the AP reported, Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Blackwater USA employees illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Today, these soldiers of fortune possess an apocalyptic array of weapons capable of converting Planet Earth into a pile of dust, or at best, a police-state control grid. But in the face of permanent annihilation, too many Americans wallow in whirlpools of systematic denial, avoiding this existential crisis because its depressing or boring. Others parrot puerile propaganda about Islamofascism. But those hoping to prevent further bloodshed should consider more salient questions: What are the real costs of Americas permanent wartime economy? Should private armies remain legally immune? Exactly which mercenaries control the future of warfare, surveillance, and ultimately, human destiny? And how can they be stopped before leading to a new Thirty Years War?