Monday, September 17, 2007

Blackwater: Bad news.

The WaPo reports:

"The Iraqi government said today it has revoked the license of Blackwater USA, a private security company that guards U.S. Embassy personnel in Iraq following a shootout in downtown Baghdad on Sunday that left at least nine people dead."

This is really no big surprise, Blackwater mercenaries are pretty well known for blasting down Iraqi streets running people off the road and sometimes opening fire when feeling the least bit threatened. The problem with them is that they really make Iraqis see red when they see any Americans, private contractors or our soldiers.

If you listened to ATC tonight report this story, you'd think Blackwater was just this normal company that just happens to be in the business of providing security to our State Department personnel. The "expert" they picked to interview on Blackwater was Mark Hemingway who isn't exactly too over critical of their mission. His article in the Weekly Standard about Blackwater is informative but it's kind of gushing and doesn't really get into the whole Christian Right agenda of the corporation.

Jeremy Scahill in his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army is a little more in depth. Terry Gross interviewed him recently on Fresh Air and it almost blew my mind. Read a transcript thoughtfully provided by The Scribe.

What's really interesting about this case in Iraq is that it has highlighted how lawless the firm is. Jeremy Scahill points out the firm has hired such legal eagles as Fred Fielding, Bush's lawyer, and Kenneth Starr to help them worm their way out of law suits and Congressional oversight.


"Blackwater has essentially declared its forces above any effective law while resisting attempts to have its private forces subjected to the Pentagon's court martial system. Blackwater also claims this immunity from civilian litigation. In fact the only law Blackwater wants applied to its forces is one that has no teeth and has not been enforced in Iraq or elsewhere. The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, which is a law that says contractors operating in the war zone should be subjected to the US criminal court system. The fact is that there are 100,000 contractors in Iraq and only one has been indicted on any kind of charges."

Good luck to al-Maliki trying to get these guys out of Iraq.

And if you think they're just a bunch of mercenaries that operate in foreign countries, think again. Read Scahill's article in the Nation about their stint in New Orleans after Katrina. Very scary.

[Previous posts about Blackwater.]


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