Drowning In Blackwater

Iraq’s sovereign, yeah, that’s the ticket.

Following an incident that resulted in the deaths of 8-11 civilians and the injuring of thirteen more, the Iraqi government has moved to ban the contracted security company Blackwater.  If only life were so simple.

The incident occured over the weekend when an explosion in the near vicinity of a Blackwater caravan resulted in seemingly random small arms fire from the contracted security firm.

The firm, which is only several hundred men strong in Iraq, plays a vital behind the scenes role in providing security for the US Embassy there as well as upper level US Officials.

Iraqi displeasure with the actions of private contractors from the US is nothing new, and grumblings have been heard from the onset of the occupation.  But if Iraqi’s believe that being sovereign includes having the right to oust or prosecute perpetuators of what they believe to be criminal acts, they are obviously not familiar with the Bush Administration’s definition of “sovereign.”

As Spencer Ackerman points out, apparently the Iraqi government is powerless to prosecute Blackwater as a result of a thus far still valid decree by the now defunct CPA which “immuniz[ed] security contractors from Iraqi prosecution and plac[ed] their operations under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.”

On top of that, as Iraqslogger points out, many Blackwater employees currently in Iraq are there under diplomatic passports granting them diplomatic immunity.  Imagine one of these Blackwater guys going up to the Iraqi government and taunting them, “You can’t even give me a parking ticket.”

While it’s still early to tell whether Iraq will be successful in their attempts to put an end to Blackwater’s employment within their own borders, given the apparently integral role the security firm is playing in Iraq at this point, it is likely that such attempts will meet with resistence from the US.

Which says something about who’s really in charge over there.  As a friend who put me onto this story wondered in an email, how on earth can we believe any attempts to call Iraq sovereign if we don’t even allow them to enforce the laws as they see fit?

Much like the Iraq Oil Law, it’s kinda hard to swallow that our administration is working for a free and sovereign Iraq when everything else seems to point to the contrary.

10 Responses to “Drowning In Blackwater”

  1. Macswain says:

    Blackwater ain’t leaving. Larry Johnson’s got it right. Somebody at the Interior Ministry jumped the gun on “pulling their license,” whatever that means. Maybe it was done to further undermine Al Maliki. But one thing’s for sure. Blackwaters presence in Iraq is too integral to the security of so many players, their departure just isn’t going to happen.

    They’ll pay some fine or make some other such showing of contrition. Maybe change their dba for their Iraq venture something like Crystal Springs Security.

  2. Ah yes, because that will fix EVERYTHING!

  3. Shawn says:

    We need to disband these mercenary armies. They are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, like one of the comments stated, Blackwater is not going to leave. Who’s going to make them? The U.S. military has their hands full and the Iraqi army can’t even tie their own shoes.

  4. Very much in agreement. You know, there’s a movie, and it should be out in theaters right now if you haven’t seen it, it’s called No End In Sight. I remember watching the screener months back, and I gotta tell you, it covers some of the damage both done and received by contracted mercenaries, and it’s not pretty.

    Here’s my primary beef; they aren’t subject to the UCMJ, which provides a means of our soldiers acting in a professional manner even in the heart of war, and if they don’t, they are swiftly (and I mean SWIFTLY) brought to justice for their malfeasance.

    But to agree with that would be to admit that we should probably worry about PR in IRAQ and not just here in the US which apparently this administration doesn’t believe in, so there you go.

  5. Laura says:

    Maybe we could get the ball rolling by throwing them out of the US; we are powerless as well. I mean which is more scary: terrorist groups operating unchecked or tax-payer sanctioned, private, unaccountable ‘security’ companies; or how about both threats in this country? I just saw a little ‘feel-good’ piece on my local news last night about how incredibly helpful Blackwater was in assisting after the levees broke?…What?!! They have a wonderful training camp in my state for them (and our local police train with them apparently), so the newscasters were hoping this would all get favorably resolved. Sing along now, O’er the land of the free (to shop) and the home of the ‘fraid. These guys give me nightmares, that’s for sure. I won’t be civilly disobeying anytime soon. I’m a big chicken.

  6. No, you might get tased.

    Seriously, I don’t know much about Blackwater itself, but if I get time tonight I’ll do some research, maybe put a composite up if I get enough data. What I do know is that while much of the focus is on the military in Iraq, we’ve had private contractors in the country from day one, and they’ve been prone to not act in a professional manner, and in at least one instance, they paid a heavy and dear price for it.

    Here’s my official stance on the thing, and I mentioned it in my last comment. The key thing about the military is that they are subjected to the UCMJ, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It sets a higher standard on military service members for behavior than the constitution, state, and federal law, and is perhaps the best tool we have as a country to make sure that our military forces display the highest levels of professional behaviors even on the field of battle.

    Private organizations, not being part of the military, are therefore not subjected to the standards set by the UCMJ, but further are not also subjected to the swift enforcement of that code. This is exactly how things like this come about, and it does absolutely nothing positive for our position in Iraq. If Iraq is in such a precarious position, why do we abide this behavior?

    Again, while Bush and his followers accuse the “defeatists” of sending the wrong message, he is more guilty of the accusation than those he accuses. Again, by not promptly dismissing Blackwater for less than professional behavior, he is sending the same message that has been constantly pounded into the minds of the Iraqis from the beginning of the occupation; the US doesn’t really care about Iraqis.

  7. mick says:

    Technically, the contractors aren’t legally accountable to anybody. They can’t be sued or disciplined by anyone, not the military, the Iraqi govt or the US govt. They’re not subject to the UCMJ, Bremer’s CPA order denies the Iraqi govt any power over them, and the ruling in the Custer Battles case denies the application of any US law to US firms doing business in Iraq because the CPA was – get this – “a sovereign govt separate from the US”, which would presumably cover the activities of Blackwater since the CPA laws appear to remain in force.

    Needless to say, this is the first time in our history that 3 sets of laws have been deliberately structured to leave US businesses overseas completely outside any law whatsoever. IOW, lawless.

    There’s more to this than meets the eye, but no time now. Off to see the Wizard.

  8. Wow, that’s awesome, how do I get a company whose only overseeing authority is a government that does not exist?

  9. mick says:

    Well, judging by Custer Battles, a classic example of how it’s done, you go to work for the RNC and make a lot of Republican contacts. Then, when the Republican president starts a war, you form a company – on paper is good enough – for which you have no expertise and in which you have no experience. Then you show the prospectus to your Republican friends in the admin, who promptly cut you a no-bid $$multi-Million$$ contract for your services.

    After that bit of pro-forma business is concluded, you head for the war zone, where young, naive, heavily ideological “free market” Pub capitalists disguised as occupation govt employees have been given cargo planes full of pallets stacked with bundles of fresh $100 bills that they’re handing out to US contractors by the duffel bag without counting or recording any of it.

    With your profits already in hand, you double-bill the US for services you didn’t provide and employees you don’t have. Then, making sure to repaint equipment already on scene with your logo, you send more bills to the govt to reimburse you for the cost of the equipment you didn’t provide. This is all pure profit, of course, since you haven’t yet spent any more than whatever your plane ticket cost (unless you hitched a ride on a military plane, naturally).

    Now comes the tricky part. You have to join with other contractors in the war zone – political heavyweights like Halliburton and KBR – to pressure the Provisional Governor to order immunity from prosecution for all US companies doing business in the war zone. But this isn’t all that difficult since the Pres is backing you and when the first ProvGov refuses to write such an order, he’s quickly replaced by someone who will. At that point, you’re home free.

    Not all that hard, actually. The toughest part is making the connections with corrupt Republicans (I know, I’m being redundant). From there on, it’s a breeze.

    But I don’t think you’ve got time for that before the Iran War starts. You should’ve made your move to ingratiate yourself 6 months ago. Might be worth a try, tho. I mean, if you make it, you rake in $$millions$$ you don’t actually have to do anything for except be in the right place at the right time. It’s a pretty soft gig.

  10. yeah, I remember the whole repainting scam. You make some phone calls, I’ll go get some buckets of paint, and we’re in business. I know the Iran war could come any day now, but the closest thing to a hard timeline shows it still 8 to 10 months, that might just be enough to do the trick.


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