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September 19, 2007


I said it before.

Without the security contractors, the USA will be severly hampered in Iraq. The military will be fine, but the reconstruction, the aid, the diplomatic initiatives, etc., will grind to a halt.

"Question: Is this an reflection of rising violence against American personnel, as some have suggested?"

I think it is a practicality. Tinted window SUV convoy firing on a car with a young couple; reports of the ensuing fire fusing a child's corpse to the mother; a melee in the aftermath, including a Blackwater Helicopter gunships, killed 20 more people.

This sort of thing gets people riled up, I'd imagine.
They probably want to keep the Blackwater excorted convoys out of the public eye until the outrage wears off.

On the other hand there is certainly a sovereignty issue; I can see why an occupied country might object to private contractors beyond the reach of law flying military aircraft overhead and blasting away when they feel it necessary.

Does anyone know if there is any law governing the behavior of contractors in Iraq? UCMJ?

corrections: gunship, escorted

This looks like an preemptive attempt to prevent the coming violent backlash against the US mercenaries. At the least this will take the heat off our troops, at most we may have a new separate war between the Iraqi people and the US mercenaries. While I have sympathies for the Mercenaries as humans; what did they expect for over $100k/year each? A security guard job checking for unlocked doors on an empty building?

Obviously the administration will blame Al Qaeda.

Do you think there is an issue with getting people out of bagdad, in large quantities? In the sense of shooting down planes and bombing caravans?? It seems like this good be risky? How would you hide a mass exodus? We assume they want us to leave, but I think it's safe to assume at least some of them just want us dead.

lordy...this could be risky business as opposed to "good be".

drational - supposedly as of Jan this year they were tented under the military law umbrella. Not done before and lots of questions with regard to it. The other problem with that is there has been a whole rash lately of the results of "military law" applications to deliberate murder and/or rampage killings of unarmed, non-hostile, civilians. The Iraqis aren't likely to feel very heartened over those rulings. Over time, the most frequent military reaction to killings of civilians has been to find guilty if the evidence is overwhelming, but then require no time, 60 days green zone, or outright commutation of all sentence.

I left some links on a prior thread, but I think there are lots of things going on, including the fact that there is a resentment in most countries to SOFA agreements - in the region, resentment to a US SOFA agreement helped lead to govt overthrow. Over and over as sovereignty was coming into play, there was a reluctance to confront the issue head on with the Iraqi leadership (stories about not wanting to have such a waiver be the first act of the govt, etc.) so they have tried to backdoor CPA order 17 and all of that was fine while Maliki as compliant.

No country in the region can safely come out in favor of even a normal SOFA for the US and Iraq - much less the kind of Bushie powergrabbing overreaching new version of a SOFA that includes Contractors.

Regarding the issue of sovereignty, the presence of the Blackwater militia in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, funded by the American taxpayer or through transfers of government funds to military and civilian contractors, immune from prosection and congressional oversight, is as much an affront to the soverignty of the American people as it is to the Iraqis, although the Iraqis bear the immediate and deadly consequences. Blackwater is essentially Cheney's militia in Iraq, like the Mahdi army or the Sunni warlords.

It might be awkward if a few State Department and other convoys were halted by the Iraqi military and all Blackwater guards were arrested and summarily ejected from Iraq after being, ahem, aggresively frisked for hidden weapons or Mars bars. You know, like the Bush administration does with Welsh/Sikh musicologists at SFO airport; you never know when an expert on Elgar will want you frogmarched out of the White House.

JohnJ - you make a good point. If they are carrying automatic weapons, and from time to time they kill people; if they're wearing protective armor, and they are not in the occupying US military force or the occupying militaries of any of the 37 coalition countries – yes, it's hard to say 'coalition countries' with a straight face - then they would be called mercenaries, not security contractors.

I saw in EW's recent article where Blackwater's US gov’mint contracts are worth $800 million. I wonder how much business Blackwater does with private interests in Iraq, and by what legal principle Blackwater is immune from accountability for murder, manslaughter or accidental civilian deaths.

Maybe it’s time to update Sarbanes-Oxley and require companies like Blackwater to keep statistics on human casualties as a part of their cost of doing business.

"Withdrawal" might take on a whole new meaning if the big-shot Americans had to leave the safety of the Green Zone and live without any security and under the horrible conditions we expect the Iraqis to live with since we liberated them.

The fact is that they have not been held accountable. Not in one single instance has a mercenary been charged with any crime against an Iraqi in four years of occupation, not under the Iraqi law, because the United States gutted the Iraqi legal system. At a time when it said it was handing over sovereignty, they were saying, “You can [can’t — sic] prosecute these contractors for crimes committed in your country.”

They haven’t been held accountable under the court martial system, nor have they been held accountable under civilian law inside the United States. So either we have tens of thousands of Boy Scouts working in Iraq as mercenaries or something is fundamentally rotten with the system.

- Jeremy Scahill

drational - I think Mary said this in the earlier thread she referred you to, but my understanding is that the mercs specifically contracted to the Defense Dept., ie military, have tentatively been placed under the UCMJ but there are no rules yet for how that will work and none have been so handled. The other mercs are still in unregulated limbo as far as I know. I am not positive on this, but think that is the case.

I hate blackwater and I hate the concept of blackwater. Their expulsion or attempted expulsion will be the best thing the Iraq govt. has done.

It would be interesting to find out how many of these mercs are members of the Army, Marine, Navy or Air Force reserves and have been allowed to serve in "security" capacities with these mercenary armies. If so, it could be argued that they are still subject to the UCMJ and could be prosecuted for crimes committed in Iraq against Iraqis'. We know that a whole lot of them are former military and I find it hard to believe that they have all fulfilled their 8 year obligation, as news stories tell of numbers of recent discharges signing up as mercs and returning to Iraq as private contractors.

Why is Blackwater being blamed for the deaths? Insurgents were there shooting.

Because Blackwater mercenaries pulled the trigger and killed unarmed civilians.

Are you really as dense as you act, or is it an act?

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