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October 24, 2007

Comments

Um, can you spell out that last sentence a little more for the slow among us?

I'm guessing you're saying that all the contractors have been under StateDept control, and if they leave then State leaves too and DoD owns the country in a way that it didn't previously? Because State was actually checking DoD out there on the ground, somehow?

I have no clue if there is a meaningful division of labor between State DoD and CIA on the ground in Iraq, although if there is, then presumably policy would change meaningfully if one actor was forced out of country.

Please don't tell me I'm going to be forced into the position of rooting for the continued presence of contractors in Iraq. If I'm forced to support Blackwater et al as the lesser evil to some even greater evil, I may collapse into a quivering mumbling gelatin.

Is it just me, or what?

DOS doesn't have the resources in-country to provide for its own security so they approach the DOD, who under Rumsfeld blows them off. So they contract it out to Blackwater et al who do an outstanding job of winning hearts and minds. (/snark) So, DOS assigns departmental babysitters/security personnel to ride shotgun (literally?) with BW to see to it that they play nice. That is, babysitters of whom they didn't have enough of to start with which is why they contracted baby sitting out to BW et al in the first place.

What am I missing here?

Aw nuts. I forgot a link (which is in now--sorry). But yeah, Minnesotachuck, that's the idea. State (and CIA) needs its own army because DOD won't do what they want them to do.

I'm having trouble with that last sentence to: "Or at least cede it to DOD entirely, in which case it'll become nothing more than the launching ground for Dick Cheney's next war." Isn't Gates thought to still have a foot in the reality based universe and hence some lack of desire to launch the US military off into another war? Or am I overestimating the "realists"?

What really puzzles me is where did DOS get the babysitters to babysit the contractors who were hired because they didn't have enough babysitters in the first place.

Given the volume of outsourced security contracts and the level of violence and chaos in Iraq, it seems a day late and a dollar short for Ms. Condi to be taking a hard look at how much taxpayer money she's spending on her contractors, not to mention taking a harder look at the terms of those no doubt tightly woven contracts. But then actually managing their agencies in the public interest has never been what George Bush's cabinet understood was expected of them.

On a related note, are we to expect Blackwater staff to be first on the ground in Southern California the way they were in New Orleans? At the same nauseating multiple over the cost of National Guard or federal troops? With what terms of engagement and what liability for violating them? Perhaps Sen. Boxer will take up those questions when she returns from SoCal. Sen. Feinstein can be relied on to do nothing about them at all.

Sen. Feinstein can be relied on to do nothing about them at all.

Or just as likely, find a "bipartisan" way forward under which Dickie Blum gets a cut of the action.

But I agree with Marcy, the administration hasn't backpedaled on anything to this degree since maybe the DOJ scandal started to drift south earlier in the year. They're freaking out about something.

Keep in mind the Shah's SOFA with the US played a big propaganda role leading up to the taking of power by ayatollahs in Iran.

al-Sadr is very well aware of it and it is probably a quasi unifying element in Iraq (the hatred of contractors and dislike of the concept of immunity). So he has been cementing himself in the south and Basra, and, despite US provocative bombing, has told his followers around Baghdad to hold back - all the while playing with Maliki on this contractors card to see where they can force the US, on this very public stage.

EW, just read your link regarding your "cede it entirely" comment, and I am curious, do you think DOD control of all contractors would be a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing? I don't have much faith in the CIA, but I don't have any faith in DOD at the moment since only loyal Bushies get promoted, which suggests independent competence is largely a thing of the past. Plus, given Congress' knee jerk inclination to defer to DOD in all things so they don't appear weak in supporting the troops, it occurs to me that putting the contractors under DOD control would make it impossible for Congress to do anything to either rein them in or remove them entirely. Of course, the latter point may be exactly what Bush and Gates are banking on.

And then issued still more guidelines--basically teaching those thugs how to act like guests in someone else's country.

I'd love to be at that presentation.

Slide 1: Don't kill people unless you have to.
Slide 2: Never address a woman directly.
Slide 3: Don't kill ANYONE unless you really, really have to.
Slide 4: Never use your left hand to eat.
Slide 5: We really can't stress this enough -- don't shoot anybody unless it's required.
Slide 6: Try not to make too much noise during the call to prayer.
Slide 7: Stabbing people is also not ok.

Seriously.

A couple of points to add to EW's post...

The DoS has a large program contracted out to two or three different companies (including, I believe, DynCorp and Blackwater) to train a civilian police force in Iraq. Considering that most of the civilian police that they train are either targeted afterward by insurgents or were insurgents to begin with, how effective is the program?

Contracting firms like Blackwater (and probably DynCorp) are overrun with retired military personnel who are making very handsome salaries compared to what they made in the military. Many left the military just because they could make so much more working for such companies. Put them back under DoD control -- with the underlings making so much more than the honchos -- and there will not be an Army left to fight...

inkadu -- You forgot one:

It is gauche to scratch your false eyeball at the dinner table with a fork (which would also cause noise during prayer time).

Found an interesting image of EU negotiations on the issue which had Condoleezza parrying with Putin, though in the picture are only Gates, Czech Republic's Parkanova, and the revue; Balkans; Poland; Rice's areas of expertise.

The more I think about it, having private paramilitary mercenaries forced to flee Iraq could be the undoing of not only plans for a sustainable occupation, but also for an attack on Iran. All along, the anti-war focus has been on bringing The US Troops home which, despite large opposition to the war, has always provided a powerful BushCo counter-argument for their view of 'supporting the troops' as a rationale for endless occupation. But Blackwater et al ? The Iraqis hate them, our soldiers resent them, and they are largely a faceless bunch of international rogues for whom Americans have no strong identification.

I imagine the private paramilitary presence has been able to expand in numbers to such a staggering degree in Iraq in part because of this absence of emotional identification by the public in the face of an unpopular war. For BushCo, this created a convenient path of least resistence for growth of material support for endless war. But it is the very scale of their mushroomed presence combined with the sudden and real threat to their legitimacy in Iraq that stands to turn their concrete foundation for a building into sand under a house of cards.

From a standpoint of on the ground power in Iraq and PR battle at home, private mercenaries could be poised to turn from untouchable strength to indefensible weakness. I can see why they are crapping themselves. They sure as hell can't appeal to the public.

Condi's dog and pony show - "Running from the War Crimes" - will be interesting to watch. Somehow, she has to convincingly pull off saying,

"I'm in control of the Contractors, but I'm not responsible for their War Crimes - nobody is."

"How could anyone have known contractors with immunity would kill innocent civilians with such reckless abandon?"

"Mistakes were made..."

You know, I follow the news fairly closely, and I have to say that I was somewhat surprised to find out that Blackwater is providing security for State officials, instead of our own military. It's like Condi's got her own little mini-army over there. Which makes me wonder what, exactly, the State Department is doing over there. It seems to me that their forte is diplomacy and negotiation. What, if anything, have they accomplished in the last several years? And was it worth the sacrifice (with the ensuing consequences) of a number of Iraqi civilians?

A few tea leaves of possible interest to others here:

The Economist, Apr 2005: 'The benchmark price of West Texas Intermediate oil fell below $53 a barrel,
------ +5% from the preceding month, and +49.7% from the preceding year.
The Economist, Oct 20, 2007, 'The benchmark price of West Texas Intermediate oil = $80.26 a barrel,
------ +6.6% from one month ago, and +48.6% from year ago.

Dear Condi, assuming that the Iraq War was fought primarily over oil, was there a target price in mind?
When might we reach it?

April 2005 -- Gold was at $431.13/oz.
Oct 2005 -- Gold is now listed at $737.80/oz.

Dear Condi, assuming that gold is a measure of political and social anxiety, the world is half-again more anxious than it was 30 months ago. Your reactions?


-------------
Tea leaves about Turkey...key player of the 21st century...

I highly recommend Robert Kaplan's The Coming Anarchy. His thesis that demographics (mushrooming in poor countries) plus resource scarcity are driving unprecedented shifts in urbanization, with associated political and economic pressures, is persuasive.

Kaplan points out that the Turks do not have oil. But they have w-a-t-e-r.
They control streamflows that run down into Syria, Lebanon, and even Israel IIRC.

Might I suggest that the Turks have the essential resource of the 21st century, and we don't need LA fires to underscore the problem of a hotter, dryer world. (If you are still unpersuaded, re-view Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth and pay particular attention to the bits of information Gore slips in about water supplies for large populations.)

The Turks have dams.
They are also said to have excellent schools of engineering (particularly civil engineering).
They build their own dams -- very smart move on their part.

Go to Google Earth and note all the populations 'downstream' from Turkey; the Turks control water headed down into Syria, Lebanon. And Iraq.

You'll die of thirst before you ever die from lack of petroleum.
The Turks have the genuinely valuable liquid of the 21st century: water.
I heartily wish that I spoke any dialect of Turkish.
It would be a good language to know heading into the coming years, methinks.

I understand from a retired foreign service aquaintance that US Embassies are customarily attended by the Marines (at least the inner perimeter). State usually employs locals as well, who are vetted by the security section of State as locally represented.

Condi has been a pathetic failure all her life except for the colossal con she pulled at Stanford who is looking more ridiculous day by day, especially if they let her come back, and if so it is for the reason that there is a lot of money to mine in right winged Orange county, parts of Silicon valley and other ectopic parts of California, and the rest of the country and they want it.

US Foriegn policy could not be worse, and like Fredo Gonzales at DOJ, she is infinitely out of her depth. On a country by country basis, the US couldn't have gotten a worse result based on her blunders and Bushian lazy and nihilistic approach to foreign policy.

The fact remains that Blackwater perssonel, in particular have commited murder under the worst of circumstances and remain unpunished, and the idiot who was drunk and killed the body guard at the Christmas party--a Bushian variation on putting on a lampshade and pinching the wrong ass has not been punished, and the DOJ, specifically their clown agency FBI is doing their usual legal version of masturbation aka nothing. They are investigating a murder that unquestionably took place into infinity.

I think these articles are a metaphor for how moronic Condi has been:

State Dept. Official Resigns; Oversaw Blackwater and Other Private Guards

State Department Use of Contractors Leaps in 4 Years

Suicide Is Not Painless

Waxman: Contractor's re-hiring raises 'serious questions'

Rice: Mideast Peace Plan in Jeopardy

I almost forgot this Oldie but Goodie:

Reports Assail State Department on Iraq Security

Sorry for the mispelling of personnel.

Blackwater

has done a good job. No clients have been killed. That is none!

Blackwater has sacrificed greatly for it's clients. Thirty Blackwater contractors have been killed.

Blackwater asked for video cameras in the vehicles several years ago. The State Department was going to go along with the idea, but then they came back and said that the State Department's legal department had to look further at it. The guy who just resigned at the State Department claimed last week that that had not happened. The Washington Post came up with the paper work.

Not wanting America in Iraq is one thing I agree on, but this nitpicking is nothing but a distraction.

It is the war stupid!

Not hardly. Blackwater, Triple Canopy and Dyn Corp have made out like bandits in one of the most chaotic and destructive programs in Iraq among scores of them.

Like hell it's the war. It's more Bush incompetence hemorrhaging billions to companies who are major screwups. What you naively and ridiculously dubbed " a good job" is one of the most conspicuous examples of waste and fraud in the fiasco in Iraq that is the most conspicous example of waste and fraud (money and lives) in U.S. history.

A significant number of Blackwater and other mercanaries are going to be hanged and beheaded given their eggregious behavior and they get a lot more IEDs planted that kill American soldiers in response to their murdering with no repercussions.

Get someone who's an adult to read and explain this to you.

Reports Assail State Department on Iraq Security

Jodi either you're high or age 12 or both. I get it. You're one of the low IQ token Colter or Malkin clones who spews idiocy on blogs like this. Malkin who is Filipino argued for profiling and persecuting Asian Americans yesterday. If someone pops a cap in your head tomorrow while drunk, it's okay for them to go free isn't it? That's what happened to the murderer Andrew Moonen. I'm glad he keeps going to the Middle East, because I suspect some people may want to have a little talk with him there soon.

Report Details Shooting by Drunken Blackwater Worker

Billions are being hemorrhage to cowboys like Blackwater, Dyn Corp, and Triple Canopy who are helping to get a lot of soldiers blown up in a place they should have never been.

These 3 companies are doing a LOL "good job" of stealing and killing innocent people, and what they're doing should be handled by the military subject to US laws and the Uniform Code of Justice rather than subject to in fact, not a damn thing.

Paying 2 grand a day for thousands of mercanaries is simply imbecilic.

"At the same time, a government audit expected to be released Tuesday says that records documenting the work of DynCorp International, the State Department’s largest contractor, are in such disarray that the department cannot say “specifically what it received” for most of the $1.2 billion it has paid the company since 2004 to train the police in Iraq."

That's a "real good job" if you're delusional.

"But in presenting its recommendations to Ms. Rice in a 45-minute briefing on Monday, the four-member panel found serious fault with virtually every aspect of the department’s security practices, especially in and around Baghdad, where Blackwater has responsibility."

This was while Condi was trying to figure out where to get shoes on the upper East side of Manhatten.


"The Washington Post came up with the paper work."
And they found the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus sitting on it.

State Department's legal counsel "looking into cameras in vehicles for years" is as phony as FBI and DOJ investigating the murder of an Iraqui by a drunk Blackwater employee Andrew Moonen in front of witnesses for nearly a year. It sounds like State Department attorneys are about as high caliber as Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson.

There are so many murders by Blackwater that cameras in vehicles wouldn't do a damn thing to capture a high percent of them.

Like everything else Rice does, 10,000 expensive cowboys subject to no laws murdering scores of civilians. Besides any purported supervision of the mercanaries, which will be all facade, they are going to soon have to deal with a paradigm shift that they are now going to have a bounty on its head in Iraq and elsewhere.

They should never have been there and the should have been removed long ago. All 3 companies got billions to train Iraqui police and the result has been a total failure.

"The State Department has counted 56 shooting incidents involving Blackwater guards in Iraq this year. All were being reviewed as part of the comprehensive inquiry Rice ordered."
-State overhauls security in Iraq, AP, USA Today 10/6?

First, I wonder if Blackwater has any contractual obligation to report injury or death caused by their gunfire or is their only obligation to deliver the package safely? The data collection process, the total 56, is worth inquiring about.

If "State Department has counted 56 shooting incidents involving Blackwater guards in Iraq this year" means "incidents in which Blackwater security guards killed Iraqis", that amounts to 1 Iraqi every five days. In other words, it's a common occurrence.

Since the majority of Iraqis think its ok to kill American occupiers, I don't think they much care whether the Iraqi killed by Blackwater was an insurgent or a civilian. In other words, the justification and distinction we make about killing an insurgent is of no consequence to the Iraqi people - these are the people we claim we are occupying in order to protect. You can imagine why they might have a hard time believing that is our objective.

Shit Stain Jodi.

roTL
I don't nknow about any water sources in Turkey going to Israel, but I do seem to recall that both the Tigris and the Euphrates, the main water sources for Iraq, come out of Turkey.

ROTL
Go to Google Earth and note all the populations 'downstream' from Turkey; the Turks control water headed down into Syria, Lebanon. And Iraq.

Exactly why Turkey will never agree to an independent Kurdistan - the earmarked area sought by the Kurds would transfer control of waterways. And if the Biden et al solution of dividing Iraq three ways took place, the now independent Iraqi Kurdish areas would foment a push for the same in Turkey. And Iran isn't that sure that it can't pull off supporting Kurds to take areas of Iraq (oil) and Turkey (water) and back off of Iran, plus gain a valuable ally.

All a difficult balancing act.

Mary, pfffftttt... not for the first time, I read your comments with amazement. Yeah, if I'd looked at the maps a bit harder, I could probably have figured that out. F*ck all...

As for your last bit... didn't you mean,
" And Iran isn't that sure that it can't CAN pull off supporting Kurds to take areas of Iraq (oil) and Turkey (water) and back off of Iran, plus gain a valuable ally.
Your 'ally,' I assume = 'Kurdistan'?

BTW: Haven't followed it too much, but IIRC one of the real 'feats' of globalization has been the (ahem...!) 'purchase' of utilities like water districts and water treatment plants. Enronization of water resources, so to speak. You'll be shocked (schocked!) to learn these 'privitization' schemes trace back to Reagan/Bush, and primarily Bush41. In other words... if you're thirsty, we just raised the prices. A lot.

Friends who recently traveled in the old USSR have commented a number of times at how appalled and alarmed they were to see Russians having to purchase bottled water (and Pepsi) on the streets. Evidently, in the cities they visited, the water systems aren't so skookum. Wonder who owns the bottled water concessions? (I presume it's PutinCo, but no time to trace it down.)

So yeah, are the Turks going to let the Kurds get the water resources?
Pffffttt.....
And Santa in his bunny suit is going to be bring me my Easter Eggs.

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