scholars and rogues

Being Blackwater means never having to say you’re sorry…Condi will do that for you…

blackwateronpatrol.jpg

Blackwater Security (shown here on one of their typical helicopter patrols in Iraq), who was involved in a shootout Sunday that updated reports now say left over 20 Iraqi unarmed civilians dead, has yet to offer an apology for the attack. They continue to state that they fired in defense against a perceived threat.

Of course, they don’t have to say they’re sorry. They have The US Secretary of State to do that for them.

Condoleezza Rice has apologized both personally and on behalf of the United States government for the shootings. She has done so, it is reported, to forestall Blackwater’s expulsion from Iraq.

iraqvictimsblackwater.jpgter.jpgGiven the heinous nature of the reports of Blackwater’s actions (shooting unarmed Iraqis who were felling the scene in the back), the operative question becomes why? Why defend such lawless, vicious behavior? Here’s a possible explanation:

Diplomats, engineers and other westerners in Iraq rely heavily on protection by Blackwater. The Iraqi decision created confusion on the ground, with uncertainty over whether protection was still available and whether Blackwater staff should leave the country immediately.

Add to that new reports that the US has now restricted the movements of diplomats and others since the Blackwater shootout, and it becomes plain enough: the US can’t operate in Iraq without Blackwater’s protection. After all, the troops are being used for more important work – pursuing the oil interests of the US. So duties normally assigned to troops – providing protection to senior officers, diplomats, and important corporate interests (like oil business executives) have to be contracted out. Since Blackwater is a primary security provider for these people, the American presence in Iraq, and hence, Bush administration foreign policy, is captive to the likes of Blackwater.

So we get double-talk like this from a State Dept. deputy press secretary:

We’re in conversations with the Iraqis on how we can find some mechanisms for looking at this issue in a joint way. There have been a number of questions that have been raised and we want to make sure that both we and the Iraqis have a common set of facts that we’re working from and also that we can hopefully come to some common conclusions on how to proceed. – Tom Casey, State Dept. deputy press secretary

What will those conclusions be? Given that the Iraqi government has thrown down a gauntlet with this expulsion of such a powerful administration corporate partner, one would assume that one conclusion will be that Blackwater will only temporarily be expelled from the country. Distasteful as that is for both the US and Iraq governments politically (as well as horrifying for the Iraqi civilian population), it might be safer than the alternative. At least it will continue to give Blackwater somewhere far away from our shores to use their troops, planes, and ships without an invented “crisis” here at home that might allow The Decider to use them here in the US.

Update: The NY Times has an article that explores the complexities of holding civilian security firms like Blackwater to a legal standard. (Thanks to Scrogue Brian Angliss for the heads up.)

7 replies »

  1. There is, of course, no excuse for Blackwater. Nor is there any excuse for the DoD hiring Blackwater to do its job.

    They do it so that they can hide the numbers of troops over there (by counting only military, not mercenaries). This, though, gives the mercenaries legal cover.

    If Iraq is, in fact, a sovereign nation as our President says it is, then we should respect their laws. If they want Blackwater out because they don’t trust it, it should go.

    I’m not holding my breath.

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