Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Iraq orders U.S. security firm out of country after killings

September 18, 2007


— They protect U.S. diplomats, guard supply convoys and perform dangerous tasks for a military stretched to the limit by the conflict in Iraq. But the presence of armed civilians operating outside both U.S. military and Iraqi law has long angered Iraqis.

That anger exploded Monday when the Interior Ministry announced that it had revoked the license of Blackwater USA after what it said was the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

The order, if carried out, would deal a severe blow to U.S. government operations in Iraq by stripping diplomats, engineers, reconstruction officials and others of their security protection.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

Sunday's shooting was the latest in a series of incidents in which Blackwater and other foreign contractors have been accused of shooting to death Iraqi citizens. None has faced charges or prosecution.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki late Monday and the two agreed to conduct a "fair and transparent investigation" and hold any wrongdoers accountable, said Yassin Majid, an adviser to the prime minister. Rice was expected to visit the Mideast today.

Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Rice "told the prime minister that we were investigating this incident and wanted to gain a full understanding of what happened."

"She reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life, in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians," Casey said.

Majid made no mention of the order to expel Blackwater, and it was unlikely the United States would agree to abandon a security company that plays such a critical role in American operations in Iraq.

The U.S. clearly hoped the Iraqis would be satisfied with an investigation, a finding of responsibility and compensation to the victims' families - and not insist on expelling a company that the Americans cannot operate here without.

Details of Sunday's incident were unclear.

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire on civilians in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Mansour in western Baghdad.


max1 6 years, 7 months ago Blackwater is expanding rapidly, adding training campuses in California and Illinois and a jungle-training base in the Philippines. It has about 2,300 private soldiers deployed in nine countries, including the U.S., and claims a database of over 20,000 former military personnel who are on-call. Following the deployment of Blackwater mercenaries to New Orleans post-Katrina, the company saw a growth opportunity, establishing a domestic operations division that is seeking permits to contract for work in all 50 states. Iraq's mercenaries - with a licence to kill In April 2004, mercenaries working for a private militia named Blackwater were guarding US occupation headquarters in Najaf when a protest by Shia Iraqi civilians began to stir outside. According to the Washington Post and eyewitnesses, Blackwater opened fire on the protesters, unleashing so many rounds so rapidly they had to pause every 15 minutes to allow their gun barrels to cool down. A video of this attack made it on to the Web, where a mercenary can be seen describing the Iraqis they are gunning down as "f*kin' niggers". Blackwater Mercenaries Deploy in New Orleans What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments. . . as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.",3604,1162392,00.html The US is hiring mercenaries in Chile to replace its soldiers on security duty in Iraq. . . Last month Blackwater USA flew a first group of about 60 former commandos, many of who had trained under the military government of Augusto Pinochet, from Santiago to a 2,400-acre (970-hectare) training camp in North Carolina. "We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals," company president Gary Jackson told the Guardian. "The Chilean commandos are very, very professional, and they fit within the Blackwater system." There are now nearly as many private contractors in Iraq as there are U.S. soldiers . . . "Most military guys resent them," said former Marine Lt. Col. Mike Zacchea, who spent two years in Iraq training and building the Iraqi army. . . "Really, these guys are free agents on the battlefield. They're not bound by any law. They're non-uniformed combatants. No one keeps track of them."


madmike 6 years, 7 months ago

I would love to see Comerade Chavez overthrown!


kugrad 6 years, 7 months ago

THe Bush administration will hate having their torturers and mercenaries inactive. Some money will change hands and this will all go away. Few Americans know how many thousands of mercenaries we have in Iraq along with our regular military. The newspaper often describes them as "oil workers" or "civilian support staff" or somesuch nonsense, especially when they are killed. These are soldiers of fortune, not bound by the Geneva convention, not bound by US law, doing what they want to do. We pay for it. This is an arm of Halliburton, even though they spun off Kellogg, Brown and Root (partly to hide ownership through overseas incorporation), this was part of the whole insider deals of Dick Cheney and the missing Billions we have given to his cronies. This war has been bungled by the most corrupt and simply incompetent administration in living history.


posessionannex 6 years, 7 months ago

If Chavez moves from (what did you call him?) a blowhard to funding armed rebels in neighboring democracies, will you change your mind on him?


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes, on that we can agree, posessionannex. But BushCo would love to see the same model of "governance" in Venezuela, too. Would you?


75x55 6 years, 7 months ago

It's actually a good sign - reading Michael Yon's blog will give further evidence of this positive trend, as formerly antagonist militias (such as the 1920s) are seeing that their Iraqi future lies in fighting al Q. and other regional interlopers hoping for a political hand in post-war Iraq.


posessionannex 6 years, 7 months ago

Turnabout is fair play.

I remember reading (Totten, somewhere?) about the spooky private militias all over Baghdad, with no rules of engagement. Blackwater was begging for this to happen, unfortunately.


smitty 6 years, 7 months ago

Finally!!!! The Iraqii government is strong enough to challenge the USA.


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