Blackwater continues killing Iraqis

Blackwater our war profiteer of the month of June has made war profiteers to be main-stream news more than ever. Mainly because Blackwater personnel killed 11 Iraqis and wounded 14 during what the company said was an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy travelling through the Mansour district of Baghdad. Blackwater employees have been involved in at least 195 shooting incidents since 2005. Blackwater so far has fired 122 employees because of alcohol and drug abuse, misusing weapons, violent behaviour and other inappropriate conduct, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report. Mainly, this "inappropriate conduct" involves the death of civilians and the abuse of alcohol and drugs and has led many times to the killing of Iraqi civilians.

In another shooting by a Blackwater employee, that killed a guard of the Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi, the report said, that the U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires recommended that Blackwater compensate the victim's family, proposing a $250,000 payment. That amount prompted one State Department official to say that such "crazy sums" might cause Iraqis to "try to get killed so as to set up their family financially." Blackwater eventually paid $15,000 delivered to the guard's family with the help of the State Department, according to a House report. The Blackwater guard was moved out of Iraq on Dec. 26. On Dec. 28, in a letter to the U.S. Embassy, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's chief of staff labeled the incident "murder."

George Friedman said in his article "The Geopolitical Foundations of Blackwater" that "Blackwater works for the State Department in a capacity defined as noncombat, protecting diplomats and other high-value personnel from assassination. The Army, bogged down in its own operations, lacks the manpower to perform this obviously valuable work. That means that Blackwater and other contract workers are charged with carrying weapons and moving around the battlefield, which is everywhere. They are heavily armed private soldiers carrying out missions that are combat in all but name -- and they are completely outside of the chain of command". Blackwater has a noncombat campacity contract but they do exactly the opposite as they are involved in large military operations in Iraq not only providing security but in most cases replacing the military in their occupation operations.

Blackwater has a very good relationship with the White House and the Republicans, that in many cases includes the revolving door factor where employees of Blackwater move to work for the State or the other way around. As presented by Jason Rhyne and Nick Juliano in their article "Man Bush chose to lead Pentagon contracting probes left under fire to become Blackwater COO" "the connections include the firm's chief operating officer Joseph Schmitz, who was tapped by President Bush in 2002 to oversee and police the Pentagon's military contracts as the Defense Department's Inspector General" Also Erik Prince, Blackwater's founder, donated around $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees. The ties between State and Blackwater are only part of a web of relationships that Blackwater has maintained with the Bush administration and with prominent Republicans. From 2001 to 2007 the firm has increased its annual federal contracts from less than $1 million to more than $1 billion.

All the latest events have provoked an even bigger rejection from the Iraqis about the presence of Blackwater in their country. And the Iraqi government has asked for the removal of Blackwater from Iraq. Janessa Gans who was in Iraq and was protected by Blackwater said in an interview with Democracy Now about the Iraqi government asking for the removal of Blackwater "I actually was surprised that it had taken this long. You know, I used to often think, well, I benefited personally so much from their protection and their security and without which I could have not done my job, but I used to think if there were foreign armed convoys going through my streets every day, delaying traffic, if I got anywhere too close, I would be pelted with water bottles or have guns pointed at me, I would have piped up right away and made a complaint. So I'm just surprised that they waited this long"

Now is the time to keep up the pressure and make sure that Blackwater's contracts are not renew and that they leave Iraq and follow the example of what protesters did on Saturday 20 of October, when protesters re-enacted the Sept. 16 shooting in Iraq. Saturday's demonstration marked the first protest at Blackwater's headquarters since the company was formed. 7 people were arrested.

For more information about the action:

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/10/21/4718/

http://democracynow.org