A report out today and prepared by the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has some shocking statistics on Blackwater, the Bush administration's favorite mercenaries.
Private security contractor Blackwater USA has had to fire 122 employees over the past three years for problems ranging from misusing weapons, alcohol and drug violations, inappropriate conduct, and violent behavior, according to a report released Monday by a congressional committee.That second statistic - 80%! - suggests that the 122 fired were hardly the only "bad apples" - just the ones so outrageously thuggish that even the Blackwater folks were forced to take action.
That total is roughly one-seventh of the work force that Blackwater has in Iraq, a ratio that raises questions about the quality of the people working for the company.
The report, prepared by the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also says Blackwater has been involved in 195 shooting incidents since 2005, or roughly 1.4 per week.
In more than 80 percent of the incidents, called ``escalation of force,'' Blackwater's guards fired the first shots even though the company's contract with the State Department calls for it to use defensive force only, it said.
``In the vast majority of instances in which Blackwater fired shots, Blackwater is firing from a moving vehicle and does not remain at the scene to determine if the shots resulted in casualties,'' according to the report.
These are the people that the U.S. State dept. have chosen and are sticking by as their own security - the sharp end of any State public presence in Iraq. No wonder the counterinsurgency experts over in the Pentagon are tearing their hair out in frustration. It only takes one bad incident to undo the efforts of 100 successful counterinsurgency "hearts and minds" events. By my count, that's 15,600 schools painted, kids vaccinated, etc etc - for every single one of which some poor buggers in U.S. uniforms put their lives at risk in the doing - all set at naught by the trigger-happy gunslingers that got their jobs only because their bosses contributed bigtime to Bush's election campaigns.
The New York Times has more on the congressional report - which appears to claim that State have been helping cover up Blackwater's excesses for quite a while now.
Meanwhile CNN is reporting that it was a Blackwater contractor, Darren Hanner, who drafted the original two-page "spot report" on the letterhead of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for the embassy's Tactical Operations Center which seemed to exonarate Blackwater and didn't mention civilain casualties at all.
Time, and past time, for Blackwater's contract to be terminated.