Friday, October 05, 2007

Blackwater under fire

By Libby

I can hardly wait to see how the administration's apologists are going to spin this lastest indictment of Blackwater's misconduct in Iraq.

U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official.

The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, the Iraqi official said.

"It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong," said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. "The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them," he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official said.

It couldn't be any clearer that our "private army" of mercenaries has completely run amok. It's good that the Congress, however belatedly, is exploring ways to hold the company accountable but one suspects the end result will be that a handful of alleged "rogue" employees will be made scapegoats for what is tacitly accepted conduct within the framework of their mysterious contracts and Blackwater will continue to receive taxpayer funding to perpetrate further atrocities under our government's protection.

This should be a lesson to all those who believe privatization is the panacea for our military shortfalls. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone in a position to change bad policy will be cracking that book.

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