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Fade to blackwater

When it was announced today (link) that Blackwater USA resumed their role on Friday, days after being suspended by the Iraqi government for allegedly killing civilians, an episode of the Sopranos came to mind.

In season two of the Sopranos, Davey, the owner of Davey’s sporting goods and well-over-his-head gambler, played his way into the deep pockets of Tony Soprano. Davey’s debt became so large that Tony announced to Davey that he was going to become a silent partner of the store. Which basically meant that Tony and ‘friends of Tony’s’ could take what they want, when they wanted and charge anything they wanted to the store. It didn’t matter, no one would pay for it.

And Davey couldn’t say a word about anything.

Which brings me to Iraq.

For months we’ve heard: “(the Iraqis have) a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny -- and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom” and “When the Iraqi government stands up; we’ll stand down.”

Yet an odd thing happens when the Iraqi government actually takes action to protect their citizens and manage their own affairs. What happens in the case when the Iraqi government’s independence differs with the corporation friends of the Bush administration? As in the case with Blackwater (link), The Iraqi government made a decision but it appears that the Bush administration pushed back and trumped their move to protect their corporate friends.

So what does this say to the citizens of Iraq?

Does this convey to the Iraqi people that they have a self-sustaining government? A government able to act on its own feet to the betterment of its own people?

Nah.

Davey couldn’t say anything and watched his store spiral into bankruptcy. Iraq’s government seems as equally powerless. I guess that’s just what happens when you made a deal that you can’t pay back. Then you must deal with Tony’s (oops… I mean) George’s friends like Blackwater.

Posted by john trevisani at September 21, 2007 11:20 AM
Comments
Comment #233733
The shooting has incensed Iraqis who regard the tens of thousands of security contractors working in the country as private armies that act with impunity.
Many security firms operating in Iraq have no valid license. A law issued by U.S. administrators after the 2003 invasion which overthrew Saddam Hussein granted them immunity from prosecution and has not been formally revoked.

Yes, lets let unlicensed contractors (read mercenaries) represent the United States with impugnity.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 21, 2007 11:37 AM
Comment #233756
…Blackwater USA resumed their role on Friday, days after being suspended by the Iraqi government for allegedly killing civilians…

According to your link, it was the US and not the Iraqi government that suspended Blackwater’s operations in the first place and then started them again after consultations with Iraqi officials. Nowhere does it say that the “Iraqi government took action to protect their citizens.” It merely says that Maliki’s government has threatened to take steps to expel security contractors. Not that they have actually taken such steps.

The use of security contractors ins Iraq is a separate issue, but the point you’re making about this particular case is based on some outright falsehoods.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at September 21, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #233757

LO

Great and finely tuned point, LO, but it misses the big picture. Why does Blackwater operate with impunity? How does this make us look, and what does this link us to?

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 21, 2007 2:15 PM
Comment #233758

I can’t really add anything to what has already been said. I totally agree and am disgusted. I think we all saw this coming and knew that Blackwater would be at it again in no time.

Posted by: Carolina at September 21, 2007 2:15 PM
Comment #233766

Alien, if they were “operating with impunity” then they’d hardly have had their activities curtailed while they became the subject of a joint US/Iraqi investigation. That’s not what “impunity” means.

Now, as far as this incident, none of us know for sure what happened there. A car bomb went off in the area, and State Department convoy under protection of Blackwater apparently came under fire.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that “eyewitnesses” to this event, who could be the gunmen or their sypmpathizers for all we know, claim that the Americans shot first and that if any civilians were hurt in the area, it was the fault of the Americans. That’s what they ALWAYS say in incidents of this type, whether such incidents involves US soliders OR security contractors. Hopefully the truth will come out, but the accounts of “eyewitnesses” to attacks on Americans very often require a large grain of salt.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at September 21, 2007 2:51 PM
Comment #233767

Perhaps if it’s (acting with impunity) good enough for “the Bush”…………..

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/world/middleeast/19blackwater.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1190400277-J645gI46jtEIgvgRbT6pXQ

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 21, 2007 2:55 PM
Comment #233768


Employees of Blackwater and other corporate mercenaries who are killed or maimed receive the same government benefits that the families of killed or wounded American soldiers receive.

The Iraqi governments reaction to the Blackwater incident was mearly a fake attempt to placate the people. The Iraqi people would not revoke Blackwater’s licence, they would hang them.

Posted by: jlw at September 21, 2007 2:55 PM
Comment #233785

LO:
The link was about today’s news. Which is accurate. The old news was earlier this week when Blackwater was ordered out by the Iraqis. Sorry; i thought everyone already knew that.

Posted by: john trevisani at September 21, 2007 3:56 PM
Comment #233788

LO:
“At least 11 people, including Iraqi civilians, were killed in the firefight. Iraqi officials have called the incident a “crime” and initially called for Blackwater to be expelled from the country. Rice and other U.S. officials have urged the Iraqis to wait until investigations are complete before taking any permanent steps.” (link

Posted by: john trevisani at September 21, 2007 4:00 PM
Comment #233789

John, the Mafia is an excellent metaphor for the way this Neocon gang of thugs operates.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 21, 2007 4:01 PM
Comment #233855

John:

When it was announced today (link) that Blackwater USA resumed their role on Friday, days after being suspended by the Iraqi government for allegedly killing civilians, an episode of the Sopranos came to mind.


Of course it does. When America does much of anything in Iraq it is automatically “wrong”. Remember Murtha with the Marines in Haditha?

America Wrong America Wrong America Wrong America Wrong.

I am certain when something happens in Iraq the left automatically thinks the worst of america and american’s intensions, just like the enemy does!!

By the way there is a little thing called investigaions and letting the process work.

This is exactly like what happened with General Patraeus. Blame the military or America before all the facts are known and investigated.

It’s pretty clear what side of the war the left is on by “what comes to mind” when something happens.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 21, 2007 6:52 PM
Comment #233858

john trevisani - With out an apology by President

Bush for just the latest incident of the deaths by

Backwater Emps.

along with the treatment of prisoners held in our

military prisons, should become aware of the

possibly, a War Crimes Tribunal could be brought

up. I would suggest a very quick restructuring,

with a memo sent to all personal on rules of

participation. This could stop a possible, future

fiasco.

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 21, 2007 7:04 PM
Comment #233859


Considering that the Mafia has at times had a history of aggression, and where Blackwater primarily concerns itself with security and defense, wouldn’t a better analogy be that of the US Secret Service?

We all agree that the circumstances in Iraq are violent, but unless I am just not privy to the appropriate reports, I have yet to see where Blackwater is adding to the chaos by using extortion, kidnapping, and murder as strategic or tactical methods as was suggested in the Mafia analogy.

The US has had a successful Secret Service since 1865, and as a result an arguably stable government as well. It would be clearly incorrect to claim the same of Iraq. I’m sure that Saddam had his loyal protectors, but I’m just as certain that the loyalty was to Saddam the dictator rather than loyalty to the “Leader” of Iraq, (if you get the distinction).

Where Blackwater failed was not being thorough enough in their security to prevent the car bomb. I would imagine the most highly trained individual, civilian or military, would find it difficult to find a target through the chaotic consequences of a car bomb.

I won’t say that that there might not be an element of truth in the Mafia analogy, at some level. But before Blackwater is condemned entirely, ask whether or not the same circumstance would have produced different results if it had been the Secret Service protecting a parade of “Officials” down Main Street USA, where the same car bomb exploded, and the same gunfire was met.

Just a different perspective.

Posted by: DOC at September 21, 2007 7:16 PM
Comment #233860

DOC- Their is a slight difference here, you are implying that the car bomb was close, when in
fact the car bomb was over one mile away. So why
start shooting before in a random manner? I need
more facts before I can make an informed choice as
to where the fault might lie.

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 21, 2007 7:33 PM
Comment #233864

LO

actually the Iraq govt. did suspend blackwaters license and ordered them out of the country not because they fired on civilians in and of itself, but because this is not the first time and the Iraq govt. is getting pretty incensed about Blackwater killing civilians and not being held accountable.
. At least according to Fortune Mag. here is an exerpt from the article with link following;

That’s why the Iraqi government has moved so quickly to condemn the attacks and cancel Blackwater’s license, as well as announce a review of all local and foreign security firms. “They’ve made many mistakes resulting in other deaths, but this is the last and the biggest mistake,” says Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

http://money.cnn.com/2007/09/18/magazines/fortune/gimbel_blackwater.fortune/index.htm
john

Posted by: john at September 21, 2007 8:12 PM
Comment #233870

We all just need to learn that nobody wins when going up against Bush’s buds…..he takes care of his own, regardless the cost.

Personnel Blackwater’s president, Gary Jackson, and other business unit leaders are former Navy SEALs. Blackwater was founded and is owned by Erik Prince, who is also a former Navy SEAL.[13] Prince and Jackson are also major contributors to the Republican party. In addition, Prince was an intern in George H.W. Bush’s White House and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992.[14]

Cofer Black, the company’s current vice chairman, was the Bush administration’s top counter terrorism official when 9/11 occurred. In 2002, he famously stated: “There was before 9/11 and after 9/11. After 9/11, the gloves come off.” Blackwater has become home to a significant number of former senior CIA and Pentagon officials. Robert Richer became the firm’s Vice President of Intelligence immediately after he resigned his position as Associate Deputy Director of Operations in fall 2005. He is formerly the head of the CIA’s Near East Division.[15]

In October 2006, Kenneth Starr, independent counsel in the impeachment case of Bill Clinton in 1999, represented Blackwater in front of the US Supreme Court in a case related to the March 2004 killing of four Blackwater employees in Fallujah, Iraq.[16] In response to that event, Blackwater also hired the Republican lobbying and PR firm, the Alexander Strategy Group.[17]
From Wikipedia

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 21, 2007 9:03 PM
Comment #233877

-DAVID-
I would imagine that a car bomb, even a mile away, might at the very least, startle people into some manner of behavior that could be pecieved as a threat. The fact that the explosion occured near their destination was most likely of immediate concern to Blackwater as well.

From a business sense it’s difficult to see where a blatant act of aggression could be financially beneficial to Blackwater, unless of course, they are paid by the number of people they kill. Why would a multi-billion dollar company potentially risk over two thirds of its contracts by overtly mowing down a couple of dozen innocent pedestrians. It just seems much more likely that Blackwater reacted to a threat, either perceived or real, and innocent people paid the price.

Winston Churchill perhaps said it best. “War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.”

Posted by: DOC at September 21, 2007 10:06 PM
Comment #233878

Sandra Davidson- A very revealing post. thank you
-

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 21, 2007 10:13 PM
Comment #233882

DOC - You are right about the possibilities or
probabilities, but I still must also consider
Blackwaters pryor shootings of civilians on more
than one occasion. There must be an outside
investigation for obvious reasons.

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 21, 2007 10:33 PM
Comment #233883

Thanks -DAVID-, doesn’t it all make one wonder just how many pies little Georgie has his fingers in???

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 21, 2007 10:36 PM
Comment #233886

Sandra Davidson- That may be the closest thing to

A Shadow Government I have ever seen! Bears watching.

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 21, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #233892

John,

I have to wonder how you would handle private security in a war zone. It sounds like a pretty tough job to me, especially if you’re a consular official with a target drawn all over you and your security “vendor” has been tossed out of the country. I’ll bet that feels worse than having your little kids spout off in front of church services.

I’ll tell you what, though, that was a great title.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 21, 2007 11:59 PM
Comment #233897

U.S. investigates Blackwater arms smuggling

Two former Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty in Greenville, North Carolina, to weapons charges and are cooperating with the investigation, The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina reported.

Lee:

Private security? Blackwater also provides security for Petreus. Isn’t that supposed to be a soldier’s job? It used to be. We have farmed out our military to private companies. Bad idea. I thought the military also used to guard the embassies and their personnel. This is the one place I think it’s a bad idea to contract these things out.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 22, 2007 1:26 AM
Comment #233902

Lee:
How would i handle what exactly? Iraq supposedly, since it has it’s own constitution and ‘rule of law’, can govern as they please. And if THEY decide that certain organizations are wrong for the citizens’ of Iraq, then they can.

The US, regardless of their business interests, should respect their decision.

Posted by: john trevisani at September 22, 2007 6:13 AM
Comment #234005

John,

OK, that’s a good argument.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 22, 2007 10:30 PM
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