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Monday, October 08, 2007

State Department and Blackwater -- Practically Married

BLackwater LogoGood news, the State Dept. has issued new rules for it's mercenary force, Blackwater USA. After a live fire incident last month that left 17 iraqis dead, State has decided that maybe we should keep an eye on these guys.

Federal Computer Week:

Under the new guidelines, agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security will begin accompanying Blackwater's protective details. State officials plan to more closely review reported incidents, record radio transmissions between security details, mount cameras in security vehicles and archive electronic records of the vehicles' movement. The department will also expand existing communications links to U.S. military units operating in the same areas as the Blackwater details.

The bad news -- and those who have been reading my posts for a while know there's always bad news -- is that it's not likely to change a damned thing. The attitude of State toward Blackwater is to let them do whatever the hell they want. In fact, the Standard Operational Procedure seems to be to clean up Blackwater's messes for them. For example, I wrote back in August, "These security officers suck rocks at supplying security. On Christmas Eve, 2006, for example, a drunken Blackwater USA employee shot and killed a guard for the iraqi Vice President. The employee made his way to the US embassy, where he was flown out of the country. Eight months after this murder, he hasn't been charged with any crime."

We've literally helped Blackwater get away with murder -- it was State that helped the murderer flee the country. Given that, how likely is it that these cameras and recorded radio communications, all piped back to the State Dept., are going to make any damned difference at all?

In her syndicated column, Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker puts this incident the way iraqis must see it. Dick Cheney goes to the UK, some hammered moron the brits hired to be a bodyguard kills one of Dick's secret service agents, and the British government hushes it up and sneaks the murderer out of the country. How would that go over? Keep in mind that there were people in the US who considered France an honest-to-goodness enemy just because they disagreed with us. How likely is it that we'd let the murder of a Secret Service agent guarding Dick slide?

Not very. Tucker writes:

If Americans are still puzzled by the hostility with which so many Iraqis -- indeed, so many Muslims -- view the U.S. occupation, this one episode ought to go a long way toward explaining the resentment. While the Bush administration continues to justify its invasion by pretending a deep concern for the Iraqi people, the lives of average Iraqis haven't counted for much. Blackwater USA paid the family of the slain Iraqi bodyguard $20,000 in compensation.

It's not very likely that people will make the distinction between Blackwater and the US military. Both are a bunch of american yahoos with guns -- at least, to iraqis. Whether Blackwater kills someone or the military does, ask an iraqi what happened and they'll tell you, "The americans killed him."

And the attitude of Blackwater toward iraqis goes all the way to the top. In response to it's killing of 17 innocent iraqis last month, the company issued a statement that read, "Blackwater regrets any loss of life, but this convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job to defend human life."

That prompted the popular iraqi newspaper Azzaman to ask, "Are Iraqis not human? Are their lives not life?" Apparently not. The dead from the incident were all unarmed and, according to police, not insurgents. If Blackwater was responding to an attack, their aim blows and their definition of "human life" is deeply, deeply flawed.

Of course, the iraqi government has determined that there was no attack. According to the BBC, they're calling the incident a "deliberate crime" and have "called for guards from the US security firm Blackwater to be prosecuted."

Yeah, good luck with that. The fact that Blackwater's still there, despite the fact that the iraqi government wanted them gone, shows you who runs iraq. The Bush administrations pretends there's a sovereign, purple-finger democracy in Iraq, but this incident alone shows who's really running the country. Maliki gets to do what the US allows it to.

In one incident, Blackwater has managed to undermine both the US military and the iraqi government. They've proven themselves grossly negligent, appallingly incompetent, and inarguably criminal. Even if I thought hiring mercenaries was a great idea, I'd be forced to come to the conclusion that these clowns really suck.

Yet, Bush and State are sticking by them. Why? The answer is what the answer almost always is when you're talking about Bushco -- $.

Ben Van Heuvelen, Salon:

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 $500 million, all while employees passed through a turnstile between Blackwater and the administration, several leaving important posts in the Pentagon and the CIA to take jobs at the security company.

The piece goes on to point out that Blackwater founder and CEO, Erik Prince, is a right wing lunatic with ties to such wingnut luminaries as James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, Charles Colson, and the late Jerry Falwell. He's personally donated $300,000 to the GOP and Republican candidates. He was an intern in Poppy Bush's White House. Prince is a neocon insider with deep pockets. In the Bush White House, it's generally considered impossible for an insider to ever be wrong. Members of the cult of visionaries are, after all, flawless -- especially if they bankroll Republican campaigns.

So Condoleezza Rice can slap cameras on the side of Blackwater vehicles and record their radio transmissions. And she can do it because she knows those feeds will be piped into an empty room at State where no one is watching and no one is listening because no one there gives a damn. They care about iraqis to the extent that they're required to -- in public, anyway. In private, they can hardly be bothered with the people we've supposedly "saved" from Saddam Hussein.

And the iraqis know this. Mostly because the Bush administration proves it so often.


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1 comment:

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