Saturday, October 06, 2007

Blackwater the Lefts New Haliburton

Blackwater (RWC)

The Sept. 16 failed ambush of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad’s Mansour district that resulted in the death of some Iraqis has also resulted in a firestorm of politically inspired and one-sided attacks on one of the best of the world’s military contractors: Blackwater, a company run and staffed by former special operations warriors who have been so efficient and skilled, so reliable and professional and aggressive in their protection of American diplomats and contractors in Iraq that not one of those Americans has ever been kidnapped or killed.

US intelligence reports say that al-Qaeda in Iraq has targeted US diplomats and CIA officers for priority assassination because of their headline value. Existing tensions between the State Department and the US military were exacerbated by last Sunday’s firefight. Those tensions were fueled by the sometimes unreliable and deeply corrupt Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI), more about which later. The US Department of Defense is now complaining that State doesn’t sufficiently “control” their personal security details (PSD’s), though DOD also employs Blackwater on dangerous missions.

The incident last Sunday began around noon when Blackwater’s PSD Team 4 was protecting a US diplomat at the Izdihar financial compound. A bomb planted in a nearby vehicle exploded. None of the Americans was injured and the diplomat was hustled away with help from Blackwater Tactical Support Team 22 (TST). A second force of Blackwater operatives (TST 23) raced from the nearby Green Zone to assist and, according to a “sensitive” report filed by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security that day, when they arrived nearby they came under fire from an “estimated 8-10 persons (who) fired from multiple nearby locations, with some aggressors dressed in civilian apparel and others in Iraqi Police uniforms .” (My emphasis. The Iraqi police, and their uniforms, are under control of the MOI.)

The State Department report goes on: “The team returned defensive fire and attempted to drive out of the initial ambush site; however the team’s command Bearcat vehicle was disabled during the attack and could not continue.” Enemy gunfire was so furious that bullets striking the engine block of the armored vehicle caused it to fail.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the Iraqi MOI demanded that Blackwater be booted from the country and froze their activities without any investigation, immobilizing CIA officers and diplomats within the Green Zone. According to the journalist Richard Minter, writing on Pajamas Media, the CIA station was “all but motionless –as meetings with informants and the Iraqi government” were hastily cancelled. Blackwater also protects US reconstruction efforts across Iraq, the building of clinics, schools, etc., and so according to Minter these too were all but shut down.

Some Iraqi witnesses, a number of whom work for the Ministry of the Interior, told reporters that Blackwater began shooting civilians without provocation, a ludicrous scenario and one the Americans deny. The Blackwater contractors and the U.S. diplomats are saying the same thing: that the Blackwater men reacted lawfully after being provoked by the bomb blast and then defended themselves from a coordinated attack by men, some wearing police uniforms, firing automatic weapons. After a few days of serious paralysis, Blackwater went back to work in Iraq but the drumbeat to make them leave the country continues,

The New York Times says Blackwater men fire their weapons more often than any other contractor in Iraq. (That bullet count includes warning shots). It is true that the Blackwater operators are famously aggressive. They were precisely trained for survival and they work daily in the most lethal areas of Iraq, protecting Americans the insurgents want to kill.

Nonetheless, critics on the Left in the US, some of them in Congress, have rushed to side of the Iraqi witnesses to condemn Blackwater, however contrived the Iraqi statements may appear. Some of them are calling for repeal of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, the decree that, they claim, puts foreign security contractors beyond the reach of Iraqi law.

But Order 17 only excuses contractors from Iraqi laws when the action in question is required to fulfill a contract. In other words, despite several news articles stating otherwise, crimes like rape, murder, and theft can be tried under Iraqi law. Private security contractors like Blackwater are bound by a number of U.S. statutes, international treaties, federal acquisition laws, and defense and trade controls regulations (the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, the War Crimes Act, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, the Anti-Torture Statute, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.) If the military contractor is working for the US Department of Defense, as some Blackwater men are, they are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Military contractors not in violation of any of the above are not bound by Iraqi law, nor are members of the US military. Iraq is still a mess and government corruption is as common as roadside bombs and starving dogs. Any decision to revoke Order 17 would effectively shut down private security companies, which is likely the real goal of many on the Left who have rushed this case to judgment, and another 50,000 or more US military troops would have to take their place. Not good. Fact is, private security firms are essential to solving the long term problems of Iraq.

Congressman Henry Waxman, the liberal Democrat from Los Angeles, held hearings this week whose purpose was as political as it was investigatory. Waxman is chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Waxman and some of his fellow Democrats are blaming the State Department for failing to “restrain” Blackwater in Iraq, though the evidence is that Blackwater has actually policed itself in what is a very tou9gh, unpredictable business. Blackwater has about 1,000 employees highly trained employees in Iraq there and the company has fired or dismissed more than 100 for various infractions or misbehaviors under the State Department contract.

Blackwater is a company that has become strikingly successful over the past few years. That success is infuriating to the organized Left which loathes everything about the company that others have thought was cool: its cryptic, dangerous-sounding name, its private air force, its huge North Carolina training base, its bear paw logo. (In Paris, shops sell women’s panties and bras with Blackwater and its logo on them). Blackwater’s lantern-jawed, close-cropped, sky-diving, special Ops patriotic American image makes the extreme Left even crazier.

The Nation magazine crowd has worked themselves into a spitting fit over Blackwater, demonizing it through a media campaign that started about a year ago with a young, weasely, left-wing polemicist in the lead. First came repeated personal attacks on Blackwater’s “right-wing Christian” founder, a decent, and honest ex-Navy SEAL named Erik Prince. Even NPR, on a story about Blackwater referred to its founder as "a Christian”.

The polemical assaults were launched on anti-American blogs and Marxist/socialist websites (Workers World, for example,) and dumb, pompous, left-wing radio shows like “Democracy Now” and by the proselytizing of liberals of the Huffington Post/ Jon Stewart variety, who had succumbed to McCarthyite Bushophobia some time ago. The left has successfully moved its corporate objectification from the evil of Haliburton to the evil of Blackwater.

Posted by Richard Carlson

No comments:

Post a Comment