12 thoughts on “9-year old Iraqi boy killed by Blackwater/Xe

  1. Goldsmith ‘misled Government over Iraq war’

    By Sam Marsden and Mark Bulstrode, Press Association

    Tuesday, 2 February 2010

    The Attorney General “misled” the Government over the case for going to war with Iraq, Clare Short told the inquiry into the conflict today.

    Ms Short, who was international development secretary at the time, said she was not aware of Lord Goldsmith’s “doubts and his changes of opinion” over the issue.

    Lord Goldsmith gave legal advice before Britain committed to going to battle against Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

    Giving evidence to the inquiry panel, Ms Short said: “I think he misled the Cabinet. He certainly misled me, but people let it through.”

    In light of Lord Goldsmith’s “doubts and his changes of opinion” that have since emerged, Ms Short added: “I think for the Attorney General to come and say there’s unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading.”

    Ms Short claimed that Lord Goldsmith was “leaned on” by former Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree that the war was legal.

    The Attorney General provisionally advised Mr Blair in January 2003 that it would be unlawful to invade Iraq without a further United Nations Security Council resolution.

    But he changed his mind a month later after being persuaded to talk to senior US government lawyers and Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock.

    Ms Short told the inquiry: “Lord Goldsmith said he was excluded from lots of meetings – that’s a form of pressure.

    “It was suggested to him that he go to the US to get advice about the legal position.

    “You have got the Bush administration who have very low respect for international law. It seems the most extraordinary place in the world to go to get advice about international law.”

    She dismissed as “nonsense” Sir Jeremy’s advice to Lord Goldsmith that other permanent UN Security Council members accepted another resolution was not essential.

    Ms Short added: “I think all that was leaning on – sending him to America, excluding him and then including him.”

    Mr Blair and Lord Goldsmith both denied in their evidence to the inquiry that the Attorney General was put under pressure.

    Ms Short described the Cabinet meeting on March 17, at which Lord Goldsmith presented his final and unequivocal advice that the war would be legal without a further resolution.

    She recalled that the Attorney General was sitting in the seat of Robin Cook, who resigned as Leader of the House of Commons over the war that day.

    The former international development secretary said it was not true – as claimed by Mr Blair and Lord Goldsmith in their testimony to the inquiry – that the Cabinet was given the chance to ask questions.

    She said she started to ask the Attorney General why the advice was so late but was “jeered at” to be quiet by other Ministers.

    When she later repeated the question to Lord Goldsmith, he replied: “Oh, it takes me a long time to make my mind up.”

    Ms Short told the inquiry that she was “stunned” by the legal advice but accepted it at the time.

    She said: “I thought, in the teeth of war, the Attorney General of the UK coming to Cabinet to give legal advice – this is a very serious, monumental thing and that’s his advice, and I’m very surprised but you must accept it.”

    But she said the Cabinet would have had second thoughts if it had seen the detailed 13-page legal advice that Lord Goldsmith sent Mr Blair on March 7.

    “I think people would have thought it was much more equivocal and risky and wanted to be more sure,” she said.

    Ministers should also have been told that the Foreign Office’s two most senior legal advisers believed there was no legal authority for the war, she added.

    The Cabinet was not told that Lord Goldsmith secretly asked Mr Blair on March 14, 2003 to give a written confirmation that Saddam Hussein was in breach of previous UN resolutions, the inquiry heard.

    Ms Short said: “I think we should have been told that. That was all kept from us and we were just given the PQ (Parliamentary Question) answer that said unequivocal legal authority, no questions asked, no doubt.

    “I think that’s misleading.”

    The inquiry also heard that Ms Short warned Mr Blair weeks before the war began that the US was unprepared for running the country after the invasion.

    She said the US body set up to rebuild post-invasion Iraq, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, was “under-staffed, under-resourced and under-prepared for the scale of the challenge”.

    Appealing for more time, Ms Short wrote to the prime minister on March 5 2003: “You should be aware that the US and the international humanitarian community are not properly prepared to deal with the immediate humanitarian concerns.”

    She also cautioned Mr Blair that reconstructing Iraq without an explicit UN mandate would breach international law.

    Ms Short resigned as international development secretary nearly eight weeks after the invasion on March 20 2003.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/goldsmith-misled-government-over-iraq-war-1886799.html

  2. Senate panel finds lawless Blackwater contractors

    February 23, 2010 10:42 PM

    ANNE FLAHERTY
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — A Senate investigation accuses the Army of turning a blind eye when a Blackwater subsidiary hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared “sidearms for everyone” even though employees weren’t authorized to carry weapons.

    The findings by Democratic staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee paint a disturbing picture of lawlessness that contributed to the May 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians and fed anti-Western sentiment in the region.

    “Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and with almost no consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow,” said Sen. Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman.

    “Even one irresponsible act by contractor personnel can hurt the mission and put our troops in harm’s way,” Levin said.

    Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the company, which is now known as Xe Services, said management was taking steps to address shortcomings in the program when the shootings occurred.

    “The individual independent contractors actions the night of May 5th clearly violated clear company policies and they are being held accountable,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

    Former employees of the company’s subsidiary Paravant — Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff — have been charged with killing two Afghans and injuring a third.

    Cannon and Drotleff were not supposed to be armed and had been drinking.

    They also probably shouldn’t have been hired by Blackwater at all. Drotleff’s lengthy criminal record included assault and battery, while his three-year career in the Marines ended after seven unauthorized absences, assault and other charges.

    Cannon had been discharged from the Army after going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine, although he later petitioned successfully to have his military records changed to an honorable discharge.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee planned to convene a hearing on Wednesday. Among those expected to testify were several former Blackwater contracting officials and contracting officers for the Army.

    Levin said he wanted to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 2009 shooting because it was such an obvious example of lax oversight of the estimated 100,000 contractors working in Afghanistan.

    Blackwater has been involved in several security incidents, including the 2007 shooting at Nisoor Square in Baghdad that killed 17 people, including women and children. Since the shooting, the Myock, N.C.-based Blackwater has renamed itself Xe Services and overhauled its management.

    Iraq has pulled the company’s license to operate in the country.

    Levin said he wants to determine who should be held accountable for the gaps in oversight that led to the 2009 shooting and what should happen to prevent future incidents. But he stopped short of suggesting that Xe be barred from working with the military overseas.

    The senator said that among the startling discoveries in his investigation was that contracting personnel acquired several hundred weapons, including more than 500 AK-47s, from a U.S. facility in Kabul that stores the weapons for use by the Afghan police.

    The committee obtained a November 2008 e-mail from a company vice president that said, “I got sidearms for everyone… We have not yet received formal permission from the Army to carry weapons yet but I will take my chances.”

    Corallo called the distribution of weapons without prior authorization a “shortcoming” in the program.

    “Though Raytheon, the prime contractor, and the (Defense Department) customer were both aware of Paravant management’s decision, and were working to obtain authorization, contractors should not have been armed without the proper approvals,” he said.

    Army contracting officials did not respond to requests for comment.

  3. More than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these unaccountable hired guns have shot civilians and participated in torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities.

    The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, just introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like Blackwater to perform tasks traditionally done by the military.

    Please urge your representative to co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act.

    Bob Fertik

    We can’t continue to outsource our security.
    Stop Blackwater.

    Tell your rep: “Please co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act (HR 4650). We must stop relying on private, for-profit companies like Blackwater to wage our wars with little regard for anything beyond their bottom line”.

    take action

    This is how we stop Blackwater for good.

    Dear Friend,

    There’s finally a bill to stop private, for-profit companies like Blackwater from waging war in our name with little regard for anything beyond their bottom line.

    More than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these unaccountable hired guns have shot civilians and participated in torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities.

    The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, just introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like Blackwater to perform tasks traditionally done by the military.

    Click here to sign our petition to urge your representative to co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act.

    Recent Congressional hearings have painted a dismal picture of Blackwater’s operations. Employees stole hundreds of weapons meant for Afghan national police. They billed the U.S. government for a prostitute. They created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts after they trashed the Blackwater name.

    But Blackwater is just the poster child for all that’s wrong with hiring mercenaries for our military tasks. Contractors waste billions of taxpayer dollars while engaging in legally and ethically questionable activities. And when they commit morally repugnant acts like the killing civilians, they’re doing so on our dime and in our name.

    The Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act would ban private security contractors from performing military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions. The bill also imposes better transparency requirements on existing contracts, so firms like Blackwater that still have contracts would be forced to report their activities more frequently and would be under better Congressional oversight.

    Such oversight is desperately needed for economic as well as human rights reasons. As the most contracted-out war in U.S. history, the conflict in Afghanistan is a model of fiscal irresponsibility. The Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting called the billions of wasted taxpayer dollars “fiscal hemorrhaging.”

    And worst of all, the number of private military contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan just keeps growing. In fact, private mercenaries far outnumber U.S. military personnel. It’s hard to tell the difference between a security contractor and a U.S. service person — and when these hired guns shoot civilians, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are rightly outraged at the United States.

    It’s past time we stopped wasting money and destroying lives with our reliance on mercenary contractors.

    Click here to sign the petition to ask your representative to co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act and put an end to private contractors performing duties our military should.

    Thank you for standing up to companies like Blackwater.

    LiAnna Davis, Campaign Manager
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    P.S. It was recently reported that despite Blackwater’s atrocious record, it is likely to get a $1 billion contract from the Department of Defense to train the Afghan police.

    Click here to sign our petition and tell your representative to co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act and stop Blackwater for good.

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