Blackwater mercenaries kill Iraqi civilian


In this video, Jeremy Scahill of US magazine The Nation describes the rise of Blackwater USA, the world’s most powerful mercenary army.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad

Blackwater Employees Were Involved in Two Shooting Incidents in Past Week

By Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi

Washington Post Foreign Service

Sunday, May 27, 2007; Page A01

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation.

On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm’s policy of not addressing incidents publicly.

Blackwater’s security consulting division holds at least $109 million worth of State Department contracts in Iraq …

But last week’s incidents underscored how deeply these hired guns have been drawn into the war, their murky legal status and the grave consequences that can ensue when they take aggressive action.

Matthew Degn, a senior American civilian adviser to the Interior Ministry’s intelligence directorate, described the ministry as “a powder keg” after the Iraqi driver was shot Thursday, with anger at Blackwater spilling over to other Americans working in the building.

Degn said he was concerned the incident “could undermine a lot of the cordial relationships that have been built up over the past four years. There’s a lot of angry people up here right now.” …

The Iraqi official said the driver encountered the Blackwater convoy after leaving a gas station just outside the Interior Ministry.

Some witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked, the official said. He said the driver had wounds in his shoulder, chest and head.

The Blackwater employees refused to divulge their names or details of the incident to Iraqi authorities, according to two of the U.S. officials and the Iraqi official.

The officials described a tense standoff that ensued between the Blackwater guards and Interior Ministry forces — both sides armed with assault rifles — until a passing U.S. military convoy intervened.

Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, said the company did not discuss specific incidents. …

Blackwater is now the most prominent of dozens of security companies working in Iraq, with hundreds of guards and a fleet of armored vehicles and helicopters.

The Interior Ministry, which regulates security companies for the Iraqi government, has received four previous complaints of shooting incidents involving Blackwater in the past two years, according to Hussein Kamal, undersecretary for intelligence affairs.

But in an interview before last week’s shootings, Kamal said Iraqi authorities have been hampered by a Coalition Provisional Authority order granting contractors immunity from the Iraqi legal process.

Interior Ministry officials said Blackwater has not applied to operate as a private security company in Iraq.

That process has been completed by several security firms with U.S. government contracts, including ArmorGroup International and Aegis Defense Services, two British companies.

Australian mercenaries: here.

Crescent Security Group mercenaries in Iraq: here.

US soldiers against Iraq war: here.

31 thoughts on “Blackwater mercenaries kill Iraqi civilian

  1. Lord have mercy(naries)!
    Posted by: “Compañero” companyero@bellsouth.net chocoano05
    Mon Jun 4, 2007 6:38 pm (PST)

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20070603_What_if_our_mercenaries_turn_on_us_.html

    What if our mercenaries turn on us?

    Chris Hedges is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and won a Pulitzer Prize as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times

    Armed units from the private security firm Blackwater USA opened
    fire in Baghdad streets twice in two days last week. It triggered a
    standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, a
    reminder that the war in Iraq may be remembered mostly in our
    history books for empowering and building America’s first modern
    mercenary army.

    There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors
    working in Iraq, although there are no official figures and some
    estimates run much higher. Security contractors are not counted as
    part of the coalition forces. When the number of private mercenary
    fighters is added to other civilian military “contractors” who carry
    out logistical support activities such as food preparation, the
    number rises to about 126,000.

    “We got 126,000 contractors over there, some of them making more
    than the secretary of defense,” said House defense appropriations
    subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D., Pa.). “How in the hell do you
    justify that?”

    The privatization of war hands an incentive to American
    corporations, many with tremendous political clout, to keep us mired
    down in Iraq. But even more disturbing is the steady rise of this
    modern Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome was a
    paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part
    of the political discourse, and eventually plunged the Roman
    Republic into tyranny and despotism. Despotic movements need
    paramilitary forces that operate outside the law, forces that sow
    fear among potential opponents, and are capable of physically
    silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors. And in the
    wrong hands, a Blackwater could well become that force.

    American taxpayers have so far handed a staggering $4 billion to
    “armed security” companies in Iraq such as Blackwater, according to
    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Henry
    Waxman (D., Calif.). Tens of billions more have been paid to
    companies that provide logistical support. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.,
    Ill.) of the House Intelligence Committee estimates that 40 cents of
    every dollar spent on the occupation has gone to war contractors. It
    is unlikely that any of these corporations will push for an early
    withdrawal. The profits are too lucrative.

    Mercenary forces like Blackwater operate beyond civilian and
    military law. They are covered by a 2004 edict passed by American
    occupation authorities in Iraq that immunizes all civilian
    contractors in Iraq from prosecution.

    Blackwater, barely a decade old, has migrated from Iraq to set up
    operations in the United States and nine other countries. It trains
    Afghan security forces and has established a base a few miles from
    the Iranian border. The huge contracts from the war – including $750
    million from the State Department since 2004 – have allowed
    Blackwater to amass a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, including
    helicopter gunships. Jeremy Scahill, the author of Blackwater: The
    Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, points out that
    Blackwater has also constructed “the world’s largest private
    military facility – a 7,000-acre compound near the Great Dismal
    Swamp of North Carolina.” Blackwater also recently opened a facility
    in Illinois (“Blackwater North”) and, despite local opposition, is
    moving ahead with plans to build another huge training base near San
    Diego. The company recently announced it was creating a private
    intelligence branch called “Total Intelligence.”

    Erik Prince, who founded and runs Blackwater, is a man who appears
    to have little time for the niceties of democracy. He has close ties
    with the radical Christian Right and the Bush White House. He
    champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military.
    His employees, in an act as cynical as it is dishonest, take an oath
    of loyalty to the Constitution. But what he and his allies have
    built is a mercenary army, paid for with government money, which
    operates outside the law and without constitutional constraint.

    Mercenary units are a vital instrument in the hands of despotic
    movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century
    each built rogue paramilitary forces. And the appearance of
    Blackwater fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black
    uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of
    Hurricane Katrina, may be a grim taste of the future. In New Orleans
    Blackwater charged the government $240,000 a day.

    ” ‘It cannot happen here’ is always wrong,” the philosopher Karl
    Popper wrote. “A dictatorship can happen anywhere.”

    The word contractor helps launder the fear and threat out of a more
    accurate term: “paramilitary force.” We’re not supposed to have such
    forces in the United States, but we now do. And if we have them, we
    have a potential threat to democracy. On U.S. soil, Blackwater so
    far has shown few signs of being an out-and-out rogue retainer army,
    though they looked the part in New Orleans. But were this country to
    become even a little less stable, outfits like Blackwater might see
    a heyday. If the United States falls into a period of instability
    caused by another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic
    meltdown that triggers social unrest, or a series of environmental
    disasters, such paramilitary forces, protected and assisted by
    fellow ideologues in the police and military, could ruthlessly
    abolish what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge
    profits it hands to corporations, and to right-wing interests such
    as the Christian Right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared on the streets in New Orleans could appear on our streets.

    Chris Hedges (hedgesscoop@aol.com) is author, mostly recently, of
    “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.”

    Like

  2. let blackwater do their job what makes you think iraqi lives are worth the same as AMERICANS 1000 iraqi lives are not worth the loss of 1 U.S. MARINE you better learn the meaning of loyalty stop worrying about people that are killing our U.S. soldiers

    Like

  3. Hi vince, “let blackwater do their job”: just like Adolf Hitler’s supporters used to say: “let the Waffen SS do their job”, without any democratic control. “what makes you think iraqi lives are worth the same as AMERICANS 1000 iraqi lives are not worth the loss of 1 U.S. MARINE”: just like Adolf Hitler’s supporters used to say: “what makes you think Jewish (and Roma; Slavic; etc.) lives are worth the same as Germans”. Or, in the thinking of a Ku Klux Klansman in the USA, a white person is supposedly worth over a 1000 times the life of an African American. Why don’t you do anything about your problems of racist and chickenhawk (as you are not in Iraq, and let others do the fighting in the war which you support) mentality?

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  4. Hi Administrator…Absolutely let Blackwater do their Job!!!! Although I do agree that everyone’s life is worth something if you play with fire you get burned. The Iraqi people have been dealing with the Military as well as security companies for how long now?? If they tell you to stop or we will shoot….stop. Their mission is to protect their passengers and that is what they did. Those innocent citizens were probably all armed with rockets and grenades at the time of the shooting. However, since the scene couldn’t be secured because of the need for Blackwater to keep moving to keep their passenger safe, who knows what they did with the scene? This sir or madam, included the terrorist that call themselves the Iraqi Police. Iraqi people want money from Blackwater for the unfortunate innocent..if in fact their were any innocent, but they could care less about the 100’s that are killed by their own people every day. Support our Military and Blackwater because they in fact are trying to do their job. Walk in their shoes, trust me they are big ones to fill. I am very familiar with the situation in Iraq and am educated on the actual TRUE situation there. If you wanna BLOG something….try finding out why we are holding innocent (since you use that word so freely without the truth) prisoners with no charges at Gutomino Bay. The truth is we should support anyone that goes to Iraq in support of what our Government forced on us by putting us in this war. Those hero’s are risking their lives for others.

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  5. Must also say this Administrator…if you had the guts to go to Iraq you would be begging those that you called THUGS to protect your chicken tail. It is fair that I call you a chicken, even though I don’t know you, since you can call them THUGS and don’t know them right? Surely that is part of democracy, or is it ignorance?

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  6. Hi Sandy, you are very strong on abuse and very weak on facts. The word “thugs” on Blackwater is from Chris Hedges, not mine; you might have found out that if you would be able to read and write the English language properly. Then, you would also be able to spell “Guantanamo” instead of “Gutomino” for that infamous torture camp, whose inmates include children in their early teens, and peasants denounced as “terrorists” to US troops who don’t understand any Afghan language by corrupt Afghans out for money.

    How would you call people murdering civilians while claiming to be not subject to Iraqi laws, nor to US military courts? If you call the new Iraqi police “terrorists”, then, well, that force was formed and developed under the occupation of George W. Bush, so then he is obviously the top terrorist.

    So please, get some education first before commenting here. Bush supporters like you should be very aware how historians judge the supporters of Adolf Hitler in the 1940s now. Over million Iraqis were killed since Bush invaded, and thousands of US soldiers, and counting … for how long yet??

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  7. Wrong again…you are the one that is strong on abuse and not facts. You attack my person, since of course you cannot do anything else. But, I think it is funny that you get angry and attack me personally. Actually, me defending Blackwater has absolutely nothing to do with Bush. I am only defending the job that Blackwater does because I know first hand what they do, and the people that they are. I am also not for anyone loosing their life no matter who they are. However, as you said Bush sent our soldiers there so what would you have liked for them to do exactly? Blackwater is also working for America protecting Americans in Iraq. I am very aware of the deaths in Iraq. Also, if I didn’t have someone very close to me that was employed by Blackwater so that I do have first hand knowledge I wouldn’t comment at all. Bush didn’t put the Iraqi police in power there. I am definately not a Bush supporter, however I also know that you cannot blame one man for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq.

    Lastly, you told me to “get some education” maybe I should “GET SOME” from the same place you did. I am sorry for my mispelled Guatanamo and also for acusing you of calling them Thugs. I read that incorrectly. But, as for the English language maybe you should GET SOME education since you think Guatanamo is part of the English language. My point about Guatanamo is that we need to charge those people or release them. I too think that is a horrible place.

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  8. Let he without sin cast the first stone…look at #3 that you wrote MR ENGLISH PROFESSOR. Check out your last sentence “Why don’t you done”. Please, oh please, teach ME to write correctly. You really should just stick to the facts instead of attacking me personally. Because, as you can see, you definately have no room to talk.

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  9. Reply to Sandy #7; quote: “However, as you said Bush sent our soldiers there so what would you have liked for them to do exactly?” Blackwater are NOT soldiers; in fact very many US soldiers in Iraq don’t like them. However, contrary to your point, they got a contract from the Bush administration to go there; and they supported Bush’s election campaigns financially. So, they DO have much to do with Bush.

    Quote: ‘I am also not for anyone loosing their life no matter who they are.’ That is fine (by the way, it is “losing”). However, then, how do you square that with yourr support here for Vince Galassi; who wrote in comment #2: “what makes you think iraqi lives are worth the same as AMERICANS 1000 iraqi lives are not worth the loss of 1 U.S. MARINE”? That is extremely similar to the viewpoint of Hitler’s supporters on German and Jewish lives.

    Indeed, Bush is not the only person to blame for the death of over a million Iraqis (figures from a British think tank which has also worked for Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives and Blair’s New Labour) and a number of US sodiers killed fast approaching 4,000. Maybe Cheney and Rumsfeld are even more guilty. However, they are part of the Bush administration.

    Quote: “Bush didn’t put the Iraqi police in power there.” Yes, he did, as the old pre 2003 Iraqi police and armed forces were disbanded after the invasion of Baghdad; and new units were set up under Bush.

    Thank you for your apology for first spelling “Gutomino”. Now, you spell “Guatanamo” which is somewhat of an improvement; though the “n” after “Gua” is still missing.

    Thank you, more importantly, for your point on Guantanamo in this new message: “My point about Guatanamo is that we need to charge those people or release them. I too think that is a horrible place.” Exactly. And since the Bush administration had over 5 years “to charge those people”; but did not do so; and has by now released a minority of them without any charges; what do you think one should conclude from this?

    I should apologize to you about my words “Why don’t you done”. That was in my reply, not to you, but to Vince Galassi; I I have now corrected it, thanks. I should not then have my revulsion about him claiming that US lives are supposedly worth more than Iraqi lives get the better of me. Also, contrary to many commenters on this blog, English is not my first language.

    Last: do you know how Blackwater treats quite some of its own employees in Iraq; and the accusations of those people, and of their surviving family members, against its boss Mr Prince and the rest of the management?

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  10. I too get ahead of myself when talking about something that is important to me, and when trying to make a point. Not to mention the fact that I have three children wanting something every second, my husband, who is an employee of Blackwater, is currently in Iraq and has been there since 2004.

    You are correct Blackwater are not military, although ex military, but they do help the military. I am not sure what military branch doesn’t like Blackwater employee’s because I also have several family, and friends that are military and stationed in Iraq and they say how much they appreciate Blackwater. But, as you know everyone is going to have an opinion. I do know that many people do not like the fact that Blackwater employees make more money usually than the military. Unfortunately, a doctor in the military dosen’t make as much as in the private sector, nor nurse, nor police, so Blackwater is consider private sector security.

    It is not the American way to believe that someone’s life is worth more than someone else’s and that saddens me for anyone to think that way. But, he will have to deal with that hate. Unfortunately, Iraq is not a civilized place. They kill their own people by blowing themselves up in the name of religion (or so they say). I cannot even begin to understand how they think and it is the majority. There are good people there but the majority does rule there. My husband has made many friends (Iraqi people) there and he is a very good man. He has even sent some of their pictures home to me because they asked him to. Iraqi people want to be in America and they think their souls are here if their pictures are. He is doing his part for his country and that is really what he believes. Sure, he makes good money for his family so we can send our children to college someday.

    We put Sadam in power years ago…was it Clinton? Not sure, but it wasn’t Bush I know for a fact. Sadam was an evil man that needed to be taken out of power. However, I really don’t believe that it helped because the Iraqi people had never seen real freedom and now I don’t think they know how to handle it.

    My husband and many Blackwater employees put their lives on the line every day to protect American Diplomates. They are Americans protecting Americans. I just don’t know what they expect them to do when someone comes up beside them and sets off a car bomb and disables one of their vehicles with small arms fire. I know that you never know who the enemy is there because they can be any age and any sex.

    Lastly, if you are speaking of how Mr. Prince treats employees as in those four that were burned by Iraqi’s and dragged down the street. I believe that those guys knew what they were getting into when they agreed to the contract and the misson. The contract tells you exactly what can happen and how dangerous it is there. However, I am very sorry for those families that lost there loved ones. I think we should blame those Iraqi’s that burned them and dragged them….but nobody could get money out of them if they sued them. I say, let your husband, father, or son be a hero. I am sure that is how they would want to be remembered. It could be me at anytime and I promise you that is the way I would feel.

    I really cannot understand why Mr. Prince’s being a republican is such a big deal. He has that right, and has the right to support his campaign if he wants. Obviously, he is not the only person that voted for Bush. By the way, I did not vote for Bush. If you are saying that they got the contract because of that, research that and see how many other wars or unsecure nations they have traveled too. The truth is Blackwater employee’s are the most trained security company in Iraq. Their qualifications for employeement are higher than any other security company there also. I am sure that the insurgent’s don’t like them because they would love to kill who they are protecting.

    Again, excuse my errors I am cooking supper for three kids, doing homework, ironing clothes, and cleaning house, all at the same time. Quickly, I must tell you what my 10 year old daughter who is reading over my shoulder just said to me “Mama you can get in trouble for saying you didn’t vote for Bush”. She gets that from public school, not home.

    As for those prisoners, charge them or let them go. I guess we just have to hope they are not terrorist since by now they should have charged them, period.

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  11. Hi Sandy, thank you for this reply, and I am happy some misunderstandings have been solved.

    Quote: “Mama you can get in trouble for saying you didn’t vote for Bush”. I sincerely hope that will not be true for you, though some other US citizens did get in trouble just for using their constitutional right to spreak out against Bush.

    I hope all US soldiers and other US people, including Blackwater employees, in Iraq are brought home safely soon. As it is absolutely pointless after the marks of a million dead Iraqis and 3,800 dead US soldiers have been passed, to continue to even higher marks in this `nightmare` of a war, as General Sanchez, ex US commander in Iraq, called it recently.

    Quote ´Iraqi people want to be in America´. That is really saying something damning about the ´new Iraq´ which resulted from George W. Bush´s 2003 invasion. Over four million Iraqis have since become refugees. Two million to other regions in Iraq. Two million to other countries. Not many to the US, which hardly admits Iraqi refugees. Mostly to Syria and many other countries. While in all those years of Saddam Hussein dictatorship ´only´ some hundred thousands of people became refugees.

    Saddam Husein was put in power long before Clinton. When he was still in his late teens, when Eisenhower was US president in the 1950s, he already had CIA contacts.

    Saddam became president of Iraq in 1979. In the 1980s, he waged war against the Iraqi Kurds with poison gas, and against Iran. He then had the support of the US Reagan administration, including Cheney and Rumsfeld. Donald Rumsfeld came to Baghdad to shake hands with Saddam Hussein about weapons deals.

    About the Blackwater employees in Fallujah, see http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/53460/

    http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1503

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/03/30/1544240

    Best wishes to you.

    Like

  12. I am a loyal American, and I love my country. I support whoever our President is however, I don’t ever have to agree with everything the President does. I will teach my children the same. Thank you for your kindness and best wishes to you also.

    Like

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