This video is called Blackwater, America‘s Private Army.
By Kate Randall:
Blackwater mercenaries resume patrols in wake of Baghdad civilian killings
24 September 2007
Armed guards of Blackwater USA have resumed escorting American officials in Baghdad less than a week after the security company shot and killed at least 11 Iraqi civilians and wounded at least 13 others.
The decision by the US embassy to send the mercenaries back onto the streets of the Iraqi capital came despite calls by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the US State Department sack the company, and a demand by the Iraqi government that security personnel from Blackwater and other security firms be stripped of their immunity from prosecution.
The redeployment of the Blackwater patrols flies in the face of Bush administration claims that it is building a “sovereign” Iraq government, and that the US occupation is making progress in its mission to bring “democracy” to the beleaguered country.
Blackwater in Iraq video: here.
US retired generals against Iraq war: here.
Activists converge for Encampment to Stop the War
Encampment to Stop the War
Vernon Hoffman, Michelle Darr, Tala, Willow and Grace bicycled all the way from Portland, Oregon to join the Encampment to Stop the War. They will be with us all week and will participate in the national march on September 29. Pictured:Willow and Grace.
Anti-war activists, veterans, military families, and community organizers from across the U.S. have arrived for the Encampment to Stop the War directly in front of the Capitol in Washington D.C., which began on Saturday.
People have traveled from as far away as Oregon, Florida, and Maine to participate in the Encampment. One family rode 4,500 miles on bicycles. Code Pink and the Green Party have pitched their tents.
Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have arrived in a large bus that will remain in front of the encampment for the week. Signs on the bus read, “Don’t attack Iran” and “Impeach Bush.” More organizers will be arriving throughout the week (see photos and updates at http://encampmenttostopthewar.blogspot.com).
The Encampment is timed to coincide with the expiration of the current round of funding for the war and the ongoing debates in Congress. The last appropriations passed by Congress are due to expire on October 1.
Larry Holmes of the Troops Out Now Coalition expressed why so many felt the urgent need to protest here this week: “Congress was elected with a clear mandate to bring the troops home. All we’ve seen so far are delaying tactics and political theater. The Democrats in Congress could stop funding the war today if they decided to. They could keep a funding bill from ever coming to the floor, because they’re in the leadership. We’re here to demand that they do what they were
Encampment to Stop the War
Activists at the Encampment raising the banner in front of the Capitol, September 22.
elected to do–cut the funding and bring the troops home now. We’ll be here all week with banners, placards, and protests to stop the war at home and abroad.”
Actions during the Encampment will include:
• Nightly concerts, including hip-hop, jazz, soul, folk, and spoken word
• Daily protests, including direct actions
• Reports from the massive protests to Free the Jena 6
• Youth protests and civil disobedience
• A report from the Katrina/Rita Tribunal, held in New Orleans on the second anniversary of the Katrina disaster
• Teach-ins, panels, and planning sessions
• A Friday night vigil featuring the cast from SiCKO, in remembrance of all who have died from lack of health care
• Actions in support of immigrant rights and political prisoners
For an updated schedule see http://www.troopsoutnow.org.
End the War – Keep War Funding Off The Floor!
What if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to present a bill on the floor of Congress to fund the criminal U.S. occupation of Iraq? The possibility of a Bush veto would not be an issue.
Although there are billions of dollars still in the pipeline, Bush and the Pentagon, faced with a new political reality, would be forced to begin making plans for withdrawal.
As Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has full control over which pieces of legislation make it onto the floor of House to be voted on. The Democratic Party majority in Congress could just sit on any war spending bill and there would be no funds for the war
Funding for war in Iraq could be stopped at any number of steps in either the House or Senate.
According to the U.S. constitution spending bills have to originate in the House of Representatives. Congress has control over executive branch by having decisive control of funds for war.
Not only does the Speaker of the House control the legislation put on the floor for a vote, the Democrats, as the majority party, currently control the chair of all committees in both houses of congress. The Appropriations Committee could also just not bring the funding bill out of committee.
As the new majority Speaker of the House, one of Nancy Pelosis first acts was to declare that Impeachment proceedings against President Bush were off the table. This meant she would refuse to allow this burning issue to come to the floor of House. If instead as House Speaker, Pelosi were to declare that war funding is off the table, funding for war would not be possible.
When millions of people voted for Democratic Party politicians, who claimed to be anti-war last November, this is exactly the kinds of legislative actions they expected a Democratic, supposedly anti-war majority in Congress to take.
It is important to confront the direct fraud that the Democratic majority in Congress is putting forth in their complicity on voting to fund the war.
Even though they control the majority in both houses even since election they have given endless excuses about how they do not have the votes to do what they promised to do.
The Democrats claim that because they do not have a 2/3 majority they are powerless to over rule Bush’s veto on the war funding. So they must pass a bill that Bush would approve. They could simply refuse to present a bill for ANY war funding.
They clearly have the Constitutional authority, the legislative power and political mandate.
But it will take a massive determined, angry and independent movement to force the conciliatory Democratic majority in Congress to put Impeachment on the table and take war funding off the table.
The Democrats with endless help from the corporate media have presented a hand wringing theatrical fraud about their lack of sufficient votes to take any action against the war.
Spending bills originates in House Appropriations Committee. Dave Obey (D Wisc). Obey could also simple refuse to move funding for the war out of committee. This is the fate of many hundreds of bills introduced into Congress each your. Most bills die in committee.
The Appropriations Committee has a Sub-committee on Defense chaired by John Murfa (D-PA), who says he wants to bring troops home He could do this by refusing to bring forward funding for the war.
At every stage Congress could act to stop funding the war.
After a funding bill is approved in the House of Representatives it moves to the Senate. Senator Robert Byrd, D-VA, head of the Senate Appropriations committee and so eloquently opposed to war could just refuse to move the bill thru the Senate Appropriations Committee. Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader could refuse to bring a bill to the Senate floor. Any of these measures would also kill the multi-billion dollar war funding bill.
There would be no need to have a 60% majority to stop a Republican filibuster nor would the supposed anti-war Democrats need a 2/3 majority to overcome a presidential veto.
To further justify their collaboration on the war, members of Congress use their supposed concern for U.S. troops as a human shield. They are hiding behind soldiers and the threat that if they cut off funds U.S. soldiers would wake up tomorrow and not have food, water, even have funds to pull out.
This is also a fraud. The Pentagon does not live pay check to paycheck like working people do. The budget and supply process is decided months and years in advance. There is a long supply chain planning and allocation are known many months in advance.
The Pentagon is using the funds for Iraq war to plan and prepare new wars against Iran. Half the U.S. navy has moved to within striking range of Iran. More than 10,000 sites have been targeted by Pentagon planners.
Congress and media know the determination of corporate America is to stay in Iraq for a generation or more.
As Congress again votes before the October 1 deadline to continue the war a political challenge is being prepared by the Troops Out Now Coalition. The greatest contribution of the Encampment scheduled to take place directly in front of Congress from Sept 22 to 29 is to show the kind of independent mass action that is needed to really end the war. Learning through bitter experience about the role of both capitalist parties is an essential part of the struggle to end the war.
Blackwater Sparks An Internal Battle
Military, State Department Debate Control
By SUDARSAN RAGHAVAN | And THOMAS E. RICKS Washington Post
September 26, 2007
BAGHDAD – A confrontation between the U.S. military and the State Department is unfolding over the involvement of the private security contractor Blackwater USA in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square Sept. 16, according to U.S. military and government officials.
The dispute is bringing to the surface long-simmering tensions between such security operators and the military in Iraq. Blackwater guards the State Department’s diplomatic corps in the country.
In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department’s authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions. “The military is very sensitive to its relationship that they’ve built with the Iraqis being altered or even severely degraded by actions such as this event,” the official said.
“This is a nightmare,” said a senior U.S. military official. “We had guys who saw the aftermath and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we’re trying to have an impact for the long term.” The official was referring to the prison scandal that emerged in 2004 in which some U.S. soldiers tortured and abused Iraqis.
In last week’s incident, Blackwater guards shot into a crush of cars, killing at least 11 Iraqis and wounding 12. Blackwater officials insist their guards were ambushed, but witnesses have described the shooting as unprovoked. Iraq’s Interior Ministry has already concluded that Blackwater was at fault.
In interviews involving a dozen U.S. military and government officials, many expressed anger and concern over the shootings in Nisoor Square, in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood. Some worried it could undermine the military’s efforts to stabilize Iraq this year with an offensive involving thousands of reinforcements.
“This is a big mess that I don’t think anyone has their hands around yet,” said another U.S. military official. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing these guys are being held accountable. Iraqis hate them, the troops don’t particularly care for them, and they tend to have a “know-it-all’ attitude, which means they rarely listen to anyone – even the folks that patrol the ground on a daily basis.”
Most officials spoke on condition of anonymity because there are at least three ongoing investigations of Blackwater’s role in the shootings. There are also sensitive discussions between various U.S. agencies and the Iraqi government over the future of Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq.
A State Department official asked why the military is shifting the question to State “since the DOD has more Blackwater contractors than we do, including people doing PSD (personal security detail) for them. … They [Blackwater] have basically got contracts with DOD that are larger than the contracts with State.”
Directly addressing the question of tension between Defense and State, the official then said: “The bottom line of this is that we recognize that there’s an issue here. We don’t think we need to be told by anyone else that the incident on Sept. 16 raised a whole series of other issues with respect to how these kinds of contract services operate and that’s why we’re both working with this joint commission with the Iraqis as well as [conducting an] internal investigation here to ensure we can address some of the underlying issues.”
Scores of private security firms play a vital role in the U.S. military mission, from force protection to securing the perimeters of U.S. bases and guarding generals. They free up more U.S. soldiers for combat duty and to secure neighborhoods.
At the same time, the military has long been wary of private security guards, especially those who, in the military’s view, don’t follow the rules of engagement that govern soldiers.
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