Monday 21st of August 2017

the blackwater scholars .....

 

the blackwater scholars .....

The Iraqi government Monday ordered Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, to stop work and leave the country after the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

The order by the Interior Ministry, if carried out, would deal a severe blow to U.S. government operations in Iraq by stripping diplomats, engineers, reconstruction officials and others of their security protection.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

Iraq Expels American Security Firm

outlaws .....

"A Blackwater employee is not going to be subject to Iraqi courts," says Scott Silliman, director of the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security at Duke University.

The day before the Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist, L. Paul Bremer, the chief American envoy in Iraq, issued CPA Order 17, which "granted American private security contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts." Though "the Iraqi government has contested the continued application of this order," they are restrained from "changing or revoking CPA orders," so the order is still in effect.

It is unclear what U.S. laws would govern the actions of private security contractors operating in a foreign country. Though "uniformed military personnel are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and 'persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field' are technically subject as well," the application of the UCMJ to these private contractors would likely face constitutional challenges.

The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 covers civilians working for the Department of Defense, but even this would be insufficient to cover Blackwater employees involved in Sunday's shootout, since they are actually employed by the State Department.

and back in the land of the free...

A university student has been wrestled, held down and shot with a Taser gun — all for asking presidential candidate John Kerry a couple of questions.

The University of Florida's Andrew Meyer, 21, is shown in a YouTube video being wrestled by six officers and dragged towards the exit at a forum featuring Senator Kerry.

no provocation...

Guards’ Shots Not Provoked, Iraq Concludes

NYT
By SABRINA TAVERNISE and JAMES GLANZ
Published: September 21, 2007
BAGHDAD, Sept. 20 — Iraq’s Ministry of Interior has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday in which at least eight Iraqis were killed and is proposing a radical reshaping of the way American diplomats and contractors here are protected.

No dad's army...

From the Independent

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120bn global industry By Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle in Washington Published: 21 September 2007

In Nigeria, corporate commandos exchange fire with local rebels attacking an oil platform. In Afghanistan, private bodyguards help to foil yet another assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai. In Colombia, a contracted pilot comes under fire from guerrillas while spraying coca fields with pesticides. On the border between Iraq and Iran, privately owned Apache helicopters deliver US special forces to a covert operation.

This is a snapshot of a working day in the burgeoning world of private military companies, arguably the fastest-growing industry in the global economy. The sector is now worth up to $120bn annually with operations in at least 50 countries, according to Peter Singer, a security analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"The rate of growth in the security industry has been phenomenal," says Deborah Avant, a professor of political science at UCLA. The single largest spur to this boom is the conflict in Iraq.

 

still above the law .....

On Sunday, employees of an American private security company, Blackwater USA, were involved in a shoot out in Baghdad that left at least 11 civilians dead. A spokeswoman for the firm told reporters that the "independent contractors acted lawfully and appropriately in response to a hostile attack." On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack supported Blackwater's version of the events, saying "the basic fact is that there was an attack on the convoy." But yesterday, "a preliminary Iraqi report" stated, "There was not shooting against the convoy. ... There was no fire from anyone in the square." Witnesses who spoke to McClatchy supported the Iraqi report.

The State Department has dismissed the report. "The convoy came under attack and there was defensive fire as a result of that," said spokesman Tom Casey, adding that there are various eyewitness accounts. "This is different from an eyewitness account," replied a reporter. "This is the Iraqi investigation. So you're discounting their investigation." State's defense of Blackwater is not new.

The Washington Post reports today despite continuing complaints, "many U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives said they came to see Blackwater as untouchable, protected by State Department officials who defended the company at every turn."

traffickers and mercenaries

From Al Jazeera

Blackwater probed over Iraq weapons          

US prosecutors are investigating whether Blackwater USA, a private security firm operating in Iraq, illegally smuggled weapons into the country.
 
The alleged weapons may have reached the black market and ended up in the hands of groups fighting against US forces, according to officials.
   
Investigators have said enough evidence exists to file charges, the Associated Press news agency reported an unnamed official as saying on Friday.

amerikan terrorists .....

The shooting at a busy Baghdad intersection nearly two weeks ago that killed 11 Iraqis & wounded 12 has focused much-overdue attention on the role of American private security contractors operating in Iraq.

A comprehensive investigation by the Iraqi Interior Ministry concluded that the contractors hired by Blackwater USA fired "an unprovoked barrage" on the Iraqis, "while the company says its employees, who were working for the State Department, were responding to an attack on an American diplomatic convoy."

"This is a nightmare," said a senior U.S. military official of the incident. "This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib." As a result, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently dispatched a five-person fact-finding team to Iraq that concluded: "military commanders there were unclear about their legal authority" over contractors. My "concern is whether there has been sufficient accountability and oversight in the region over the activities of these security companies," Gates said.

In a three-page directive sent Tuesday night to the Pentagon's most senior officers, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England ordered them to review rules governing contractors' use of arms & to begin legal proceedings against any that have violated military law. "Commanders have [Uniform Code of Military Justice] authority to disarm, apprehend and detain DoD contractors suspected of having committed a felony offense" in violation of the rules for using force, England wrote.

Yet, while the Pentagon is cracking down, the State Department - under whose authority Blackwater currently operates - has not taken similar action, opting to side with Blackwater's version of the story while merely hoping the rising tensions will resolve themselves.

Blackwater, which employs nearly 1,000 guards in Iraq, has been employed by the State Department from the very early stages of the Iraq war to protect U.S. diplomats.

The Pentagon directive issued Tuesday night "does not affect private security guards under contract" to the State Department & therefore has no impact on Blackwater.

State Department officials "have been slow to acknowledge any potential failings" in their oversight of the company, but information leaked to the New York Times indicates that Blackwater "has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings" than other security firms providing similar services to the Department. "The real question...is why," said a senior American government official. The State Department "rarely" conducts thorough investigations of incidents involving Blackwater in Iraq. "We get almost weekly reports of such shootings," a State Department official told ABC News.

"But it is close to impossible to go the crime scene and interview witnesses." Blackwater "enjoys an unusually close relationship with the Bush administration." It has received "government contracts worth more than $1 billion since 2002." And now, it is being protected by the State Department, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. The department has ordered Blackwater not to provide Congress with documents that might shed light on its operations.

Blackwater, a North Carolina-based company, has "gained a reputation among Iraqis & even among American military personnel serving in Iraq as a company that flaunts an aggressive, quick-draw image that leads its security personnel to take excessively violent actions to protect the people they are paid to guard."

Senior Iraqi officials have "repeatedly complained to US officials about Blackwater USA's alleged involvement in the deaths of numerous Iraqis, but the Americans took little action to regulate the private security firm."

The shootings of 11 Iraqis have prompted the Iraqi government to aggressively assert its sovereignty. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has "referred its investigation of the Sept. 16 incident to a magistrate for possible criminal charges." Moreover, Iraqi officials announced on Tuesday that they were drafting a new law to control private security contractors, which would make them "subject to Iraqi law" and "monitored by the Iraqi government."

Under a directive signed by former Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer, all United States personnel were exempted from Iraqi law. But under a provision "slipped into the Pentagon's 2007 budget legislation," contractors' "get out of jail free" card was torn to shreds, writes Brookings analyst Peter Singer.

The Pentagon's fact-finding team discovered that US military commanders were "not certain whether they had the authority to enforce existing laws, including the US Uniform Code of Military Justice" against contractors. That may be because, despite the legal authority that now exists, "contractors are almost never prosecuted." "I think it's a very serious tension and one that this case exacerbates," said Rep. David Price (D-NC), who has been working on legislation that will hold U.S. contractors to federal law.

“It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there," said Republican Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky. "These guys represent the U.S. to them & there are no rules of the game for them."

Blackwater is the central feature in Mark Fior’s latest animation The War For Profit

Meanwhile, whilst Blackwater terrorizes the peopleof Iraq, the US Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday urging the bushit administration to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization & lawmakers briefly set aside partisan differences to approve a measure calling for stepped-up diplomacy to forge a political solution in Iraq.

Since last month, the White House has been weighing whether to declare the Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group or to take a narrower step focusing on only the Guard’s elite Quds Force. Either approach would signal a more confrontational posture by declaring a part of the Iranian military a terrorist operation.

Appearances by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Monday at Columbia University and on Tuesday at the United Nations, where he said Iran would ignore Security Council resolutions about its nuclear program, seemed to toughen the resolve of Senate Democrats, who had been hesitant to take an overly aggressive stance.

Cover ups

Other Killings By Blackwater Staff Detailed State Dept. Papers Tell of Coverup

By Karen DeYoung Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page A01

 

Blackwater security contractors in Iraq have been involved in at least 195 "escalation of force" incidents since early 2005, including several previously unreported killings of Iraqi civilians, according to a new congressional account of State Department and company documents.

In one of the killings, according to a State Department document, Blackwater personnel tried to cover up what had occurred and provided a false report. In another case, involving a Blackwater convoy's collision with 18 civilian vehicles, the firm accused its own personnel of lying about the event.

-------

Gus: see toon at the head of this line of blogs... 

Not even outlaws...

House Bill Would Allow Prosecution of Contractors
By DAVID STOUT
Published: October 4, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 — Amid the fallout over the shooting of Iraqis by private American security guards, the House today overwhelmingly passed a bill to make all private contractors working in Iraq subject to prosecution in United States civilian courts.

The vote was 389 to 30, with all of the “no” votes cast by Republicans. Voting for the bill were 225 Democrats and 164 Republicans.

Senate Democratic leaders are expected to introduce similar legislation soon, and if the support in that chamber is similar to that in the House, President Bush would have no hope of killing the legislation with a veto.

The White House and the Pentagon oppose the idea of putting contractors under the jurisdiction of civilian courts, arguing that it would insert civilian investigators into areas better covered under military law. But the recent shooting incident involving employees of Blackwater USA has exposed a loophole in current law that has left it unclear whether the security contractor’s employees are now bound by any law at all.

still shooting first....

Security guards 'kill two [more] Iraqis'

Private security guards have killed two Iraqi women in central Baghdad, Iraqi police have reported.

The security company involved in the incident has not been named.

more deep dark black water...

State Department Struggles To Oversee Private Army
The State Department Turned to Contractors Such as Blackwater Amid a Fight With the Pentagon Over Personal Security in Iraq

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007; A01

Last Christmas Day in Baghdad, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad received a furious phone call from Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi. An American -- drunk, armed, wandering through the Green Zone after a party -- had shot and killed one of his personal bodyguards the night before, Mahdi said. He wanted to see Khalilzad right away.

At the vice president's home, Khalilzad found the slain guard's family assembled. Mahdi demanded the names of the American and his employer. And he wanted the man turned over to the Iraqi government.

After consulting with the embassy's legal officer, Khalilzad identified the shooter as Andrew J. Moonen, an employee of Blackwater USA, the company that provides security for U.S. diplomats in Baghdad. But he would not deliver Moonen himself. Within 36 hours of the shooting, Blackwater and the embassy had shipped him out of the country.

US security chief resigns

US security chief resigns after Blackwater killingsfrom the ABC

The US State Department's security chief has resigned amid criticism over his office's poor supervision of private security firms in Iraq, after Blackwater guards shot dead several civilians in Baghdad.

A Department spokeswoman said Richard Griffin did not give a reason for quitting his post as assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but simply stated that he wanted to "move on to new challenges".

"He submitted his letter of resignation dated today," Julie Reside said, adding US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had accepted his resignation.

Dr Rice was asked about Mr Griffin's departure as she met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, but said only that she thanked him "very much for his exemplary service".

His resignation came a day after the release of an internal State Department report calling for much tighter control over private security firms following a series of deadly incidents in Iraq.

Blackwater

Albert07

Why has Australian media refused to discuss top selling US book -

"THE RISE OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL MERCENARY ARMY"  by JEREMY SCAHILL

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/20/1337226&mode=thread&tid=25

Immunity for the philistine philosphers...

Immunity Jeopardizes Iraq Probe
Guards' Statements Cannot Be Used in Blackwater Case

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; Page A01

Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation two weeks after the Sept. 16 shootings cannot use any information gleaned during questioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed by the FBI, citing promises of immunity from State, one law enforcement official said.

-------------------

Gus: dear Albert2007 (see comment above)... The Aussie media operatives — apart from a a few die-hard, mostly on the ABC and some at SBS — are often swimming in their own importance and the success of their owners on the world stage. Most scribes wait for the info to grow on trees, preferably on press-releases in springtime, just when they can drink a chardy under a bit o' shade... Discussing a book in depth is often "beneath their domain" or they would have to research their own info to "make an informed assessment" and bring their own pictures... That's hard work... Thus the next problem is the cost involved in making informed docos and articles on anything, including the rise of mercenaries — cost which not even the ABC can underwrite in its relatively shrinking budget for current affairs... The excellent Four Corners last night (29/10/07) was an example of what takes months to produce and some mighty swimming against the tide of disinformation.

The Walkley journal is full of stories and article in which Journos decry their wings being clipped, technically and resourcefully. Even the mighty CEO of News Limited, John Hartigan, is quite "furious' at the way freedom of the press is being thwarted by governments in Australia or even by privileged "commercial" information in the hand of manipulative multinationals. Mind you, here we see his boss, the very successful Mr Murdoch, pushing Bush's barrow on useless wars, thus if we get sumpthin' on mercenaries, it would be glorious and extolling the necessity of private armies for sale... Even the French Poet Rimbaud (late 1800s) — so against the useless violence of wars — became a "soldier of fortune" later on in life — selling weapons to the highest bidders — to "private" armies in Africa.

I can see only one programme on SBS tacking the mercenary rise full-on and it's Dateline, unless the BBC does it. But the BBC is about to loose many many staff... Dateline has a few dedicated producers and brilliant film-makers — such as David Brill who goes in the field on his own, shoots and produces at the same time... David Brill of course has been filming for a very long time, including during the Vietnam war, other dangerous conflict and in the sick throes of Africa... Not for the faint hearted, but for the dedicated compassionate person who wants to expose some of the inhumanities...

Yep, why has Australian media refused to discuss the top selling US book on mercenaries? Now, do the Aussie journos know the book exists? National interest directive?... Is the book too much anti-Bush? Your guess is as good as mine...

Meanwhile, the professional killers have "immunity"...

private army for hire...

Hired Guns

While the volunteer Army struggles, the business of war booms.

by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

The armed security contractor in Iraq makes an appearance on the collective American radar only when events get so ugly they won’t go away: the charred bodies of four Blackwater guards swinging from a Fallujah bridge in 2004, the 17 civilians reportedly killed by Blackwater men in a Baghdad square in September.

Mostly their presence—anywhere from 20,000- to 70,000-strong depending on who’s counting—moves on a battlefield that, in the words of the 1980s television series “Tales of the Darkside,” is “just as real, but not as brightly lit” as the news we see every night. They kill, bleed on the side of the road, and recover with stumps and prostheses, just not at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Richard Zbryski put the shadowy existence of the private parallel army in cold, hard perspective when he described how the body of his brother, Walter Zbryski, a 56-year-old retired New York City firefighter, was shipped home from his job as a contracted truck driver in Iraq. “What really upset me was that he was laying there floating in 6 inches of his own body fluids,” still wearing his bloodied clothes, with half of his head blown away, Zbryski told the Chicago Tribune.

The American Conservative 

---------------

Gus: see toon at top 

gun and cock happy...

Heat on Halliburton over 'gang rape'

December 20, 2007

Former Halliburton employee Jamie Leigh Jones says she was gang-raped.

A US woman who said she was raped by US contractors in Iraq testified in Congress today, telling legislators that she was kept under armed guard in her trailer after reporting the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 23, said that she was gang raped inside the Baghdad Green Zone in July 2005 while she was working for the Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc, which has support contracts with the US military.

-----------

see cartoon at top... 

very little or nothing is done.

“Victims of crime perpetrated by employees of taxpayer-funded government contracts in Iraq deserve the same standard of treatment and protection governed by the same laws whether they are working in the U.S. or abroad,” she said.

Since she spoke out publicly in December, other women have begun to step forward.

Ms. Jones and her lawyers said 38 women who worked as contractors in Iraq, Kuwait and other countries had contacted her since she testified to discuss their own experiences. Now, Congressional leaders are seeking answers from the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies to try to determine the scope of the threats facing women who are contractors.

Paul Brand, a Chicago psychologist who counsels contractors who have served in Iraq, said the harassment of female workers by male colleagues was common. “The extent of the harassment varies greatly from contractor to contractor, depending on how diligently they screen job candidates and management’s willingness to encourage women to report problems,” he said. “In many instances, very little or nothing is done.”

no more immunity for the philosophers....

Security firms lose immunity in Iraq deal

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Iraqi armed services are likely to target widely-hated American security contractors when they lose their immunity to Iraqi law under a new agreement between the US and the Iraq.

The main American concession, during prolonged and rancorous negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) that would determine the future military relationship between the US and Iraq, has been to agree to lift the immunity hitherto enjoyed by the 154,000 contractors, of whom 35,000 are private security men.

-------------

see toon at top 

the right to have the wrong ideas...

The freedom of historical debate is under attack by the memory police

Well-intentioned laws that prescribe how we remember terrible events are foolish, unworkable and counter-productive

...

A further law, passed in 2001, says the French Republic recognises slavery as a crime against humanity, and this must be given its "consequential place" in teaching and research. A group representing some overseas French citizens subsequently brought a case against the author of a study of the African slave trade, Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, on the charge of "denial of a crime against humanity". Meanwhile, yet another law was passed, from a very different point of view, prescribing that school curricula should recognise the "positive role" played by the French presence overseas, "especially in North Africa".

Fortunately, at this point a wave of indignation gave birth to a movement called Liberty for History (lph-asso.fr), led by the French historian Pierre Nora, which is also behind the Appel de Blois. The case against Pétré-Grenouilleau was dropped, and the "positive role" clause nullified. But it remains incredible that such a proposal ever made it to the statute book in one of the world's great democracies and homelands of historical scholarship.

This kind of nonsense is all the more dangerous when it comes wearing the mask of virtue. A perfect example is the recent attempt to enforce limits to the interpretation of history across the whole EU in the name of "combating racism and xenophobia". A proposed "framework decision" of the justice and home affairs council of the EU, initiated by the German justice minister Brigitte Zypries, suggests that in all EU member states "publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" should be "punishable by criminal penalties of a maximum of at least between one and three years imprisonment".

dying soldiering for bucks...

Soldier of Misfortune
Fighting a Parallel War in Iraq, Private Contractors Are Officially Invisible -- Even in Death

By Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, December 1, 2008; C01

Adapted from "Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq" (Da Capo Press, 2008)

As US Airways Flight 1860 eased into Gate 4 at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the pilot's voice came over the intercom: "Can I please have your attention? We are carrying with us tonight the remains of a fallen American in Iraq. Please remain seated for the movement of the remains and for the American escorts to deplane."

The cabin fell silent. No one moved as the two men seated in the first row rose to gather their belongings. They were the white-gloved master sergeant who had accompanied Jonathon Coté's body from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the American drug enforcement agent who, after a 16-month search, had recovered the headless corpse in southern Iraq.

The two men were led down to the tarmac, and the master sergeant climbed up into the belly of the plane. He draped an American flag over the silver casket and made sure that Coté's body was placed feet-first on the conveyor belt.

There was a light drizzle, the temperature at 40 degrees. A bitter wind blew off Lake Erie, snapping a half-dozen flags held by members of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, a biker group that supports the families of fallen Americans. Police flashers and a Buffalo TV crew's equipment threw light and shadows over the plane. From the ground you could see the passengers, still frozen in their seats in the lighted cabin, and the baggage handlers, waiting off to the side in fluorescent orange vests and knitted caps.

I stood with Jon's family beneath the wing, buffeted by the freezing wind. Five men and one woman from New York's 107th Air National Guard lifted the casket from the belt and slowly marched it across the tarmac to an idling hearse.

Anyone watching might have thought they were witnessing the somber homecoming of an American hero killed in Iraq. That was technically true: Jonathon Coté had fought in the U.S. Army. He was killed in Iraq.

a long history of psychiatric illness

A British military contractor accused of shooting dead two of his colleagues in Iraq was hired despite being sacked from another security firm and having a long history of psychiatric illness, The Independent has learnt.

Daniel Fitzsimons, 29, is in Iraqi custody facing charges of premeditated murder after the shooting of fellow ArmorGroup colleagues Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoar and wounding Iraqi worker Arkhan Mahdi. If convicted he faces execution.

Last night, in an interview with The Independent, his family revealed that just months before being hired by ArmorGroup, a psychiatric report had found Mr Fitzsimons was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress with repeated flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety attacks.

------------------------

The word "contractor" is too innocuous to define what are basically mercenaries, working as security officers or non-uniformed soldiers, for private and public enterprises. That this one was "suffering from severe post-traumatic stress with repeated flashbacks" is not unique in this kind of job...

see toon at top.

mafia to kill...

From Time magazine

The other shoe has dropped. CIA Director Leon Panetta, it turns out, ran up to Capitol Hill in June not simply to confess that the CIA had a secret assassination program it never implemented but rather to confess that it had subcontracted the job out. As first reported by the New York Times on its website on Aug. 19, the CIA hired Blackwater to help with a secret program to assassinate top al-Qaeda leaders. Although no one was assassinated before the program was ultimately shelved — and the Times reported that it's not clear that Blackwater was engaged to do anything more than assist with planning, training and surveillance — Panetta must have been horrified that the CIA turned to mercenaries to play a part in its dirty work. It's one thing, albeit often misguided, for the agency to outsource certain tasks to contractors. It's quite another to involve a company like Blackwater in even the planning and training of targeted killings, akin to the CIA going to the mafia to draw up a plan to kill Castro.

see toon at top...

contracting private wars...

U.S. Still Using Security Firm It Broke With

By MARK LANDLER and MARK MAZZETTI (NYT)

WASHINGTON — Despite publicly breaking with an American private security company in Iraq, the State Department continues to award the company, formerly known as Blackwater, more than $400 million in contracts to fly its diplomats around Iraq, guard them in Afghanistan, and train security forces in antiterrorism tactics at its remote camp in North Carolina.

The contracts, one of which runs until 2011, illustrate the extent to which the United States government remains reliant on private contractors like Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced zee) Services, to conduct some of its most sensitive operations and protect some of its most vital assets.

Disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency had used the company, which most people still call Blackwater, to help with a covert program to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda have touched off a storm in Washington, with lawmakers demanding to know why this kind of work is being outsourced. New details about Xe’s involvement in the covert program emerged Friday.

The C.I.A. and the State Department are both trying to reduce their dependence on outside contractors, but the administration is also struggling to deal with an overstretched military and spy service.

In the case of the C.I.A., outsiders still help carry out some of its most important jobs, including collecting intelligence in foreign countries, dealing with foreign agents, and taking part in covert programs.

The State Department continues to use Blackwater guards in Afghanistan, despite the company’s involvement in civilian shootings in Baghdad in 2007, and despite Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s pledge to “reduce our dependence on private security contractors.”

The department declined to discuss its ties with Blackwater publicly, but a senior department official said it would be costly for the government to terminate, without cause, the other contracts that are in place. A spokeswoman for Xe Services did not respond to messages requesting comment.

overpriced hamburgers...

U.S. Says Kuwait Company Overbilled It by Millions for Troops’ Food

By ROBBIE BROWN

ATLANTA — A Kuwaiti company defrauded the United States government of tens of millions of dollars by exaggerating the cost of providing food to troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan, federal prosecutors here said Monday.

The prosecutors charged the business, the Public Warehousing Company, with six counts of fraud, saying it had “grossly overcharged” the military. The prosecutors would not provide an exact dollar amount for what they thought was the total extent of the fraud, saying the investigation was continuing.

The company, which changed its name to Agility in 2006, has received $8.5 billion in contracts from the Department of Defense since 2003, and is one of the largest service providers to American troops in the Middle East.

F. Gentry Shelnutt, the acting United States attorney, said the charges were the result of an investigation over several years into contract abuses in the Middle East.

In a statement on Monday, the company said it was “confident that once these allegations are examined in court, they will be found to be without merit.”

The prices charged by the company “have been negotiated with, agreed to, and continually approved by the U.S. government,” the statement said.

“The government has consistently found PWC’s prices to be fair and reasonable,” the company said.

The Department of Defense has not announced whether it will allow future contracts with the company. A current contract runs until December 2010.

The company is charged with committing major fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government, making false statements, submitting false claims and wire fraud.

----------------------

see toon at top

brothers in clandestine ops...

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

By JAMES RISEN and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.

“It became a very brotherly relationship,” said one former top C.I.A. officer. “There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency.”

---------------------

Luvely. see toon at top and if you can be bothered peruse this one....

not brothers in clandestine ops...

From the BBC

In response to the New York Times article, a spokesman for Blackwater - now called Xe Services - said: "Blackwater USA was never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Operations personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.

"Any allegation to the contrary by any news organisation would be false."

----------------------------

Carefully check the words: "... was never under contract to participate...". Very good. Very clever... It does not mean they did or did not participate... It just means that they had "no contract" if or when they did... PR and advertising have few secrets beyond the nuances of phrasing, the qualification of the frames and the indirectness of the twists...

Sorry guys, you'll have to do better...

rejected evidence...

Iraq has criticised a US judge's dismissal of all charges against guards from US security firm Blackwater over the killing of 17 Iraqis in 2007.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said an Iraqi investigation showed the men had committed a "serious crime" and Baghdad would seek to prosecute them.

The five had all pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. A sixth guard admitted killing at least one Iraqi.

The judge dismissed the charges against the guards over procedural errors.

District Judge Ricardo Urbina said the US justice department had used evidence prosecutors were not supposed to have.

----------------------

"used evidence prosecutors were not supposed to have"???? see toon at top.

hole in solomon's trousers...

U.S. Lawyers Knew About Legal Pitfalls in Blackwater Case

By MATTHEW L. WALD

WASHINGTON — The sudden blow to the case against the former Blackwater security guards over a shooting that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded at least 20 may have come as a surprise to the public in Iraq and the United States, but the legal problem that the judge cited Thursday when he threw out the indictments was obvious to American government lawyers within days of the shooting.

The issue was that the guards, as government contractors, were obligated to give an immediate report of what they had done, but the Constitution prevents the government from requiring a defendant to testify against himself, so those statements could not be used in a prosecution.

Less than two weeks after the shootings in Nisour Square in Baghdad in September 2007, lawyers at the State Department, which employed the guards, expressed concern that prosecutors might be improperly using the compulsory reports in preparing a criminal case against them, according to the decision.

The prosecutors were also concerned, even using what they called a “taint team” to try to prevent information in the guards’ compulsory statements from influencing the investigation, according to the 90-page ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington. The judge said the prosecutors had failed to take “common sense precautions” to avoid the problem.

The ruling led to disappointment in the United States as well as in Iraq.

the wheel of justice...

from the BBC

The former president of the US private security firm, Blackwater Worldwide, and four other former workers have been indicted on federal weapons charges.

Gary Jackson, who resigned last year, denies conspiracy to violate firearms laws, making false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.

Also indicted were the former general counsel and executive vice-president.

The charges are partially the result of a raid in 2008 by federal agents who seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services in 2009, two years after its guards were involved in a shooting incident in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. They had been protecting US diplomats there.

Their actions outraged the Iraqi government and led to charges being filed in the US against several guards - accusations later thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors had mishandled evidence.

privateer spooks...

U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts

By MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Top military officials have continued to rely on a secret network of private spies who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to American officials and businessmen, despite concerns among some in the military about the legality of the operation.

Earlier this year, government officials admitted that the military had sent a group of former Central Intelligence Agency officers and retired Special Operations troops into the region to collect information — some of which was used to track and kill people suspected of being militants. Many portrayed it as a rogue operation that had been hastily shut down once an investigation began.

But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, and an examination of government documents, tell a different a story. Not only are the networks still operating, their detailed reports on subjects like the workings of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and the movements of enemy fighters in southern Afghanistan are also submitted almost daily to top commanders and have become an important source of intelligence.

The American military is largely prohibited from operating inside Pakistan. And under Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors for spying.

Military officials said that when Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the region, signed off on the operation in January 2009, there were prohibitions against intelligence gathering, including hiring agents to provide information about enemy positions in Pakistan. The contractors were supposed to provide only broad information about the political and tribal dynamics in the region, and information that could be used for “force protection,” they said.

Some Pentagon officials said that over time the operation appeared to morph into traditional spying activities. And they pointed out that the supervisor who set up the contractor network, Michael D. Furlong, was now under investigation.

But a review of the program by The New York Times found that Mr. Furlong’s operatives were still providing information using the same intelligence gathering methods as before. The contractors were still being paid under a $22 million contract, the review shows, managed by Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said that the program “remains under investigation by multiple offices within the Defense Department,” so it would be inappropriate to answer specific questions about who approved the operation or why it continues.

private goons for sale...

A private security company linked to an undercover war in Iraq is up for sale, with its owner saying he can no longer deal with the lawsuits, criminal investigations and bad publicity surrounding the firm.

The Blackwater security company has been linked to atrocities committed against Iraqi civilians.

But despite the criticism there is still a strong international demand for services offered by such companies, and Blackwater may yet survive under another guise.

The company was founded in the 1990s by fundamentalist Christian and former navy seal, Erik Prince.

Since then, the company says it has prepared tens of thousands of security personnel to work in hot-spots around the world.

In a promotional video released during the Iraq war, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill explained how the Bush administration benefited from private security companies.

"The deaths of Blackwater contractors and other war contractors are not included in the total death count, even though some 780 of them had been killed in Iraq," he said.

"Their injuries don't get calculated either; their crimes don't get punished.

---------

see toon at top...

more private security philosophers

CIA hires Xe, formerly Blackwater, to guard facilities in Afghanistan, elsewhere

By Jeff Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2010; A11

 

The CIA has hired Xe Services, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, to guard its facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to an industry source.

The previously undisclosed CIA contract is worth about $100 million, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deal, which is classified.

"It's for protective services . . . guard services, in multiple regions," the source said.

Two other security contractors, Triple Canopy and DynCorp International, put in losing bids for the CIA's business, the source said.

The revelation comes only a day after members of a federal commission investigating war-zone contractors blasted the State Department for granting Xe a new $120 million contract to guard U.S. consulates under construction in Afghanistan.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano stopped short of confirming the contract, saying only that Xe personnel would not be involved in operations.

"While this agency does not, as a rule, comment on contractual relationships we may or may not have, we follow all applicable federal laws and regulations," Gimigliano said.

The spokesman added: "We have a very careful process when it comes to procurement, and we take it seriously. We've also made it clear that personnel from Xe do not serve with the CIA in any operational roles."

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Erik Prince, chairman of the board at Xe and owner of Prince Group -- which owns Xe -- said the firm had no comment.

-------------

see toon at top

I shoot therefore I am...

US Army cadets have to face the moral conundrum of taking one life in order to save the lives of others. David Edmonds considers this dilemma with trainee soldiers studying philosophy at the West Point military academy in New York state.

...

In the classroom the new breed of philosopher soldiers are being taught Immanuel Kant, who thought that there were some things it was always wrong to do to other humans whatever the consequences, and without whom the modern conception of human rights is almost inconceivable.

The lecturer, Chris Case, explains Kant's insights about lying and hypocrisy, using the example of a preacher in the 1980s.

This being a military school, the language has several pots more salt than you would hear at a more traditional educational establishment.

"Remember, that hell-fire and brimstone guy," says Chris Case.

"Well, when nobody was looking he was in the bathtub with a hooker peeing on his head."

...

Kantian pholosophy digest:
  • People have a duty to do the right thing, even if it produces a bad result
  • People should always be treated as valuable - as an end in themselves - and should not just be used in order to achieve something else
  • It is wrong to tell a lie in order to save a friend from a murderer
------------------------------
Gus: now I remember why I never digged Kant... Kant shoots all over the place with good intentions and the interpretation of "the right thing" is fraught with pitfalls... Do we still do the "right thing " if we know that we'll get a bad result? The "right thing" for some is the wrong thing for others. For example Tony Blair though he had a "duty" to do the "right thing" about Iraq but he lied about it. And we disagree with him on the value of the "right thing". Hitler was doing the "right thing" as far as he was concerned.

Give a philosopher a gun? Blimey... Give philosophical ideas to a soldier? Blimey!...
Now, are those five people tied to the track good people or enemies? And is the person tied to the other track a "friend"? or is it just a question of numbers and what we think about trimming the world population? And do we know how to operate the rail track to make the tram change course without falling over and killing the 20 people inside? And by the time we solve this conumdrum, would it be too late to do anything like delaying action on climate change?
Gimme a break... see toon at top...

 

of private philosophers in war zones...

Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Collapse By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.

In the most recent and closely watched case, the Justice Department on Monday said that it would not seek murder charges against Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater armorer accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice president on Dec. 24, 2006. Justice officials said that they were abandoning the case after an investigation that began in early 2007, and included trips to Baghdad by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to interview Iraqi witnesses.

The government’s decision to drop the Moonen case follows a series of failures by prosecutors around the country in cases aimed at former personnel of Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services. In September, a Virginia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of two former Blackwater guards accused of killing two Afghan civilians. Late last year, charges were dismissed against five former Blackwater guards who had been indicted on manslaughter and related weapons charges in a September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square in Baghdad, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.

Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene.

“The battlefield,” said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, “is not a place that lends itself to the preservation of evidence.”

The difficulty of these cases also illustrates the tricky legal questions raised by the government’s increasing use of private contractors in war zones.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/world/21contractors.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

see toon at top...

trigger-happy philosophers....

Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq By JAMES GLANZ and ANDREW W. LEHREN

The first shots sailed past Iraqi police officers at a checkpoint. They took off in three squad cars, their lights flashing.

It was early in the Iraq war, Dec. 22, 2004, and it turned out that the shots came not from insurgents or criminals. They were fired by an American private security company named Custer Battles, according to an incident report in an archive of more than 300,000 classified military documents made public by WikiLeaks.

The company’s convoy sped south in Umm Qasr, a grubby port city near the Persian Gulf. It shot out the tire of a civilian car that came close. It fired five shots into a crowded minibus. The shooting stopped only after the Iraqi police, port security and a British military unit finally caught up with the convoy.

Somehow no one had been hurt, and the contractors found a quick way to prevent messy disciplinary action. They handed out cash to Iraqi civilians, and left.

The documents sketch, in vivid detail, a critical change in the way America wages war: the early days of the Iraq war, with all its Wild West chaos, ushered in the era of the private contractor, wearing no uniform but fighting and dying in battle, gathering and disseminating intelligence and killing presumed insurgents.

There have been many abuses, including civilian deaths, to the point that the Afghan government is working to ban many outside contractors entirely.

The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.

 

Contractors were necessary at the start of the Iraq war because there simply were not enough soldiers to do the job. In 2004, their presence became the symbol for Iraq’s descent into chaos, when four contractors were killed in Falluja, their bodies left mangled and charred.

Even now — with many contractors discredited for unjustified shootings and a lack of accountability amply described in the documents — the military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.

The archive, which describes many episodes never made public in such detail, shows the multitude of shortcomings with this new system: how a failure to coordinate among contractors, coalition forces and Iraqi troops, as well as a failure to enforce rules of engagement that bind the military, endangered civilians as well as the contractors themselves. The military was often outright hostile to contractors, for being amateurish, overpaid and, often, trigger-happy.

see toon at top...

training the philosophers in bangladesh...

The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement".

Details of the training were revealed in a number of cables, released by WikiLeaks, which address the counter-terrorism objectives of the US and UK governments in Bangladesh. One cable makes clear that the US would not offer any assistance other than human rights training to the RAB – and that it would be illegal under US law to do so – because its members commit gross human rights violations with impunity.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/21/wikileaks-cables-british-police-bangladesh-death-squad

hellish atrocities...

 

From Chris Floyd...

...

He added that the US commander who ordered this devastating use of firepower did not consider it significant enough to mention it in his daily report to the US general in command. Dr Busby says that while he cannot identify the type of armaments used by the Marines, the extent of genetic damage suffered by inhabitants suggests the use of uranium in some form. He said: "My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside."

As I noted then, the effects of these wonder-weapons were, to borrow Barack Obama's term for the Bush Regime's "surge" in Iraq, "an extraordinary achievement." From the Independent:

The study, entitled "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009", is by Dr Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, and concludes that anecdotal evidence of a sharp rise in cancer and congenital birth defects is correct. Infant mortality was found to be 80 per 1,000 births compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 9.7 in Kuwait. The report says that the types of cancer are "similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionising radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout".

Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia, but in Fallujah Dr Busby says what is striking is not only the greater prevalence of cancer but the speed with which it was affecting people.

A city whose birth defect rate is 11 times the world average. A city where children are suffering from cancers "similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors" -- indeed, where the increase in leukemia is far greater than among the first victims of American WMD. O where are our great American moralists, who rant and rage at the exposure of a nipple or the thought of gay sex? Why have they not seized on this terrible crime "against the children," this horrible, criminal overreach of "big government?" O where are our great American progressives, who stood so tall and proud against the American war machine when it was led by an embarrassing vulgarian, but now occupy themselves with handwringing and bead-counting about the political fortunes of his bloodstained predecessor, now perpetrating his own mini-Fallujahs week after week against defenseless villagers in Pakistan?

I'm going to finish by repeating my conclusion of the July 2010 piece. Hell, I might just repeat it every six months from now until kingdom come:

I have written about Fallujah over and over for a long time. In many respects, these stories are like the ones I've written about the American-abetted horrors in Somalia: no one gives a damn. Well, I don't give a damn that no gives a damn. I'm going to keep ringing this bell until my arm falls off. We -- Americans -- have committed and countenanced a great evil in Iraq. I can't change that -- and it's obvious that I cannot prevent the "continuity" of such hellish atrocities by the progressive Peace Laureate now in the White House, and by whatever similar blood-soaked poltroon comes to lead the never-ending Terror War for Loot and Power after him. But by god I will not let it be said that I stood by and failed to bear witness to this raging filth.

...

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2073-mondo-inferno-the-endless-echoes-of-americas-wmd-atrocity.html

see toon at top...

humanitarian sharp shooters...

Blackwater Founder Said to Back Mercenaries


By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT


WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the founder of the international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali troops, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to American and Western officials.

The disclosure comes as Mr. Prince sells off his interest in the company he built into a behemoth with billions of dollars in American government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, work that mired him in lawsuits and investigations amid reports of reckless behavior by his operatives, including causing the deaths of civilians in Iraq. His efforts to wade into the chaos of Somalia appear to be Mr. Prince’s latest endeavor to remain at the center of a campaign against Islamic radicalism in some of the world’s most war-ravaged corners. Mr. Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates late last year.

With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. The Somali government has been cornered in a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.

This, along with the growing menace of piracy off Somalia’s shores, has created an opportunity for private security companies like the South African firm Saracen International to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war. It is another illustration of how private security firms are playing a bigger role in wars around the world, with some governments seeing them as a way to supplement overtaxed armies, while others complain that they are unaccountable.

Mr. Prince’s precise role remains unclear. Some Western officials said that it was possible Mr. Prince was using his international contacts to help broker a deal between Saracen executives and officials from the United Arab Emirates, which have been financing Saracen in Somalia because Emirates business operations have been threatened by Somali pirates.

According to a report by the African Union, an organization of African states, Mr. Prince provided initial financing for a project by Saracen to win contracts with Somalia’s embattled government.

A spokesman for Mr. Prince challenged this report, saying that Mr. Prince had “no financial role of any kind in this matter,” and that he was primarily involved in humanitarian efforts and fighting pirates in Somalia.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/world/africa/21intel.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

see toon at top...

shoot first, ask no question later...

Thousands of field reports filed by private security contractors operating in Iraq have been made available to the public for the first time.

The documents reveal details of nearly 200 shootings by contractors working in the country for companies hired by the US government between 2007 and 2009.

Private security guards working in Iraq are required to file a report every time they discharge their weapon. These are sent to the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for overseeing the private security firms hired by the US.

More than 4,000 pages of these reports were published yesterday by US news website Gawker, which obtained the information legally through a freedom of information request it filed in 2007.

Contractors from Blackwater, one of the first private security firms to work in Iraq after the US-led takeover, feature heavily in the reports. The firm has faced heavy criticism for its role in a number of shootings, most notably the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians after Blackwater guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, Baghdad, while escorting an American diplomatic envoy.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/security-firms-involved-in-200-shootings-in-iraq-6276688.html

befriending the locals...

 

The U.S. Secret Service on Saturday placed 11 agents on administrative leave as the agency investigates allegations that the men brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, on Wednesday night and that a dispute ensued with one of the women over payment the following morning.

Secret Service Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey said the agents had violated the service’s “zero-tolerance policy on personal misconduct” during their trip to prepare for President Obama’s arrival at an international summit this weekend.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/secret-service-scandal-and-alleged-prostitution-inquiry-began-with-night-of-partying/2012/04/14/gIQAytztHT_story.html?hpid=z1

Not a good look... see toon at top...

 

an environment full of liability and negligence...

 

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/us/before-shooting-in-iraq-warning-on-blackwater.html

 

See toon at top...

 

no remorse...

Four former Blackwater security guards have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms by a US federal judge over the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqis.

The sentences closed a chapter of the US war in Iraq that strained relations between the two countries.

Nicholas Slatten was sentenced to life in prison for his murder conviction in the killings at a Baghdad traffic circle.

Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced three other former Blackwater guards, convicted of manslaughter in the killings, to 30 years each.

In final statements, all four defendants protested their innocence and asked for leniency.

Slatten asked for the verdict against him to be overturned.

Before the killings, Slatten allegedly told acquaintances he wanted to "kill as many Iraqis as he could as 'payback for 9/11'," according to court documents.

The sentences were handed down after a day-long hearing, when the defence lawyers unsuccessfully argued for leniency.

The prosecutors, on the other hand, argued for harsher sentences because the guards had never expressed any remorse.

read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/blackwater-guard-get-lengthy-jail-terms-over-iraq-killings/6390580

creating business opportunities...

 

Private security is a huge growth industry that goes hand in hand with the Western strategy of creating failed states which can’t ensure the safety of their people, says writer Dan Glazebrook.

The US Court of Appeals on Friday ordered the retrial of Nicholas Slatten, a Blackwater security guard charged and convicted of being involved in a massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in September 2007 resulting in the death of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians.

"The Court concludes that the district court abused its discretion in denying Slatten’s motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants and therefore vacates his conviction and remands for a new trial," the US Court of Appealsstated.

The court also ordered the re-sentencing of three operatives from the private US security contractor formerly known as Blackwater, indicating that the sentences of 30 years were too harsh.

Political analyst Dan Glazebrook says the court's decision only means there will be a retrial and the accused are not acquitted, but it might be “part of a broader move by the West, and especially in Britain and the US, to make it absolutely clear to the rest of the world that they have impunity."

Glazebrook said there had been similar rulings by British courts, including the High Court blocking a bid by an Iraqi general to bring a private prosecution against former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the war he launched in Iraq.

 

The International Criminal Court consistently refused to touch anyone from Europe or North America for their crimes. And we’ve also seen the collapse of trials against British Army soldiers, similar to the recent case in the US, and the overturning of sentences and convictions of British soldiers for war crimes. I think this is really the kind of a broad trajectory of showing to the world that British, US forces have impunity and that extends to their mercenaries as well,” Glazebrook said.

The analyst recalled that in 2011 the then Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki refused to sign a deal that would grant US troops and mercenaries immunity.

“That was a big cause of friction between the US and Iraq at the time. There had been scandals of private contractors in Afghanistan running private torture dungeons,” he told RT.

According to Glazebrook, private security “is a huge growth industry.”

“In an era of overproduction and ongoing stagnation and recession and so on, it is really important to see that what the West is doing is creating one failed state after another. And that is creating new markets for private security. Because it is creating a situation in which you are destroying states that could provide security for people, and you are basically saying anyone with the money is going to have to pay private security firms to deliver these services. This is really a growth industry that’s led by Britain, the US, and Israel… and it goes hand in hand with the Western strategy of creating failed states which create the markets for this,” he said.

 

 

read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/398982-blackwater-private-security-iraq/

 

Read from top...