Why should the US troops have all the fun? Let’s bring civilian contractors into the fray.
Twice this week employees of Blackwater USA, a private "security firm" based in Moyock, NC holding over $100 million defense contracts, we involved in confrontations in Baghdad. From Washington Post:
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.
I remember when we weren’t afraid to call these "security contractors" by their real name: Mercenaries. But in these post-politically-correct times of argument framing, a spade is no longer a spade, it’s a "landscape facilitator" (or something.) So a Mercenary soldier is now a "security consultant." Pfeh!
Is this how "the Surge(tm)" is implemented? This carefully planned war that the White House insisted didn’t need as many troops as Central Command suggested, which has redefined the word quagmire, has lasted longer than a Hollywood marriage. Early on, it was assumed that only 5,000 troops would be stationed there by December 2006. Now we’ve got "civilian contractors" playing along.
Blackwater’s security consulting division holds at least $109 million worth of State Department contracts in Iraq, and its employees operate in a perilous environment that sometimes requires the use of deadly force. 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.
But quagmires are supposed to be murky, right? I guess the Iraqis have showed us Yanks how to use lawlessness to great advantage. What legal status has a corporate mercenary? How can someone be held accountable for war crimes if that is his job description?
Mohammed Mahdi, 37, an employee at a veterinary drugstore, said the combined American forces unleashed a fury of gunfire near the Amanat, the municipal headquarters located in the heart of downtown Baghdad. Before taking cover in his store, Mahdi said, he saw two people killed and one wounded near the city’s legal registry.
A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blackwater contractors "did their job," enabling the State Department employees to be extracted without injuries. The U.S. military said no American soldiers were killed or wounded during the attack.
Mahdi said that the battle lasted for nearly an hour and that when he emerged he saw four mini-buses, a taxi and an Opel sedan containing dead and wounded. He said that he saw "at least four or five" people "who were certainly dead" but that he did not know how the people were killed, who killed them or whether they were civilians or combatants.
It gets really opaque when we toss in corporate official-speak rhetoric:
[Matthew Degn, a senior American civilian adviser to the Interior Ministry’s intelligence directorate,] 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."
"Cordial relationship?" So says a "senior civilian advisor". Are we framing again?
Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, said the company did not discuss specific incidents. In a statement via e-mail, she wrote: "Blackwater investigates any reports of hostile action in Iraq. Per the terms of our US Government contracts, as a matter of routine, Blackwater is required to file after action reports on any such incidents."
That should take care of that. An "incident report" to the US government is just the thing to appease the families of the dead and wounded. Make no mistake about the realities on the ground in Iraq: war is big business and war profiteering is just another aspect of the American economy.
Doesn’t that make you feel proud?