[News] Blackwater in Iraq: Killing for Profit

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 11 13:56:54 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/landau10112007.html

October 11, 2007


Blackwater in Iraq


Killing for Profit

By SAUL LANDAU

The words "Support Our Troops" stain the rear bumpers of thousands of 
cars. The slogan, however, conceals a more pernicious demand: 
"Support Our Mercenaries." Yes, in Iraq, the 
mercenaries--euphemistically called "paid contractors"--outnumber US 
troops, 180,000 to 160,000. These contractors do more than provide 
armed security for US personnel. They do chores that previously 
belonged to regular army staff.

Private security companies employ for high pay former US soldiers, 
ex-kidnappers and torturers from Pinochet's secret police, death 
squad heavies from a variety of Central and South American countries 
and a few leftover South African apartheid thugs as well. The 
companies collect billions from US taxpayers. A typical U.S. soldier 
serving in Iraq makes about: $57 a day. The estimated daily take for 
a Blackwater security guard there runs between $500- $600. (FACING 
SOUTH A News and Politics Report Sept. 26, 2007)

Imagine a scene in the corporate boardroom of Whitepiss Security 
Inc., a typical contractor with the Pentagon located in Upper South 
Carolina. The Chief executive, a former Special Forces veteran who 
was friends with Timothy McVey, and a diehard supporter of the 
Confederacy cause, refuses to use the word "North." This descendent 
of the slave holding Col. Beauregard Fathorn gleefully counts his 
profits derived from providing "security" in Iraq. Then he shares his 
thoughts with fellow executives: "The Eyerack War," he says, "has 
become the most beautiful thing that has happened to this country 
since the glorious attack at Fort Sumter. It has awakened us from the 
sloth of peace and prosperity brought about by the treasonous Clinton 
Administration."

In 1997, a former Navy Seal from a rich family figured out how to 
sell violence and enhance his wealth. Blackwater on its webpage 
disguises both its greed and its murderous intent by referring to 
"understanding of the need for innovative, flexible training and 
operational solutions to support security and peace, and freedom and 
democracy everywhere." CEO and founder Eric Prince believed "the 
military and law enforcement establishments would require additional 
capacity to train fully our brave men and women in and out of uniform 
to the standards required to keep our country secure."

The Website advertises "not simply a 'private security company.' "We 
are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, 
and stability operations firm who provides turnkey solutions. We 
assist with the development of national and global security policies 
and military transformation plans. We can train, equip and deploy 
public safety and military professionals, build live-fire 
indoor/outdoor ranges, MOUT facilities and shoot houses, create 
ground and aviation operations and logistics support packages, 
develop and execute canine solutions for patrol and explosive 
detection, and can design and build facilities both domestically and 
in austere environments abroad." One could easily read this as an 
appeal to Congress to direct the entire military budget away from the 
Pentagon and toward Blackwater? Indeed, Prince has donated $200,000 
to the Republican Party. (FACING SOUTH)

Coincidentally, Blackwater ranks first among 140 private security 
contractors in Iraq. And its employees have killed more Iraqis than 
its rivals. (NY Times September 27) The estimated worth of its 
contracts there runs about $300 million. Why not? Blackwater 
advertises itself as "the most responsive, cost-effective means of 
affecting the strategic balance in support of security and peace, and 
freedom and democracy everywhere." Indeed, mercenaries have become 
"the fastest-growing industry in the global economy." The Independent 
quotes Peter Singer, a security analyst with the Brookings 
Institution in Washington, who calculated that "security contractors" 
make more than $120 billion annually. They have operations in at 
least 50 countries. "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."
The Los Angeles Times estimated the number of employees belonging to 
US military contractors in Iraq at 182,000, 22,000 more than the 
160,000 US troops there. 21,000 are US citizens. As of July 1, more 
than 1000 of these "contractors had died; almost 12,000 were wounded. 
(Reuters July 4, 2007)

Scrutiny for this privatized violence came about because of the 
September 16 killings of Iraqi civilians carried out by Blackwater 
Security employees in Baghdad. Even the US puppet government 
responded in anger to the slaying and wounding of what they claim are 
as many as 28 civilians--including small children. Heavily armed 
Blackwater guards fired from armored cars and then called in 
Blackwater helicopters to blast the residents with more firepower 
from the air. Iraqi investigators claim they have a videotape that 
shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against the civilians without 
provocation, claimed a senior Iraqi official. (AP September 22, 2007)

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki responded to the public outcry by 
demanding that Blackwater and its 1,000 plus armed private army 
leave. He declared the Blackwater thugs' behavior "a flagrant 
assault" and a crime that outraged the Iraqi people. He then "banned" 
Blackwater from Iraq.

Less than three days later, however, Maliki's puppet masters in 
Washington notified him that they would not allow him to expel 
Blackwater, whose absence would leave "a security vacuum" in Baghdad. 
"If we drive out or expel this company immediately there will be a 
security vacuum that will demand pulling some troops that work in the 
field so that we can protect these institutes," Iraqi government 
spokesman Tahseen al-Sheikhly obediently informed a press conference. (Reuters)

To cover up the issue of "sovereignty," however, Washington agreed to 
"investigate allegations" that Blackwater thugs had shot down Iraqi 
civilians in cold blood. In the meantime, Blackwater heavies returned 
to their "guard" duties protecting US officials.

Iraqis have learned that the US private forces act with impunity. Not 
one of the approximately 48,000 private military thugs in Iraq has 
been convicted of a crime. A 2004 edict by proconsul Jerry Bremer 
removed these "contractors" from Iraqi court jurisdiction. Neither 
the Iraqi nor the US government has kept formal records about how 
many Iraqis have died or been wounded by Blackwater gunslingers and 
their fellow "security" guards.

The Independent quoted a high-ranking US military commander: "These 
guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no 
authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they 
escalate force. They shoot people." (Independent Sept. 21, 2007)

The mass media downplayed the fact that Abu Ghraib translators and as 
many as half of its interrogators came from this private war sector. 
Nor did they widely report that "contractors" pay far better wages 
than the Pentagon offers to US troops; so it should be surprising to 
find "hired soldiers" training and doing war-gaming -- before the 
Iraq invasion. Private contractors built Camp Doha in Kuwait, which 
Bush used as his launch-pad for the 2003 invasion.

Without Blackwater and the other 179 "private contractors" who "help" 
the US military by providing "logistical support" and "security 
services," the President might have to call for 160,000 more troops 
for Iraq. That would mean he'd have to demand a draft.

But not to worry! Modern Republicans masquerading as conservatives 
stand for privatizing everything -- even military activities. When 
Darth Vader served as Defense Secretary under Bush the First he began 
the "efficiency" move to cut troops and increase private contractor 
roles for military operations. Indeed, Cheney displayed an almost 
genetic weakness for using private rather than public enterprise, 
especially as profit-making killers. Coincidentally, Halliburton, 
which Cheney moved on to lead as CEO, became a major recipient of 
such contracts. Clinton continued this Republican, rational approach 
to war in the former Yugoslavia. (See Jeremy Scahill's, Blackwater: 
the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army)

Democrats might begin to use imagination as well, a better use of 
their body functions than hand wringing, and expose the mercenary 
quality of Bush's war. By laying out the mercenaries' bloody record 
in Iraq and then presenting the tens of billons the taxpayers shell 
out to these murderers, the Democrats could demand a real cut in the 
military budget. Just lop off the amount spent on "contractors." Hey, 
they could still claim they support the troops and accuse the 
Republicans of supporting the mercenaries!

Saul Landau writes a regular column for CounterPunch and 
progresoweekly.com. His new Counterpunch Press book is 
<http://www.easycartsecure.com/CounterPunch/CounterPunch_Books.html>A 
BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD. His new film, WE DON'T PLAY GOLF HERE (on 
globalization in Mexico) won the VIDEOFEST 2007 Award for best 
activist video. The event was held in October at the Roxie Theater. 
The film is available through 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/mailito:/roundworldproductions@gmail.com>roundworldproductions at gmail.com




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