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Forget the coalition of the willing, it’s the coalition of the billing; Blackwater mercenaries earned $US500 million in US government contracts

Posted by gasweek on 25 September, 2007

According to witness Hassan Jabit, the Blackwater guards – stuck in a traffic their black-tinted 4WDs betraying their high-value human cargo – panicked and opened fire. “After 20 minutes, the Americans told us to turn back,” the Iraqi lawyer told Associated Press from his Baghdad hospital bed on Thursday. “They shouted ‘go, go, go’ … When we started turning back, the Americans be­gan shooting heavily at us.” Bedlam ensued, says Jabir, who was hit by two bullets, one piercing his left lung, the other lodging in his intestines. “I saw a 10-year-old boy jump in fear from one of the minibuses. He was shot in his head. His mother jumped after him and was also killed, reported The Sydney Morning Herald, (22/9/2007, p. 31).

US mates operate outside the law: What infuriates Iraqis – and increasing worries US lawmakers – is that the soldiers of fortune who work for the likes of Blackwater seem to operate outside the law.

Immunity from prosecution: The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority Paul Bremer, President George Bush’s pro-consul in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, was guarded by Blackwater. He granted immunity from pros­ecution to security contractors. The edict, known as Order 17, may or may not have lapsed since the Iraqi Government was formed, but only two indictments of abuse have been issued and none of them resolved.

What’s wrong with this picture: About 30 to 40 per cent of the $US500 bil­lion ($580 billion) spent in Iraq and Afghanistan has been handed to private enterprise. Forget the coalition of the willing, it’s the coalition of the billing. Blackwater is one of more than 100 private security firms in Iraq, but has become a totemic symbol of all that is wrong with privatisation of the Iraq war.

Blackwater “criminals.. thirst for blood”I swear to God that they were not ex­posed to any fire,” Jabir says of the Black-water guards. “They are criminals and thirst for blood.” While 11 Iraqi civilians were reportedly killed, Blackwater insisted its guards came under attack from insurgents and were acting in self defence.

Ex US military personnel;Founded by a former Navy SEAL and scion of a wealthy Republican family, Erik Prince, it has secured $US500 million in US govern­ment contracts since the war on was unleashed. As well as providing security for the US Department of State, it also pro­tects the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus – an extraordinary task that reflects both the inability of the US to put enough troops on the ground in Iraq and the close links between Blackwater and the US security establishment.

Proxy for USA, but outside the law: Most of Blackwater’s 1500 operatives in Iraq are former US military personnel, while its vice-chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of the State Department’s counter­terrorism division. Black joined Blackwater in 2005, a year after four Blackwater employees were found hanged in the streets of Fallujah, their bodies dismembered by a bloodthirsty mob.

Assault on Fallujah followed Blackwater deaths: The hanging incident led to the assault on Fallujah by the US military a brutal operation aimed lit suppressing the restive population that ended with the deaths of 27 marines and hundreds of Iraqi civilians.

General revulsion against US methods: It lead to wide-spread revulsion of the US occupying force by the wider Iraqi population.

Blackwater’s gross behaviour condoned: One security contractor in Iraq, who asked not to be identified, says he is aware of an incident about a year ago where Blackwater staff were protecting a client who worked at a Baghdad hospital. While they waited, a nearby Iraqi checkpoint was hit by a roadside bomb. As the ambulances rushed to the hospital and the designated drop-off point, the Blackwater guards opened fire, killing more police and ambulance staff. Blackwater had “been doing this kind of thing for years”, says the contrac­tor, who remains in Iraq.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22/9/2007, p. 31

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