Monday, October 08, 2007


Blackwater... Your Tax Dollars at Work. Bush's Hessian Mercs Continue to Win Hearts and Minds.

Blackwater founder and Bush crony Erik Prince testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, discussing reports that his company recently took part in the unprovoked massacre of Iraqi civilians. "Based on everything we currently know, the Blackwater team acted appropriately while operating in a very complex war zone on Sept. 16," he said. "There has been a rush to judgment."

Sure there has. After all, if you read the State Department's initial report of the incident, you'll discover that in fact Blackwater "responded properly to an insurgent attack on a convoy." And so what if a Blackwater contractor wrote that report on U.S. embassy letterhead? Clearly there has been a rush to judgement.

A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, mind you, discovered that "Blackwater's contractors fired their weapons 195 times -- or an average of 1.4 times a week -- from the beginning of 2005 through the second week of September," and, "In over 80 percent of the cases, Blackwater reports that its forces fired first." But surely this is just a rush to judgement.

Meanwhile, it was reported last week that a Blackwater plane's cockpit voice recorder, recovered from a mountain canyon in Afghanistan in 2004, captured the joyriding pilot remarking that "I swear to God, they wouldn't pay me if they knew how much fun this was." The pilot then lost control and crashed into the canyon killing himself, two other crew members, and three U.S. troops.

And a former U.S. official who spent two years in Baghdad wrote an editorial in the Los Angeles Times last week, noting that:

One particularly infuriating time, I was in the town of Irbil in northern Iraq, being driven to a meeting with a Kurdish political leader. We were on a narrow stretch of highway with no shoulders and foot-high barriers on both sides. The lead Suburban in our convoy loomed up behind an old, puttering sedan driven by an older man with a young woman and three children.

As we approached at typical breakneck speed, the Blackwater driver honked furiously and motioned to the side, as if they should pull over. The kids in the back seat looked back in horror, mouths agape at the sight of the heavily armored Suburbans driven by large, armed men in dark sunglasses. The poor Iraqi driver frantically searched for a means of escape, but there was none. So the lead Blackwater vehicle smashed heedlessly into the car, pushing it into the barrier. We zoomed by too quickly to notice if anyone was hurt.

Also, Rep. Henry Waxman wondered last week why a Blackwater guard who got drunk and shot one of the Iraqi vice president's bodyguards in December 2006 was back working for a Pentagon contractor in February 2007. That is curious.

But pay no attention to the facts - surely all this bad news about Blackwater is just a rush to judgement. And if you don't believe me, then you'd better pay attention to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Obviously) who argued last week that an attack on this company of lawless mercenaries is an attack on - *sniff* - General Petraeus.

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And it doesn't stop with Blackwater. The Pentagon has pumped millions of dollars into the hands of mercenaries and sent them into Iraq without any supervision or accountability. And we're surprised when they screw up?
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