Failure and incompetence MUST be rewarded..

(Title written with a high degree of sarcasm..)

After Blackwater Controversy, State Dep’t Gave Bonuses to Contracting Officials By Spencer Ackerman
via: TPM Muckraker

According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State’s relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

Read entire article..

Normally when something like what has been happening with Blackwater in Iraq happens, someone is held accountable and loses their job.
Well, at least the WH and the State Department are consistent. Someone screws up, things go horribly wrong, well, someone gets a promotion!

Black is white, up is down… War is peace..

Perhaps these people are being rewarded because things AREN’T going wrong; perhaps things are going exactly according to plan…

UN to probe U.S.-contracted mercenaries for War Crimes?

via: Reuters

The United Nations wants probes to determine whether private security contractors in Iraq have committed war crimes and for governments to ensure that the rule of law is applied, U.N. officials said on Thursday.

The killing of 17 Iraqis in a shooting involving U.S. security firm Blackwater last month has created tensions between Baghdad and Washington and sparked calls for tighter controls on private contractors, who are immune from prosecution in Iraq.

Ivana Vuco, the U.N.’s senior human rights officer in Iraq, told a news conference that private security contractors were still subject to international humanitarian law.

“Investigations as to whether or not crimes against humanity, war crimes, are being committed and obviously the consequences of that is something that we will be paying attention to and advocating for,” she told a news conference.

Continue to read…

It would be a good start..

This just in..

via: APNews

Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm’s guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.

The demands – part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press – also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

Read the rest..

Wow, I wonder how this will go over in Washington..? Well, as far as Blackwater goes, $136 million should be a drop in the bucket given the money they have made hand over fist in Iraq…

As far as accountability of the involved Blackwater security agents in Iraqi courts?.. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Small army for hire?

For the right price, you TOO can have your own private army! Blackwater, this fast growing private military company, is expanding their facilities:

Blackwater executives say they plan to soon open a branch facility in southern California and a jungle survival skills training center on the site of the former Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines.

Both projects will be smaller versions of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre compound in Camden and Currituck counties, where thousands of military and law enforcement personnel come each year for training. The company says it is the largest tactical training facility in the United States, if not the world.

The people of Southern California are none too happy to have a massive Blackwater training facility there. And who can blame them…
Continue reading

Order 17

Red, white and mercenary in Iraq
by Sidney Blumenthal
via: Salon

On June 27, 2004, the day before the United States was to grant sovereignty to a new Iraqi government and disband the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. proconsul, issued a stunning new order. One of the final acts of the CPA, Order 17 declared that foreign contractors within Iraq, including private military firms, would not be subject to any Iraqi laws — “all International Consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process,” it read. “Congratulations to the new Iraq!” Bremer said moments before flying out. His memoir, “My Year in Iraq,” neglects to mention Order 17.

Read the rest of the article.

The State Dept.’s Murderous Guardians

via: Truthdig
By Robert Scheer

How did it come to be that the ostensibly best-educated and most refined representatives of the United States in Iraq are guarded by gun-toting mercenaries who kill innocent civilians? More urgently, why did State Department employees and their bosses in Washington tolerate—and pay to conceal—the wanton murder conducted on their watch?

That’s the real scandal of the more than $832 million the U.S. State Department paid Blackwater, investigated this week by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, headed by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

For the rest of the article.

There are a couple of really good sources who followed the hearings on Blackwater yesterday. One is TPMMuckraker (with lots of videos of testimony), and the Washington Post. In the New York Times today there was an article with firsthand accounts of the recent shootings involving Blackwater which left 17 dead and 24 wounded. (Need to be subscribed online).

How We Got Into the Blackwater Mess in the First Place

via: Taylor Marsh

P.W. Singer of the Brookings Institute has compiled a study (pdf), Can’t Win With ‘Em, Can’t Go To War Without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency that unloads the problem. There are more than 160,000 guns for hire in Iraq right now. Bush obviously never understood what was happening right under his very nose. That’s why Republicans picked him as their vessel a long time ago.

Video by TPM
Is it any wonder we are where we are?? Is this guy the President? Or is he trying to do standup? (Midway, is he slurring..?)

“It may be worse than Abu Ghraib.”

via TPMmuckraker

According to The Washington Post:

In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department’s authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions. “The military is very sensitive to its relationship that they’ve built with the Iraqis being altered or even severely degraded by actions such as this event,” the official said.

“This is a nightmare,” said a senior U.S. military official. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we’re trying to have an impact for the long term.” The official was referring to the prison scandal that emerged in 2004 in which U.S. soldiers tortured and abused Iraqis.

In last week’s incident, Blackwater guards shot into a crush of cars, killing at least 11 Iraqis and wounding 12. Blackwater officials insist their guards were ambushed, but witnesses have described the shooting as unprovoked. Iraq’s Interior Ministry has concluded that Blackwater was at fault.
(Source)

Blackwater, Oil and the Colonial Enterprise

via: Commondreams.org
by John Nichols of The Nation

Blackwater USA’s mercenary mission in Iraq is very much in the news this week, and rightly so. The private military contractor’s war-for-profit program, which has been so brilliantly exposed by Jeremy Scahill, may finally get a measure of the official scrutiny it merits as the corporation scrambles to undo the revocation by the Iraqi government of its license to operate in that country. There will be official inquiries in Baghdad, and in Washington. The U.S. Congress might actually provide some of the oversight that is its responsibility. Perhaps, and this is a big “perhaps,” Blackwater’s “troops” could come home before the U.S. soldiers who have been forced to fight, and die, in defense of these international rent-a-cops.

But it is not the specific story of Blackwater that matters so much as the broader story of imperial excess that it illustrates.
Continue reading

So Much for Sovereignty

U.S. returns sovereignty to Iraq

Monday, June 28, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Iraq’s interim government was sworn in Monday after the United States returned sovereignty to the nation two days ahead of schedule.

That was then, this is now:

US resumes Blackwater convoys in Iraq

Fri Sep 21, 3:23 PM ET

BAGHDAD – American convoys under the protection of Blackwater USA resumed on Friday, four days after the U.S. Embassy suspended all land travel by its diplomats and other civilian officials in response to the alleged killing of civilians by the security firm. …

A top aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had earlier conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to follow through on threats to expel Blackwater and other Western security contractors.

So, a sovereign government cannot remove foreign mercenaries from its soil. I’m sure this will go over well with the rest of the Muslim world…NOT.

Remember, these mercenaries cannot be prosecuted under Iraqi law. Nor can they be prosecuted under US law, thanks to the Military Commissions Act of 2006. They are beyond the law, both criminal and civil, until and unless the International Community moves forward with War Crimes Tribunals. It will likely take a decade or more for the International Community to progress to that point, if past history is any measure.

In one of the greatest ironies of world history, it turns out that Bush v. Gore has become Bush = Gore.

Bush’s Shadow Army

via: The Nation

Jeremy Scahill reports on the Bush Administration’s growing dependence on private security forces such as Blackwater USA and efforts in Congress to rein them in. This article is adapted from his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books).
(Read the article here.)

Also by Jeremy Scahill:

Blackwater: Hired Guns, Above the Law
(This is an edited transcript of the prepared testimony of Jeremy Scahill before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, September 21, 2007.)

Privatizing Murder

via: Truthdig
by Marie Cocco of the Washington Post

There is no set piece more emblematic of the tragic farce that is the American involvement in Iraq than the grotesque episode of Blackwater USA and the killing of civilians in Baghdad-at least nine and as many as 28-on Sunday.

Everyone has reacted on cue with the usual expressions of outrage or, at minimum, grave diplomatic concern over the fusillade of gunfire that was unleashed against Iraqis who apparently were bystanders to the passing of an American convoy that was being escorted by heavily armed Blackwater security guards.

The Iraqi government said it was pulling the private security firm’s license to operate in the country, and has asked that its contract be severed. But it seems there may not be a license, or if there was, it would have been granted by that wonderment of bureaucratic dysfunction and sectarian passion, the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, says it hasn’t been informed that Iraq has “lifted, suspended or terminated” any permit.

(To continue reading…)

Blackwater Well-Positioned to Stymie Official Inquiries, Regulation

Blackwater

via: TPMmuckraker
by Spencer Ackerman

Blackwater doesn’t just operate in a legal black hole in Iraq. The private-security firm has grown expert in protecting itself from oversight and regulation in Washington as well.

Over at POGO, Nick Schwellenbach connects Blackwater to House oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman’s investigation of Howard Krongard, the State Department inspector general whom Waxman alleges stifled numerous corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of those probes involved an alleged Blackwater scheme to funnel weapons into Iraq, and, Schwellenbach notes, it wouldn’t be so difficult for Blackwater to know how to get around an IG probe. Its parent company, the Prince Group, recently hired the Pentagon’s ex-IG, Joseph Schmitz.

Indeed, all throughout Blackwater are ways to get around government oversight: Cofer Black, the company’s vice chairman, used to work at the CIA with A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, formerly CIA’s executive director. And, yes, you read that last name correctly: Krongard of CIA is the brother of the current State Department IG. Think Schmitz or Black knew which numbers to call in the event of a State inquiry into the company?
(Continue reading his article… it gets worse…)

How do we as Americans put a stop to this??

(Photo used with permission – by octal)

Checkbook Imperialism: The Blackwater Fiasco

via Truthdig
By Robert Scheer

Please, please, I tell myself, leave Orwell out of it. Find some other, fresher way to explain why “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is dependent upon killer mercenaries. Or why the “democratically elected government” of “liberated” Iraq does not explicitly have the legal power to expel Blackwater USA from its land or hold any of the 50,000 private contractor troops that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq accountable for their deadly actions.

Were there even the faintest trace of Iraqi independence rising from the ashes of this failed American imperialist venture, Blackwater would have to fold its tents and go, if only in the interest of keeping up appearances. After all, the Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed that the Blackwater thugs guarding a U.S. State Department convoy through the streets of Baghdad fired “randomly at citizens” in a crowded square on Sunday, killing 11 people and wounding 13 others. So the Iraqi government has ordered Blackwater to leave the country after what a government spokesman called a “flagrant assault … on Iraqi citizens.”
(Continue reading the article…)

I always appreciate anything Robert Scheer writes about, but this was excellent.