Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Black water keeps rollin' on past just the same

When doing a Wikipedia search for 'black water', a couple of things come up:
Blackwater USA is a private military company and security firm founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. It is based in the U.S. state of North Carolina where it operates a tactical training facility which it claims is the world's largest. The company trains more than 40,000 people a year, from all the military services and a variety of other agencies. […] At least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts.
Blackwater (waste) is a relatively recent term used to describe water containing fecal matter. It and urine is also known as brown water, foul water, or sewage. [...] Blackwater is heavily polluted and difficult to treat because of the high concentrations of mostly organic pollution.
Sounds like they are pretty much describing the same thing. And here's the latest news on these foul-smelling mercenaries:

(CBS/AP) The United States on Tuesday suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting public outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the U.S. Embassy's security provider Blackwater USA.

The move came even as the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements Monday that it had permanently revoked Blackwater's license and would order its 1,000 personnel to leave the country - depriving American diplomats of security protection essential to operating in Baghdad.

"We are not intending to stop them and revoke their license indefinitely but we do need them to respect the law and the regulation here in Iraq," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told CNN.

[...]The Iraqi Cabinet decided Tuesday to review the status of all foreign security companies. Still, it was unclear how the dispute would play out, given the government's need to appear resolute in defending national sovereignty while maintaining its relationship with Washington at a time when U.S. public support for the mission is faltering.

Ah the dilemmas of holding together a puppet government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki looked to gain political capital from the move against unpopular foreign security contractors. His government said Tuesday it would review the status of all foreign security firms working in the country.

Meanwhile, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who wields tremendous influence among regular Iraqis and many politicians despite his militia being one of the most feared in Iraq, called for a ban on all the companies of "the occupiers."

The State Department moved quickly to tamp down anger and possible repercussions after the alleged killings.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday to express regret at the loss of life and promise that the results of an internal investigation into Sunday's incident would be shared with the government in Baghdad.

"She told the prime minister that we were investigating this incident and wanted to gain a full understanding of what happened," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey. "She reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life, in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians."

And I'm sure the civilians know the difference between a missile or bomb that hits their homes or wedding parties "accidently" and those that are aimed deliberately. "I lost my mother, brother and two children, but since I found out it was all a big mistake, I'm good with it."

Rice and al-Maliki "agreed on the importance of working closely together in the time ahead on a transparent investigation,"Casey added.

Or at least as transparent as most "investigations" by this administration are, that is to say Superman with his X-ray vision might have a shot at seeing what's going on (though word is they are going to line the walls with all the excess lead from Chinese products so even the Man of Steel will have a difficult task of it).

Yassin Majid, an adviser to Iraq's prime minister, made no mention of the order to expel Blackwater, and it was unlikely the United States would agree to abandon a security company that plays such a critical role in American operations in Iraq.
[...] Also exploiting public rage over the killings of what police said were 11 civilians by Blackwater guards, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded that the government ban all 48,000 foreign security contractors. [...]

Many Iraqis, who have long viewed security contractors as mercenaries, dismissed Blackwater's contention that its guards were attacked by armed insurgents and returned fire only to protect State Department personnel.

"We see the security firms ... doing whatever they want in the streets. They beat citizens and scorn them," Baghdad resident Halim Mashkoor told AP Television News. "If such a thing happened in America or Britain, would the American president or American citizens accept it?"

Blackwater is among three private security firms employed by the State Department to protect employees in Iraq, and expelling it would create huge problems for U.S. government operations in this country.

[...]Unlike many deaths blamed on foreign contractors, Sunday's shootings took place in a crowded area in downtown Baghdad with dozens of witnesses.

Whoops! That complicates things a bit.

Blackwater says State Department personnel came under attack from insurgents and that its guards returned fire. Iraqi police say a car bomb exploded near a State Department convoy and that Blackwater guards opened fire. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who announced the Blackwater ban, said 11 people were killed. A preliminary Iraqi report on a shooting involving an American diplomatic motorcade said Tuesday that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman’s call to stop, killing a couple and their infant.

The incident drew attention to one of the controversial American practices of the war - the use of heavily armed private security contractors who Iraqis complain operate beyond the control of U.S. military and Iraqi law.

I had to highlight that last part. I think it pretty much says it all. "Privatization" is a holy word to the neocons, the idea that all ills of this country - from the infrastructure to war - can be fixed through private enterprise. But the reality is, private firms are only interested in one thing, and one thing only... profit. And if a private company's source of this profit is war, why in the world would they have any incentive to hope for peace? No money in that. Wouldn't it set up a scenerio wherein the company could work behind the scenes to do secret nasty things to keep the pot stirred up and the contracts renewed? Just a thought.

I recommend taking a gander at the following video. It kind of puts it more into perspective the danger of having a "private army" beyond the reach of normal checks and balances.

For more on other war profiteers, go to youtube and type "iraq for sale" and see how all those rascals like Haliburton are literally screwing the taxpayers of this country out of billions and billions of dollars.

Well, my tiny little brain is starting to hurt now, so I'll leave further pondering of such issues to those better informed than me.

Instead, I'll end this by showing a video for the title tune of this post, a great song by the Doobies: