Tuesday :: Oct 30, 2007

Stop The Mercenaries

by Steve

It should have been clear to any of us, especially members of Congress, that the Bush Administration had no intention of letting Blackwater be held accountable for what in essence are war crimes against an occupied native population. It isn’t surprising that the Bush Administration immunized Blackwater as part of its faux investigation of the recent slaughter of Iraqi civilians at the hands of a Blackwater State Department security detail, because doing so was the quickest way to make sure that Blackwater would escape accountability for the crime and thereby provide protection for the administration itself.

But what will the Iraqis do when they see the Bush Administration willingly let Blackwater skate for this crime? What kind of signal does that send to the al-Maliki government about the value of Iraqi lives relative to the political power of Blackwater? Well, the first step of that took shape today when the Iraqi cabinet, unable to agree on much else these days, went ahead and sent to the parliament for approval a measure that rescinds Paul Bremer’s get-out-of-jail-free card for Blackwater and all other private security firms. How will the administration’s blown investigation and shielding of Blackwater affect the remainder of our relationship with the al-Maliki government?

Moreover, how will Congress now react? Remember that the initial State Department after-action investigation report was written by Blackwater, and not the State Department, a fact that was reflected in the initial State saying that hostile fire initiated the slaughter. Remember that the FBI was sent over to investigate this matter, but neither the Pentagon nor the Iraqis were contacted by the FBI or allowed to participate in this bureau investigation, and the bureau itself was compromised because its security in-country was provided by, you guessed it, Blackwater. So State and the FBI’s investigations were shams from the start. Worse yet, even though the State Assistant Secretary for security left his post after this mess, Condi then promoted two other officials who had their hands dirty with Blackwater. On top of this, the Department of Justice had no knowledge that State gave limited-use immunity to Blackwater staff, yet Condi's pipeline to the White House is a little more direct than a Justice Department without an AG.

Frankly, Congress must do something now. Condi testified just last week to the House on this and other matters, yet she avoided testifying to Henry Waxman’s Government Oversight committee and she never disclosed to Congress last week that her own staff had just given Blackwater a pass for war crimes. And the administration already opposes the House's effort to place State Department contractors under the same legal accountability as Defense Department contractors, calling into question how committed this White House and Secretary of State are to the rule of law.

Isn’t it time for John Murtha to attach language to the war funding supplemental next year banning the use of private mercenary armies in Iraq? Isn’t it time for Waxman to attach language to the 2008 State Department budget holding Rice accountable for the actions of private mercenary armies under her control, especially since she has given them a new $92 million contract? And isn’t it time for the Democrats in Congress to force Bush to veto these basic accountability measures in light of these immunity deals and then tell him that the funding for both State and the supplemental dries up until Bush agrees that the United States should not be using taxpayer monies to fund private mercenaries unaccountable to the Iraqis or the American people?

Steve :: 7:35 AM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!