Monday :: Dec 24, 2007

Because they don't care!

by Turkana
"Why is it they couldn't see this coming?" said Christopher Beese, chief administrative officer for ArmorGroup International, a British security firm with extensive operations in Iraq. "That amazes me. Somebody -- it could have been military officers, it could have been State -- anybody could have waved a flag and said, 'Stop, this is not good news for us.' "

Because this war has nothing to do with good news, the Iraqi people, or basic humanity. It's about money and power and religion.

The Washington Post:

The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents.

The warnings were conveyed in letters and memorandums from defense and legal experts and in high-level discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials. They reflected growing concern about the lack of control over the tens of thousands of private guards in Iraq, the largest private security force ever employed by the United States in wartime.

Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department took substantive action to regulate private security companies until Blackwater guards opened fire Sept. 16 at a Baghdad traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and provoking protests over the role of security contractors in Iraq.

They never take substantive action about anything. They were warned the war wouldn't work. They were warned that they needed more troops. They were warned to protect historic and archeological sites. They were warned that there would be a backlash. They were warned not to dismantle the Iraqi military. They were warned and warned and warned, and they didn't listen to anyone.

The Post also recently reported that the grand jury investigating the September massacre by Blackwater guards is also investigating several other "private security firms." :

FBI investigators have reportedly concluded that the killing of 14 of the 17 civilians was unjustified under State Department rules on the use of force. But the case is muddied by the question of what laws, if any, apply to security contractors operating under military, State Department and civilian contracts.

Because massacring civilians is one of those areas of legal mud.

The question is whether laws applying to private contractors working for the Defense Department also apply to contractors working for the State Department. And although the military has brought charges against numerous official service personnel, they have brought none against private security contractors. Because whether or not mass murder is legal depends on who is doing the mass murdering, and for whom they work. The current grand jury investigations indicates that might soon change.

The Iraqi government has said it knows of at least 20 shooting incidents involving security contractors, with more than half a dozen linked to Blackwater.

The problem, of course, is that legal mud.

For instance, contractors were immunized from Iraqi laws under a June 2004 order signed by the U.S. occupation authority. That ruling remains in effect.

Because the U.S. occupation authority believed what everyone working for the Bush Administration believes: some people are above the law. But let me repeat that, because it's the most stunning thing about the entire article:

For instance, contractors were immunized from Iraqi laws under a June 2004 order signed by the U.S. occupation authority. That ruling remains in effect.

Given what we know, given that civilians are being massacred, shouldn't that ruling maybe, perhaps, no longer be in effect? Shouldn't the Iraqi people be able to hold foreign murderers accountable for murdering Iraqi people on Iraqi soil?

In addition, investigations are complicated by questions about evidence, jurisdiction and the availability of witnesses.

And we can all stop and ponder the meaning of the words "availability of witnesses." Any guesses?

"If they're going to try to indict, they've got a lot to overcome," said Patricia A. Smith, an Alexandria lawyer who represents two former employees of Triple Canopy, a private security firm based in Herndon, in a civil lawsuit. The former employees say they were wrongfully terminated after reporting that their Triple Canopy team leader fired shots into the windshield of a taxi for amusement last year on Baghdad's airport road.

For amusement.

So, let's go back to those two sentences:

For instance, contractors were immunized from Iraqi laws under a June 2004 order signed by the U.S. occupation authority. That ruling remains in effect.

Even for people who murder for amusement?

The two former guards lost their lawsuit, but are appealing. The company was ruled to have acted "inappropriately," and three guards were fired, including, of course, the two who reported the shooting. But no investigation was conducted. By any legal authority. Neither U.S. nor Iraqi. Smith says that as far as she knows, no subpoenas have even been issued. Undoubtedly, more legal mud.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting:

An estimated 2 million children in Iraq face the unrelenting threats of poor nutrition, disease and no school, but there is a window of opportunity for more aid to reach them in 2008, the U.N. Children's Fund said on Friday.

Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of the conflict this year, with hundreds losing their lives or injured by violence, the agency said. Many more had the main wage-earner in their family kidnapped or killed.

"Iraqi children are paying far too high a price," Roger Wright, UNICEF's special representative for Iraq, said in a statement. "We must act now."

It's a warning. For all that's worth.

Turkana :: 4:49 AM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!