Sunday, January 6, 2008

Blackwater Security Consulting: Malfeasance in Arms?

While Blackwater’s notorious September 16, 2007 incident is a day which will “Live in Infamy” for most of Iraq’s civilians, is this another case of “Ways v Means”?

By: Vanessa Uy

The first time I heard of Blackwater was back in April of 2007 when a former “Dogs Of War” neighbor of ours talks about back in the days when they “Liberated” Zimbabwe back in 1979, they weren’t behaving like Blackwater personnel. I think they’re telling the truth because they’re not afraid to post their own pictures on their MYSPACE account. Ah, to not live in fear, priceless.

Known for their close ties to the GOP, Blackwater Security Consulting was founded in 1997 by ex US Navy SEAL Billionaire Erik Prince and Al Clark. As Blackwater’s exploit’s got inadvertently scrutinized by the international media thus gaining their reputation as mercenaries. However under international law, American citizens working for Blackwater are not considered “mercenaries” when they are assisting the US military. While the Organization of the Islamic Conference recently classified Blackwater as a terrorist organization, due to it’s recent excessive use of force on innocent Iraqi civilians.

Blackwater is based in the US State of North Carolina where it operates a tactical training facility - which it claims to be the world’s largest. The company trains more than 40,000 people a year from all of the various military services and a host of other agencies.

Of the US State Department’s three major private security contractors, Blackwater is currently the largest. At least 90% of the company’s revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are “no-bid contracts”. Blackwater’s current president, Gary Jackson, is also a former US Navy SEAL.

Blackwater was one of the several private security firms employed following the US invasion of Afghanistan. Blackwater was also hired during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the Department of Homeland Security to maintain order in New Orleans and to “apprehend looters”.

Incidents of misconduct and malfeasance of some Blackwater personnel happened way before the September 16, 2007 “shooting spree” incident. According to the US State Department, on December 24, 2006, a drunken Blackwater employee shot and killed a bodyguard who was protecting the Iraqi vice president. In the weeks after the September 16, 2007 incident, the legal status of Blackwater and other security firms in Iraq is a subject of contention.

I don’t know personally anyone of those currently employed by Blackwater who’s assigned in Iraq but could this be a case of a few bad apples ruining the whole bunch? I mean Blackwater –as a corporate entity – usually does whatever it can to maintain the professionalism of it’s personnel because I question the wisdom of running the company via some kind of Machiavellian machination. Or is their primary mission in Iraq is to rule by fear i.e. “To rule by fear is to rule completely”?

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