I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Cowboys

I watched the movie Tombstone a couple of weeks ago. It's about the Earp brothers confrontation with "The Cowboys". They were a bunch of really bad apples. They would kill anyone who got in their way, they would kill just for the hell of it and when they were drunk they would just kill. Sounds a lot like Blackwater.
Report Depicts Recklessness at Blackwater
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 — Guards working in Iraq for Blackwater USA have shot innocent Iraqi civilians and have sought to cover up the incidents, sometimes with the help of the State Department, a report to a Congressional committee said today.

The report, based largely on internal Blackwater e-mail messages and State Department documents, depicts the security contractor as being staffed with reckless, shoot-first guards who were not always sober and did not always stop to see who or what was hit by their bullets.

In one incident, the State Department and Blackwater agreed to pay $15,000 to the family of a man killed by “a drunken Blackwater contractor,” the report said. As a State Department official wrote, “We would like to help them resolve this so we can continue with our protective mission.”


Blackwater guards have engaged in nearly 200 incidents of gunfire in Iraq since 2005, and in the vast majority of cases Blackwater people fired their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the injured, the report found.

The shootings logged by Blackwater were more than those by the other two private military contractors combined, the committee found. Blackwater has more than twice the number of contractors than the other two combined. The other contractors are DynCorp International and Triple Canopy.

“Blackwater also has the highest incidence of shooting first, although all three companies shoot first in more than half of all escalation-of-forces incidents,” the staff report said.

And the State Department’s own documents “raise serious questions” about how department officials responded to reports of Blackwater killings of Iraqis, the report said.

“There is no evidence in the documents that the committee has reviewed that the State Department sought to restrain Blackwater’s actions, raised concerns about the number of shooting incidents involving Blackwater or the company’s high rate of shooting first, or detained Blackwater contractors for investigation,” the committee staff wrote.

Moreover, contrary to the terms of its contract, Blackwater sometimes engaged in offensive operations with the American military, instead of confining itself to its protective mission, the staff found.
As I reported here Blackwater was responsible for half of the deaths and injuries on the streets of Baghdad during the eight day period that the administration was trying to claim that life was returning to "normal". That kind of "normal" is bound to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people - not. In the movie the Cowboys had Sheriff Behan to look out for their interests. In real life Blackwater has Condi Rice and the State Department to look out for their interests.

Now Condi wants the FBI to investigate Blackwater, probably so she can stonewall Waxman. And if you had any doubt we are talking about a band of outlaw Cowboys here there is this:
Private security contractor Blackwater USA has had to fire 122 people over the past three years for problems ranging from misusing weapons, alcohol and drug violations, inappropriate conduct, and violent behavior, according to a report released Monday by a congressional committee.

That total is roughly one-seventh of the work force that Blackwater has in Iraq, a ratio that raises questions about the quality of the people working for the company.

Update II
As an ex Navy Seal Blackwater's Erik Prince may not be a chicken hawk but he is well connected politically which may explain the success of Blackwater. Josh Marshall has the details.

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