Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blackwater hasn't skated away just yet

Survivors of Sunday’s bloody rampage in Baghdad by mercenaries employed by Blackwater USA maintain that they were fired upon without provocation. The company insists that their employees were firing in self defense.

An attorney who survived eight gunshot wounds in the conflagration said that he and other motorists were trying to clear a path when they saw the convoy approaching, when the mercenaries opened fire on the line of traffic.

A taxi driver who was shot twice said that he had stopped for the convoy when he saw the guards start firing on a car carrying a family of three that might have failed to stop, or might not have stopped fast enough. The car they were in burned, and the toddler melted to his mothers body in the intense heat.

Then, chaos erupted. The Blackwater mercenaries were firing on maintenance workers, stopped vehicles and a minibus full of girls.

Nine were killed and fifteen wounded in the chaos.

The survivors accounts are coming to light as Iraqi government officials are vowing to introduce legislation that would revoke the CPA edict that immunized mercenary outfits from prosecution under Iraqi laws.
Such a bold move could set up a clash between the government of PM Nuri Kemal al-Maliki and the United States, which relies on tens of thousands of hired guns to supplement the 160,000 American G.I.’s in Iraq.
The melee has had the immediate effect of confining all State Department employees have been ordered confined to the Green Zone until further notice. "In light of the serious security incident involving a U.S. Embassy protection detail in the Mansour District of Baghdad, the embassy has suspended official U.S. government civilian ground movements outside the International Zone (IZ) and throughout Iraq," the embassy said in a "warden's message" e-mailed to Americans in Iraq.
The investigation into the events that unfolded Sunday is still ongoing, but "The preliminary report shows there was no shooting against them," spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh said, referring to the Blackwater guards. "They should follow an Iraqi standard and Iraqi laws. They cannot have immunity…No country in the world would allow the way they are operating in Iraq," Dabbagh said.

On Monday, the Iraqi government announced that they were revoking the license of Blackwater to operate in the country, but that position was modified by Tuesday. Now, the revocation is temporary, pending a full investigation into the incident.

How it will eventually play out is still up in the air. But I would venture that Bremer's "Order No. 17" falls by the wayside, and hopefully there will be some accountability for the goon squads.