Friday, October 5, 2007

Yet more Blackwater, because none of us are thoroughly disgusted yet, right?

“Don’t quote the laws to us. We carry swords” Pompey

The issue of the murderous rampage by Blackwater mercenaries in Baghdad on September 16 is not going away. Today, the Washington Post is reporting that the United States Military had a presence at the scene, and that their report supports the account by Iraqis – they were attacked without provocation – and puts the lie to Blackwaters lie about striking a defensive posture after being fired on.

"It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong," said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. "The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them," he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official said. (emphasis added)

The chorus of professional military officers who criticize Blackwater grows louder by the day. Their criticism is founded on Blackwater’s well-earned reputation for reckless, shoot-first attitude and they claim it reflects poorly on all Americans. Iraqis don’t distinguish between the Blackwater thugs in armored vehicles and American G.I.’s in hummers. "They [Blackwater] tend to overreact to a lot of things. They maneuver around town very aggressively, they've got weapons pointed at people, they cut people off, of course their speeds -- I mean a whole bunch of things they do fairly consistently. But when it comes to shooting and firing, they tend to shoot quicker than others," the U.S. military official said. (keep reading)

Army investigators have interviewed eyewitnesses at the scene and reviewed video footage of Nisoor Square. A U.S. Army unit was present, working in concert with the Iraqi police at the time the shooting erupted. U.S. military personnel were not only present, they cleaned up the mess, ferrying victims to hospitals and attempting to keep the situation under control.

A hundred and fifty yards on, the Blackwater convoy opened fire on another group of civilians and killed two more Iraqi civilians.

For their part, Blackwater has resisted all attempts by military investigators to sort out the incident. When military officials went to the Blackwater compound in the Green Zone but were denied access to company managers.

The obstruction by Blackwater is not stifling investigations. Indeed, it seems to be driving various actions to rein them in.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill that would bring all “contractors” operating in the war zone under United States laws. The bill was approved by a 389-30 margin, in spite of strenuous White House objections. The bill was sponsored by Representative David E. Price, Democrat of North Carolina.

Price has been tirelessly diligent on the issue of accountability for mercenaries for at least three years, and actually offered the bill that passed yesterday back in January. The murderous rampage last month finally gave the rest of the House the “courage” to take a stand.

Now, if the Senate strikes a similar pose, maybe the Deserter in Chief will be forced to watch helplessly as the murderous thugs of in his Praetorian Guard are brought to heel.