Saturday, April 04, 2009

Giving the Devil His/Her Due

Remember that scandalous company that killed any number of innocent Iraqis while ' protecting' U.S. personnel in the manner Iraq hated enough to ban them? Yes, I mean Blackwater. They have new uniforms and a new name, and they're back. This from John Cole at Balloon Juice.

Late last month Blackwater Worldwide lost its billion-dollar contract to protect American diplomats here, but by next month many if not most of its private security guards will be back on the job in Iraq.

The same individuals will just be wearing new uniforms, working for Triple Canopy, the firm that won the State Department’s contract after Iraqi officials refused to renew Blackwater’s operating license, according to American diplomats, private security industry officials and Iraqi officials. Blackwater — viewed in Iraq as a symbol of American violence and impunity — lost the contract after being accused of excessive force in several instances, particularly an apparently unprovoked shooting in downtown Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed.

Despite the torrent of public criticism against Blackwater, American officials say they are relieved that the old guards will stay on. Otherwise, Triple Canopy, they say, would not be able to field enough qualified guards, with the proper security clearances, before the new contract goes into effect in May.

“There is just no other way to do it,” said one Western diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to discuss the issue publicly.

Critics of Blackwater said they worried that the same people might perpetuate what they believed was a corporate culture that disregarded Iraqis’ lives.

“They’re really all still there, and it’s back to business as usual,” said Susan Burke, an American lawyer who has filed three civil rights lawsuits against Blackwater on behalf of Iraqi civilians alleged to be victims of it.

An unresolved question is whether Blackwater, recently renamed Xe (pronounced zee), or any affiliated company will profit from the deal.

Contracts let in the misconduct of our occupation of Iraq have been irresponsible to the point of criminal conduct. The return of the very force that the country of Iraq had refused is actionable.

No decent government would inflict this kind of misbehaving mercenaries on a country it expected ever to have decent relations with. Our military should be rebuked, and this decision revoked.

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