Monday, September 17, 2007

Blackmark on Blackwater?

The Iraqi government apparently can do some things. They pulled the license from Blackwater, one of the many mercenary contractors we're paying in this war. Blackwater folks are accused of killing 8 and wounding 13 Iraqi civilians when they opened fire in a Baghdad suburb.

From an ABC report:

Monday's action against Blackwater was likely to give the unpopular government a boost, given the contractors' widespread unpopularity.

Many of the contractors have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution.

The question of whether they could face prosecution is a gray legal area. Unlike soldiers, they are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there.

[Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim] Khalaf, however, denied that the exemption applied to private security companies. Iraqi police said the contractors were in a convoy of six sport utility vehicles and left after the shooting. A witness said the gunfire broke out following an explosion.

"We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes. Everybody in the street started to flee immediately," said Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area. . . .

Blackwater has an estimated 1,000 employees in Iraq, and at least $800 million in government contracts. It is one of the most high-profile security firms in Iraq, with its fleet of "Little Bird" helicopters and armed door gunners swarming Baghdad and beyond. The secretive company, run by a former Navy SEAL, is based at a massive, swampland complex. Until the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, it had few security contracts.Since then, Blackwater profits have soared. And it has become the focus of numerous controversies in Iraq, including the May 30 shooting death of an Iraqi deemed to be driving too close to a Blackwater security detail.


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