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Old 09-17-2007   #1 (permalink)
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"Blackwater" booted from Iraq

Blackwater security firm banned from Iraq - CNN.com
I always thought it was a bad idea having private companies operating like a foreign militia..
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Old 09-17-2007   #2 (permalink)
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I'll bet most of its personnel are just as happy.
My nephew works for an international security firm, not Blackwater, and his management decided right from the get-go to stay out of Iraq, no matter how good the money was.
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Old 09-18-2007   #3 (permalink)
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This is far from the first time that there have been allegations about private security firm killing civillians in Iraq. I think it quite dangerous to allow large numbers of thes contractors to run around a war zone.

On a seperate note, they frequently recruit from special forces at far higher salaries than the governments pay. This as I see it is also a problem in that the governments for whom the special forces formerly worked are then denied the services of some of our most valuable forces in dealing with counter insurgency.

Blackwater itself has very strong ties to some of our politcal leaders.

Here's a Reuters article that gives a sort of overview of the security companies operating in Iraq.Shooting shines light on murky world of Iraq security | International | Reuters
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Old 09-27-2007   #4 (permalink)
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I noticed this article in the NYT. I fail to understand how these essentially private armies are good for US foreign policy:
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said. .............The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.........
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/wo...ractor.html?hp
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Old 09-27-2007   #5 (permalink)
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Well, mercenaries have been used throughout history by all countries. During the cold war era the Soviets, the Chinese and the USA all used mercenaries to fight each other in "proxy" wars. The Iranians are doing it today, and the US govt is paying lots of private companies for providing military type security.

I just hope that Blackwater's excesses do not end up meaning that the lives of our State Department folks over there are in greater danger than they would have been otherwise.
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Old 09-27-2007   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roni View Post
Well, mercenaries have been used throughout history by all countries. During the cold war era the Soviets, the Chinese and the USA all used mercenaries to fight each other in "proxy" wars. The Iranians are doing it today, and the US govt is paying lots of private companies for providing military type security.

I just hope that Blackwater's excesses do not end up meaning that the lives of our State Department folks over there are in greater danger than they would have been otherwise.
I'm aware of the history of mercenary forces. I see this as being much different than the historical use by the US. Largely due to the numbers being used which is somewhat of a subterfuge.
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Old 09-27-2007   #7 (permalink)
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I'm aware of the history of mercenary forces. I see this as being much different than the historical use by the US. Largely due to the numbers being used which is somewhat of a subterfuge.
Kinda like when Clinton reduced the size of the Federal workforce but increased the number of contractors?

Sorry, couldnt' help myself - I know that was alleged, but cannot vouch for its accuracy
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Old 09-27-2007   #8 (permalink)
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The US has always relied heavily on private armies to do its real dirty work. They're sort of a US.foreign legion much like the french version. In fact during the war for Texas independance many of the soldiers were privateers. Even in the AMerican Revolution we hired private soliders. One of the more fanous ones was General Layfayett. Who was actually only a corporal.
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Old 09-27-2007   #9 (permalink)
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I am not concerned about Blackwater. My concern is for our diplomats/State Department personnel.

If the only solution in Iraq is political/diplomatic, we need those folks to stay alive and safe.
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Old 09-27-2007   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roni View Post
I am not concerned about Blackwater. My concern is for our diplomats/State Department personnel.

If the only solution in Iraq is political/diplomatic, we need those folks to stay alive and safe.
I agree I just question the reasons as to why state dept security, our Intel agencies and our military can't protect our diplomatic personnel. Seems odd to me.

On another note apparently at the scene of the incident Blackwater personnel were nearly in a gun battle with both the Iraqi police and army:
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Before TST 22 could arrive, according to the report, TST 23 had towed the Bearcat and returned to the Green Zone. TST 22 found itself alone in the congested traffic circle and confronted by an Iraqi quick-reaction force. "Over the next several minutes, additional Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police units arrived and began to encircle TST 22 with vehicles," according to the report. "The Iraqis had large caliber machine guns pointed at TST 22."
The Blackwater team contacted the tactical operations center for the U.S. Embassy's regional security office, which oversees private security movements, according to the report. The report said the embassy's regional security office deployed the embassy's air assets, believed to be Blackwater's armed "Little Bird" helicopters, for "route reconnaissance and additional coverage."
The Army team "arrived on scene at 12:39 hours and mediated the situation," the report said. "They escorted TST 22 out of the area and successfully back to the [Green Zone] without further incident."
washingtonpost.com
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Old 09-28-2007   #11 (permalink)
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I guess Black Water was doing too good of a job, plus when they were there they didn't have to fall under the US. Congress mandated rules of engagment. That is you have to call head quarters before you can defend yourself. Plus you have to be abolutely sure that the person you shoot at is actually firing his weapon at you.

If target in question is firing at your battle buddy you, then he isn't actually firing at you so you shouldn't respond.
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Old 09-28-2007   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by STOGEY View Post
I guess Black Water was doing too good of a job, plus when they were there they didn't have to fall under the US. Congress mandated rules of engagment. That is you have to call head quarters before you can defend yourself. Plus you have to be abolutely sure that the person you shoot at is actually firing his weapon at you.

If target in question is firing at your battle buddy you, then he isn't actually firing at you so you shouldn't respond.
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Old 10-01-2007   #13 (permalink)
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As usual there's a lot of misinforaton dealt here. On Friday they were given the ok to resume operations in Iraq. May their weapons find their mark.
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Old 10-01-2007   #14 (permalink)
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Blackwater and groups like it are featured in Naomi Wolff's book The End of America. Here a link to an article about some of her points:Naomi Wolf: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Here's a review:The End of America :: Chelsea Green Publishing
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Old 10-01-2007   #15 (permalink)
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I was quite disturbed byexcerpts from the report on Blackwater released today. I find it hard to believe the level at which we are outsourcing important areas of our national security apparatus:
Quote:
The House Oversight Committee’s majority-staff report on Blackwater USA, the security contractor working in Iraq, leaves little doubt that Tuesday’s hearings will feature more than a few grillings. The panel’s list of Blackwater misdeeds is long, its list of State Department responses is too short, and juicy details are sure to feed a growing scandal in Washington.
David Stout and John M. Broder of The New York Times have already reported on the main findings of the report today, so The Lede will add a few interesting excerpts from the document, including a State Department debate on how much a wrongfully killed Iraqi ought to be worth, what taxpayers are charged for a Blackwater security guard’s working day, the reasons why more than 70 of those expensive contractors have been fired, and a jaw-dropping tale of vehicular recklessness.
The full report can be downloaded as a pdf.

State Department Compensation Debate The report puts on display the debate among American officials over how much money Blackwater should pay the family of an Iraqi security guard who was killed by a drunken Blackwater employee last December:
Internally, the Embassy had differing opinions on the amount of compensation. The Charge d’Affaires initially proposed a $250,000 payment, then suggested $100,000. The Diplomatic Security Service opposed these figures as too high. One DSS official called the Charge d’Affaires’ proposals “crazy sums” and stated that such a figure could cause Iraqis to “try to get killed so as to set up their family financially.” Noting that there previously had been a payout of $5,000 for “a guy’s car and a wound to the leg,” the official recommended a $15,000 to $25,000 payment.
By December 26, two days after the shooting, the State Department and Blackwater agreed on a figure of $15,000, which Blackwater would deliver to the family with the assistance of the State Department.
Saving Money: Blackwater vs. Military

Exactly how much money does the United States government pay Blackwater to secure diplpomatic personnel? The report says an average of $1,222 a day for each guard, or $445,891 a year. That’s “significantly higher than the costs that would be incurred by the military,” the paper says. It follows with a comparison:
The security services provided by Blackwater would typically be performed by an Army Sergeant, whose salary, housing, and subsistence pay range from approximately $140 to $190 per day, depending on rank and years of service. On an annual basis, the salary, housing, and subsistence pay of an Army Sergeant ranges from $51,100 to $69,350 per year. The amount the government pays Blackwater for these same services is approximately six to nine times greater.
Blackwater’s Firings “The most serious consequence faced by Blackwater personnel for misconduct appears to be termination of their employment,” the report continued. Here’s an accounting of what it described as the “surprisingly frequent” firings of Blackwater personnel in Iraq, based on data from the company:

An Epic Stretch of Reckless Driving

Even among several deadly incidents involving Blackwater, one limited to dangerous driving stuck out for its blatant disregard of the rules of the road, “for no apparent reason,” according to one contractor on the mission. And Blackwater evidently told the people involved to cover it up:
On November 28, 2005, a Blackwater motorcade traveling to and from the Ministry of Oil for official meetings collided with 18 different vehicles during the round trip journey (6 vehicles on the way to the ministry and 12 vehicles on the return trip). The written statements taken from the team members after the incident were determined by Blackwater to be “invalid, inaccurate, and at best, dishonest reporting.” According to a Blackwater contractor who was on the mission, the tactical commander of the mission “openly admitted giving clear direction to the primary driver to conduct these acts of random negligence for no apparent reason.”
For that episode, two Blackwater employees took their place in the firing chart above. The panel unearthed no other punishment or compensation, nor did it find any reaction from the State Department.
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