Blackwater USA. Security firm or soldiers of fortune

Thank you OC Weekly. We are honored by being recognized as the “best local blog in Orange County.” Our diversified team will continue to raise the bar to educate and inform our readers on a wide spectrum of stories. Hopefully the following post will result in an active debate on another aspect of the war in Iraq that is back in the news.

The following is my post from Jan 26th on the topic of Blackwater USA, a private firm operating in Iraq as we spend billions of dollars in rebuilding that country. We are told that Blackwater also provides security for visiting VIP’s and logistics support for our troops.

While I attempt to post stories that “have legs” this is one which just resurfaced due to a recent incident in which 11 Iraqi’s were killed by Blackwater employees.

In the same edition The LA Times just published TWO editorials on Blackwater. The first by Rosa Brooks entitled “Mercenaries R Us” and a second by Timothy Hsia entitled “The Outsourced War.”

Blackwater employees are, in most cases, retired US military who are well compensated for their services.

After revisiting my Jan 26th post (which follows) we would welcome your thoughts on the pro’s and con’s of companies such as Blackwater. Do private firms, in the process of rebuilding a country in a war zone, have the right to hire their own Army if you will, for their employee security?

From the Juice archives:

Government contracting.. “Outsourcing” military “soldiers of fortune”

Yesterday’s LA Times (1-25-07) had an interesting article entitled “Bush’s rent-an-army.” Jeremy Scahill peels back the onion on Blackwater USA to show the extent of a private “professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm who provides turnkey solutions.” Source Bill Sizemore, Virginian-Pilot news. Blackwater operates a 6,000 acre training facility for their “soldiers of fortune” in Moyock, NC.

In the Times story it claims that there are 48,000 private soldiers now in Iraq.
You should recall the story and photosof four private contractors who were killed with their bodies hung on a bridge back in 2004. They were employed by Blackwater.

After the first Gulf War Defense Secretary Dick Cheney retained the services of a subsidiary of Halliburton to study the use of a private military army in support of American soldiers in combat zones. In other words, “outsourcing.”

“The Geneva Convention expressly bans the use of mercenaries–individual soldiers of fortune who fight solely for personal gain.”

My question for Juice readers. How do you feel about the use of a private military that operates without any US government agency oversight?

This entry was posted by Larry Gilbert, on Friday, January 26, 2007.
3 responses to “Government contracting.. “Outsourcing” military “soldiers of fortune””

Anonymous Says:
1/26/2007 8:54 PM No mention of how many OC folks are working for Blackwater. If you’re a reporter in Iraq you certainly need Blackwater’s services – the military isn’t about to provide security for you. I’ve seen some concerns voiced in South American newpapers about the danger to locals being recruited by them – put the pay is very attractive.
How many Americans volunteered for the armed services to protect Halliburton employees or news reporters – not many I’ll bet.

Ron & Anna Winship Says:
1/26/2007 9:02 PM When they hung our boys on that bridge…in Falluja….we immediately sent $50 bucks to the Blackwater people for their families. Seems like a long time ago now. For prior service guys who basically know how to operate any weapon in the military arsenal and are too old to re-up….they sometimes become private security people for various projects around the globe. Iraq in this case…just seemed to be a great way to make $100K…..protecting various VIP’s or being outsourcing security for jobs the US Army and Marines think is less strategic than they want to engage in. There are always those special circumstances in virtually every country. There is no doubt that the indigenous people don’t like these “CIA look-a-likes” wandering around in Black SUV’s streaming “Get out of the way….you…so and so!”….In any event these guys all have families, are formally American Heroes…or have trained them and are putting their backsides on the line for cash no
doubt….but basically to protect American interests. Is it the right thing to do? Well, probably not….if we had a Draft in this country. But since not…who you goin call if you are in a war torn country and need security – Ghostbusters?

Anonymous Says:
1/28/2007 5:55 PM Deaths and dismemberments are not officially recorded on the contractors, so this is an easy way to keep “official” statistics lower by not reporting them like the military must.

This war is a PR nightmare. Cutting corners to quell some of the bad news is a face-saving move.


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