Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blackwater: Public Enemy #1

The guys at Blackwater (most former military special forces) have been smeared since the day the war in Iraq began. Dubbed "Killers for hire" and "Mercenaries" they have fought alongside their former brothers in unarmored humvees and shed blood for the same cause. Somehow, since they work for a private company and are getting paid about $100K (if I've been told the right numbers) they are bad people? Would you go to Iraq for 9 months for $100K? Why can't anyone thank them for their former service and be happy that they are finally being paid what they're worth (still not enough to take a trip to hell IMO)? I digress...

Blackwater is back in the news, not for redesigning the security procedures in all the schools in the Outer Banks (which they did pro-bono), but because it seems they have been "banned from Iraq" by the security minister. The charge against them? they "killed civilians" of course. Duh, everyone there is a civilian. Much like Haditha, the Blackwater guys encountered hostile fire and a possible ambush. They reacted accordingly. These aren't FNGs, these men are highly trained former military personnel. I've held a Blackwater application in my hands...trust me, these guys are the cream of the crop.

"...Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the notoriously secretive company has found its niche in selling security directly. Blackwater has earned hundreds of millions of dollars fielding what critics contend is essentially a private army in Iraq and other hotspots, where it has often employed aggressive tactics that some call reckless and possibly criminal.

Those critics now include the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which said Monday it had revoked Blackwater's license to operate following a chaotic weekend shootout that Iraqi authorities say left eight civilians dead and 13 injured.

"The 'civilians' reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire," company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said late Monday. "Blackwater regrets any loss of life, but this convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job to defend human life."

Robert Young Pelton, an independent military analyst who spent a month with a Blackwater team in Baghdad while researching his book, "Licensed to Kill," said Blackwater contractors No. 1 priority is keeping their high-value clients alive.

"The Blackwater guys are not fools," Pelton said. "If they were gunning down people it was because they felt it was the beginning of an ambush."

It wasn't immediately clear if the Iraqi action against Blackwater was temporary or permanent. But if Blackwater is forced to leave Iraq, where it has at least $800 million in government contracts, the privately held company based at a 7,000-acre compound in tiny Moyock stands to lose a huge piece of its burgeoning business." (source)

(Pic: My sis, AB, in front of the Blackwater compound when we were in NC 2 years ago. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the massive facility and drove through miles of cornfields to find it --As you can see...there is nothing you can see but the sign.)

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