This decision is going to pose a significant problem for Blackwater customers in Iraq:

Iraq’s Interior Ministry has revoked the license of Blackwater Security Consulting, an American firm whose contractors are blamed for a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left eight civilians dead.

U.S. soldiers talk with Iraqi shopkeepers while patrolling Sunday in Baghdad.

The firefight took place near Nisoor Square about noon, an Interior Ministry official said Sunday. In addition to the fatalities, 14 people were wounded, most of them civilians, the official said.

Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses reported that one side of the gunbattle involved Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which security contractors often use. The state television network al-Iraqiya reported that a Western security company was involved in the shootout, but it did not identify the firm.

An official with the U.S. Embassy told The Associated Press that a State Department motorcade came under small-arms fire near Nisoor Square, and one of the vehicles was disabled.

The official said no State Department officials were injured but provided no information on Iraqi casualties, the AP reported.

I’m not sure how many folks Blackwater has in Iraq but it has to be a pretty substantial number. I have a feeling that this ruling won’t stand. An abrupt transition would put a lot of influential Blackwater customers at risk. I’d bet on the Iraqis allowing the company to continue operations after paying a hefty fine.



17 Comments

  1. Randy

    Here’s an idea. Let the Iraqi’s hire their own people to provide security. It would be a whole lot cheaper and would help reduce Iraqi unemployment. As for providing security for US State Department personnel, shouldn’t that be the job of the US military?

  2. BARRASSO

    It should be the job of the US military but we only have so many soldiers and Blackwater pays better. So the govt. pays more to replace soldiers with mercs, who are soldiers who have become mercs because it pays more. Yay government efficiency!!

  3. jeff

    Apparently there are government ads in the merc/security trade journals now seeking more contractors for security work in Iraq “becuase of increased levels of insurgent violence”.
    I think they didn’t get the memo that the surge is working.

  4. David

    It’s not a coincidence the head Blackwater guy is a big time Republican contributor.

    How the Iraqis can allow this completely-for-profit guys to run around, basically without any real restraint is simply amazing.

    And they complain about Mexicans coming up here to picking apples??

    If they go, forget meaningful troop reductions.

  5. Wrightdoggie

    Holy crow, I wonder why Al Qaida in Iraq didn’t figure this one out sooner. Start a firefight in the middle of a large crowd, and when the when Americans return fire, they can boot them from Iraq. With so much anti-Bush/anti-American hatred from Americans at home, how can the insurgents lose?

  6. James H. Allen

    IRAQ WAR-POSITION PAPAER
    As kids, we learn very early on in school and at home that we are to be obedient and never to question “God, Our Country, or Family.” We have been taught to believe that these three entities are too be trusted above all else. Indeed, it should be so, but alas, in today’s tumultuous times, we cannot rely on past paradigms, but we must now, if not challenge, at least look at each situation on a case-by-case basis and to become independent thinkers.

    I believe that if we think of the War in Iraq in the following medical terms-we can provide more Americans a better understanding of our dilemma in Iraq.

    Our invasion of Iraq is identical to a severe cut or bruise that we get when we fall down and injure ourselves. The surface area around that bruise will immediately go into a defensive mode, ensuring that no germs enter the area and our body will begin repairing the damage done. If the condition is more severe than that area can handle, other parts of our body, fluids, etc will begin assisting that area of need. If the situation worsens, and there is an invasion of germs and other microorganisms, parts of our body may even shut down, so that greater attention can be given to the battle between keeping our body healthy and the sickness that may occur.

    WE-as INVADERS, are the infestation to the BODY-IRAQ. Sure, we may use our military might to convince ourselves that we can win this WAR. But they (Iraqis) will and are prepared to die, before allowing invaders to come to their land and change their way of life. It is as it should be, it is a foundational principle. When our body goes into defense mode, ALL functions of our body, to the extent necessary, will work as ONE to contend with the invasion of microorganisms. Until ALL germs are eliminated or until death, will the body continue to fight. Such is life; such is the way of MAN.

    This present situation and our (American’s) arrogance can only be defined as a Pyrrhic affair (A victory achieved at great or excessive cost; a ruinous victory). It is as if we have a “WIN AT ALL COST” philosophy. However, those who are making these decisions are not the ones willing to put their own, or their love one’s life on the line. They are anxious and more than willing to send our young men and women who have not yet gain the experience of life, those who are looking to seek their own independence and moreover, those who do not understand the subliminal messages that are conveyed through the media that would make them want to prove themselves on the field of battle, to fight in a war that was doomed to fail before it began.

    We should revisit our selected President’s speech and declare victory as he expressed, “Mission Accomplished”. In his own famous words, “All major military operations will now cease.” Declare victory and leave! IN ADDITION, we must also appropriate funding to THEIR (IRAQIS) contractors to rebuild THEIR own cities in THEIR own way. AGAIN, if we use OUR contractors to do the job, the people will rebel. Is it possible for germs to assist in the repair of the body? I think NOT! Germs do not take ANY part in the rebuilding of the body. The body does all the work-gladly. However they decide to use the money, it is up to THEM – NOT US.

    I express this opinion not to degrade any efforts of goodwill that America has attempted to express. I certainly value the contributions that our armed forces have given. Nevertheless, it is unfair to continue further down a path of destruction without being true to the principles of ethics and the fundamental laws of nature. Bring the troops home!

  7. Piper kelly

    Its a war zone,fingers are on the trigger.I dont get it how some people go about shopping and running a live like all is normal.We all know the situation in Iraq,and to stay alive you must react in spit seconds,thats very human.Civilians must keep a very low profile for its a war zone for God sake!

  8. charles

    First of all, Blackwater is exempt from “licenses” from the notoriously-corrupt Iraqi Interior Ministry. It operates under contract to the U.S. State Department. Most of their contracts are from the GSA schedule, not the notorious “no-bid contracts.”

    Second, I take exception to calling Blackwater and their like (private security contractors, or PSCs) “mercenaries.” It betrays a lack of understanding this well-defined legal term. Here’s a good article on the subject: http://fairreporting.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/10/using-the-word-.html

    Third, contrary to popular belief, PSCs have been around in one form or another since the earliest days of American history: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/09/private_security_contractors_a.html

  9. THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER! Republicans dont care for Texas

    Bush, Perry, Cornyn and McCaul Hate Children (+)
    by: Matt Glazer
    Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:39 AM CDT

    [subscribe]
    Today, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have added 4 million children to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bipartisan legislation had 18 Republican Senators signed on and was only one vote away from being veto proof in the House (more on that later).

    43 Governors signed a letter sent to House and Senate leadership urging President Bush to sign the SCHIP bill. Sadly, Governor Perry is one of 7 Governors who doesn’t think children need insurance either, and maybe that is why he was only elected 39% of the vote.

    Another letter was sent directly to President Bush yesterday urging him to reconsider his veto. There isn’t a link, but the copy of the letter is below.

    The legislation passed by Congress last week represents a bipartisan consensus and is the solution to ensure states and the federal government meet our moral obligation to care for our youngest and most vulnerable Americans.

    This bipartisan consensus bill provides states the opportunity to continue covering millions of currently insured children and allows states to address the growing number of uninsured children. The bill largely reflects the philosophy that state flexibility, as well as options and incentives for state performance, are preferable to mandates. Most importantly this bill represents a common-sense, bipartisan approach that will ensure that health coverage for millions of currently enrolled children is not jeopardized.

    We are encouraged that Congress has prioritized children’s health insurance coverage. We urge you to join the strong bipartisan consensus among Congress, governors, and the American public by signing this legislation into law.

    This second letter was signed by:

    Signing the letter were Govs. Janet Napolitano (AZ), Mike Beebe (AR), Bill Ritter (CO), Jodi Rell (CT), Ruth Ann Minner (DE), Rod Blagojevich (IL), Chet Culver (IA), Kathleen Sebelius (KS), Kathleen Blanco (LA), Martin O’Malley (MD), Deval Patrick (MA), Jennifer Granholm (MI), Brian Schweitzer (MT), John Lynch (NH), Jon Corzine (NJ), Bill Richardson (NM), Eliot Sptizer (NY), Mike Easley (NC), Ted Strickland (OH), Brad Henry (OK), Ed Rendell (PA), Ted Kulongoski (OR), Phil Bredesen (TN), Anibal Acevedo Vila (PR), Tim Kaine (VA), Jon Huntsman (UT), Chris Gregoire (WA), Joe Manchin (WV), Jim Doyle (WI).

    Again, Perry’s name is sadly missing.

    CNN reports that a recent poll has 75% of Americans supporting Congress and the expansion of CHIP. Talk about out of touch.

    Republican officials disappointed in every way. Bush vetoes a bipartisan bill. Perry says he disagrees with 43 Governors. John Cornyn voted against the SCHIP bill in the senate… twice. Worst of all, we were one vote away from making children a priority in the House. Since McCaul voted against the bill, I am going to go ahead and blame him.

    Since Congressional officials like Mike McCaul and Junior Senator John Cornyn are up for re-election this cycle, there total lack of support is sad and confusing. Maybe it is time for them to sit in a room with the 4 million uninsured children and tell them why they don’t need medical coverage. Maybe Rick Perry and the House and Senate leadership should tell Texans why families are not a priority for them but giving plush hand outs to donors are.

    There are no excuses. There is no reason for this veto. There is no reason why our elected official sat on the sideline when we demanded leadership. There is no reason why they deserve our votes ever again.

  10. Jenn

    The thing about this that bothers me is why? I just can’t understand how or why the Blackwater men would, for no reason whatsoever just open up on civilians. Of course “civilian” is hard to say as the insurgents don’t exactly wear uniforms. It would, in my opinion, not be a good idea to pull them all out. But then again I’m just a voter.

    To the moonbat above who was vastly off topic, we are not a welfare state, no matter how much the left wants us to be. This veto was a good thing. We are a Republic, not a socialist society.

  11. David S

    The Blackwater shooters are some of the best this country has to offer. They are taught to controlled bursts that are well aimed. They do not use the spray and pray method. If innocents got shot, its unfortunate, but certainly not intended. These guys are simply the best.

  12. John Ryan

    Blackwater is on its way out. It rose to prominence in its field largely based on its close connections to the extreme right wing of American politics. Now that it has lost the protection from that its days are numbered. THE Democrats are already after it for non payment of taxes. Blackwater falsely claimed that its people were “contractors” when in fact they are employees.

  13. Iwan

    Although not totally related to your current post, I just wanted to let you know of a ground breaking new anti-war film that is opening this weekend in London.

    We need all the help we can to get this film out there and seen. All the support is very much appreciated.

    IRAQ ‘S POST-SADDAM FEATURE AHLAAM TO BE RELEASED IN CINEMAS ACROSS THE UK FROM 2ND NOVEMBER 2007.

    AHLAAM (Dream, Mohamed Al-Daradji, UK/Iraq/Netherlands, 2006)

    Based on true stories, Ahlaam takes us on an incredible journey, following two psychiatric patients, who escape from their mental institution in Baghdad, and a young doctor on the night US forces start their ‘shock and awe’ campaign to “liberate” Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian regime.

    Ahlaam is Iraq’s second post-Saddam feature to hit the big screen. Al-Daradji’s debut feature was filmed under highly unstable conditions, with cast and crew encountering not only all kinds of technical restrictions, but being exposed to shooting, abductions, torture and imprisonment, both by insurgents and the American forces.

    After attending over 75 festivals around the world and winning many respected awards, the film was selected for consideration for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards 2007 and screened to an attentive audience at the BAFTA .

    For security reasons, Al-Daradji had been unable to screen the film in Baghdad. His dream to show it to his own people came true last April, with a screening at the National Theatre to over one thousand people, including cast and crew, members of Iraq’s beleaguered artistic community and government officials. They braved fears of terror attacks to attend and midway through the showing, a rumour that a minibus with explosives had been parked nearby swept the theatre. Luckily it was a false alarm. On the day of the screening, over 200 people were killed in Baghdad by insurgent attacks.

    Ahlaam will be screened in much safer circumstances in the UK starting from Friday 2 November at the ICA London when a special Q&A will be held. Film is being released through Human Film and will tour around the country.

    Other screenings…

    HAWKHURST
    KINO
    7
    02-Nov-07

    BRADFORD
    PICTUREVILLE
    7
    23-Nov-07

    CHICHESTER
    NEW PARK
    2
    01-Dec-07

    ABERYSTWYTH
    ARTS CENTRE
    3
    08-Dec-07

    INVERNESS
    EDEN COURT
    2
    20-Feb-08

    Edinburgh Filmhouse – Edinburgh for 4 days from 7th December with Q&A

    For further information on Ahlaam, please visit http://www.ahlaamthemovie.com or http://www.humanfilm.co.uk http://www.myspace.com/ahlaamthemovie or to view the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN7wAgQlsbk

  14. Taxxed

    If Blackwater gets fined, why don’t we let the U.S. taxpayers pay the fine, or at least give Blackwater a “one-time” bonus? Like the Tarbaby, we’ve got both hands and a foot in it, so what’s wrong with kicking it one more time? Also, aside from the number of people actually killed in that one episode, do we have a number for how many were injured?

  15. Jabbar Fazeli, MD

    “Giving up in Iraq” or “Giving Iraq up”?
    The situation in Iraq is so difficult that even the criticism is becoming chaotic and hard to track. Among the many topics in current events one core issue is worthy of special focus and attention and that is “Iraqi sovereignty” or lack thereof. It maybe easier to control a country that lacks an assertive and independent government, but is keeping Iraq submissive becoming a long term US policy? When the president speaks of not wanting to “give up in Iraq” is he really saying that he doesn’t want to “give Iraq up”? There is evidence of this sentiment in recent events, like the blackwater incidents and the political aftermath in both Iraq and the US. Article 17 of the post-war Iraqi law is a directive by Paul Bremer that gives United States security personnel (independent contractors) immunity from prosecution. The Iraqi government and parliament, following the recent killing of Iraqis at the hand of security agents, are now working to pass legislation to reverse this legal provision and make all security agents subject to prosecution under Iraqi law. This action by the Iraqis is totally ignored by the US administration, however, as in separate but parallel action, the state department and the Pentagon are fighting over which agency should be supervising the independent contractors for the Iraqis. It was finally decided, according to the New York Times, that the Pentagon will take on that responsibility, implying that perhaps that the uniform code of justice will be used to prosecute future validations by independent contractors in Iraq.It is interesting to note the disconnect between what the Iraqis appear to want and what the US is prepared to allow them to have. It is not very hard to predict that tension will likely rise over this issue in the coming months as the Administration fails to satisfy Iraqi government’s wish to assert sovereignty–This will likely widen the schism between the USA and Iraq. The question now is what will the administration do when the Iraqis do pass the new law and try to prosecute independent contractors guarding US officials in Iraq, or push for their removal from the country. The Iraqis are already harassing the independent security contractors using excuses such as non-compliance with weapons licensing laws. It is a popular move with the public and is a way for the Iraqi government to act anti-American without getting in political trouble with the administration. It could be a sign of things to come as Iraq as whole, including its government, is turning anti-American. One thing is for certain and that is that the administration, by denying the Iraqis authority over independent contractors, is leaving itself with only one option moving forward and that is to weaken the current Iraqi government and reduce its authority to assert sovereignty.At this point the Iraqi government has officially revoked blackwater’s license to work in Iraq but the blackwater company continues to work unimpeded. It is assumed that the US is unable to comply with this, legally non-binding, Iraqi government decree to remove blackwater from Iraq because there is nothing to replace this company with. It is the familiar “all or nothing” choice we seem to end up with in Iraq. The decision makers imply that the US government has only one choice (a bad one) and there are no other options. If all hidden agendas and lobbyists are removed from the equation, the administration maybe surprised to find that is more than capable of coming up with other options vis-à-vis oversight of independent contractors in Iraq.Looking at the big picture it is not hard to realize that these seemingly little episodes demonstrate a lack on interest in allowing total independence for Iraq and its government. This stance, whether it is based on a hidden agendas or a full fledged policy, dooms the US presence in Iraq and puts the US on a course to becoming an enemy of Iraq and its future governments.Our politicians need to explain to us how they expect the United States to eventually give the Iraqi government full control over Iraq’s oil and security forces if we can’t even see our way clear to granting the Iraqis the right to prosecute foreign nationals accused of murder on their soil.One solution to the blackwater situation is to allow the Iraqi government to enforce the revocation of the company’s license; the US can then setup a mechanism by which independent contractors can be re-hired by the pentagon. This will most likely result in the bankruptcy of blackwater, despite the lobbying by its billionaire owner, but it would allow the Pentagon to employ ex-blackwater employees under new terms. The Iraqi government having saved face would probably allow the pentagon to assume the role of prosecuting contractors for future infractions. Such action would guarantee independent contractors the ability to work in Iraq while bolstering the Iraqi government’s image, rendering it more relevant and legitimate. More importantly, it would set the tone for future US policy when it comes to respecting Iraqi sovereignty and building a lasting alliance based on respect and mutual interests.

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