Oops, I meant Blackwater USA. Blackwater USA is a private mercenary firm that provides the US Government with a wide range of military-like security services. Blackwater has been generally secretive and operates with impunity from being tried under Iraqi law, they are immune from receiving a Court Martial and they are immune from the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which means they can’t be prosecuted in American Courts for crimes committed overseas. So how is Blackwater accountable for their actions? They simply aren’t.
On September 16th, Blackwater was involved in what appears to be responsible for the deaths of up to 20 civilians in Iraq, based on several witness reports. Instead of acting like a true human being and accepting responsibility for mistakes his employees may have made, the founder and CEO of Blackwater USA Erik Prince has denied the accusations that any of his employees have ever done anything wrong in an attempt to avoid negative exposure about his company.
The right answer for a normal CEO would be to acknowledge that a full investigation is required before jumping to any conclusions instead of instantly denying any fault on the part of Blackwater. This is nothing new for Blackwater; having a history of cover-ups and paying off families who have died as a result of criminal actions by Blackwater employees. On Christmas Eve 2006, a drunk Blackwater employee shot the bodyguard of the Iraqi Vice President. The murderer was fined and fired from the company and he lost his Christmas bonus and had to pay for his own flight home. The family of the victim was paid $20,000 (Prince admitted that victims are paid between $5,000 to $20,000 for compensation).
In 2004, after 4 Blackwater contractors were tortured, murdered, and burned, their bodies strung in the air. Families of the victims tried to contact Blackwater to find out what went wrong. At the time they had no suspicions that the company did anything wrong, but when they were told that in order to see any reports about their relative’s deaths they’d have to sue the company. So that they did.
Blackwater contractors cost the US Government around $1200 a day; costing up to 6 times more than regular US Army personnel. One benefit for the US Government of using contractors is the fact that the death of a contractor killed in a war zone doesn’t count toward the total deaths the US has sustained in the war. There have been over 800 contractors killed in action in Iraq; while there are apparently over 100,000 contractors currently in Iraq providing military and security services for the US Government. This is a huge business.
Blackwater has stated that they support a Bill that would bring private contractors working for the U.S. government to be subject to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. Of course they would support this measure because there is no way that this could be enforced. When a crime is committed in Iraq, do you really think the American Justice system has the ability to properly investigate the crime? Do you think the FBI would be in Iraq interviewing Iraqis who were witnesses to a crime? Hell no; that’s why Blackwater supports this Bill. It’s simply non-enforcable. The White House has even stated that the measure would overburden the military, overstretch the FBI, intrude on prosecutorial decisions and extend federal jurisdiction overseas in ways that would be “impossible or unwise.”
For more information, I recommend you read the book “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” by Jeremy Scahill. I haven’t read it yet, but I have it on order and Jeremy Scahill is an extremely knowledgable person from the interviews I’ve watched with him. In the book Scahill talks about how Blackwater was founded by an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire Erik Prince. He also discusses how Blackwater was one of the first responders after Hurricane Katrina; not to provide aid, but to provide weapons and ammo. The potential rise of Blackwater as a domestic police force is a scary thought; considering how little accountability and oversight they have to the citizens.