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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Blackwater, and contractors in Iraq. (Belated Justice!) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Blackwater, and contractors in Iraq. (Belated Justice!)
BlackBlade
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STOP! THIS IS AN OLD THREAD. MIND YOUR TIME STAMPS AND READ TOWARDS THE END.

Blackwater has been getting alot of media treatment lately in light of the recent incident where 17 Iraqi civilians were gunned down. In addition, a few months prior to those fatal shootings, one of Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi's body guards was shot and killed by a drunken Blackwater emoployee. These events have forced the government to reevaluate management of military contractors in Iraq and any other place where we employ them. In the incident of the 17 killed civilians, early remarks indicate that a pair of women accidentally hit the gas on their car, and plowed towards a Blackwater convoy. They were mistaken by Blackwater guards as suicide bombers, and were fired at, killing everyone in the car. People started trying to flee the scene in all directions and this seems to have spooked the Blackwater employyes who responded alittle more enthusiastically then is typically proper. Time magazine mentioned that one Blackwater guard actually pulled a gun on another guard and commanded him to stop shooting. The government report has not been completed however, so this is all conjecture and guesswork. In the aftermath of the incident with the slain vice presidential body guard, the shooter was rushed out of the country and never tried.

The fact of the matter is, we need contractors as there are simply not enough personel to fill the positions these contractor fill. The US embassy in Iraq is protected by Blackwater. The former head of Iraqi reconstruction L. Paul Bremer was escorted constantly by Blackwater employees. Blackwater is better financed and more professional then our armed forces, many people with business in Iraq prefer them to an army escort. Before Bremer left Iraq as government control was being handed over to the Iraqi's, he signed a statement keeping all American contractors associated with the government outside the jurisdiction of Iraqi law.

Contractor work is extremely risky, which is why contractors are paid well for it.

Here are my qualms with contractors.

1: They are not really accountable to anybody. To me it would be a VERY bad idea to allow the Iraqi government to arrest, try, and punish American contractors. However we do not have a clearly established doctrine of what to do with American contractor firms when their employees commit even as gross a crime as murder. The Blackwater employee who in a drunken stupor shot and killed an innocent man working for the Iraqi government, was simply fired and sent back to the US. Alot of reports indicate that he has since been rehired by another contracting firm also operating in Iraq. If Blackwater is going to operate with approval to use deadly force or even the ability to restrain and stop Iraqi civilians they MUST be accountable to somebody and some entity MUST have oversight. The most Blackwater can do is fire its own employees which is not nearly good enough, nor should it be expected to police itself. If a corporate entity is going to be paid by the US government then the government rightly ought to audit and make sure that outfit is properly representing our interests.

2: Blackwater employees because they are not accountable to anyone, and because they have such an important function act, as if they are untouchable. Blackwater employees know they are talented and essential to our efforts in Iraq. Their ranks are filled with ex special forces, marines, seals, any elite armed organization you can think of. As is common in such a group, they often view Iraqi's as obstacles in their way at best, and potential enemy combatants at worst. US army troops are looked at as annoyances to be ignored or brushed aside. Because they are an entity unto themselves they do not feel anybody can tell them what to do. An army major speaking under terms of anonymity to Newsweek cited an incident where a US Army humvee had broken down in the middle of the road blocking a Blackwater convoy in the middle of an escort mission. The Blackwater employees proceeded to disarm the soldiers, force them to lay down at gun point, pushed the humvee off the road, and proceeded on their way. Blackwater employees often refuse to remove any live ammunition in their guns upon entering a green zone, (which is standard army procedure) even when specifically ordered to by marines or other army officers.

It is a common tactic on escort missions to force Iraqi drivers in front of the convoy off the road if they are moving too slowly. If that is not an option, Blackwater employees often shoot the radiators out so that they can get around the vehicles.

Now I understand that escort convoys are in an EXTREMELY dangerous line of work. MANY ambushes are created by getting a driver in front of the convoy, blowing it up, or simply stopping the car while ambushers attack from all sides. The convoy, stuck in traffic, is a sitting duck. Many enemy combatants do arm their cars with explosives and attempt to plow them into cars holding VIPs.

But the potential for danger does not provide a blanket of justification to do whatever it takes to escort a VIP or deliver supplies to safety. Blackwater cites its impeccable record that although over 70 of its employees have been killed doing their jobs they have never lost a person they were escorting.

Many Iraqis think that since Blackwater employees are mostly Americans, they are therefore representatives of the government. Blackwater whenever it poisons Iraqi opinion against the government puts people's lives in danger.

I think that Blackwater and all government paid contractors need to belong to the jurisdiction of either the US court of military justice, or else our federal court system. If an American commits a crime overseas, we try to extradite them here and try them, I see no reason why Blackwater employees or any other contracting firm are any different. They are given a job and the means to do it, if they do it immorally or illegally they need to be dealt with.

Blackwater employees need to be required to file hefty reports of any time they discharge their weapons or use force, even if it's on an almost daily basis. Blackwater employees are certainly familiar and comfortable using guns, but they should not be overly relied on in the course of their duties. They need to have enough controls that they think twice about using guns, but not so much they take too long to make the decision to use them in a crisis situation.

Blackwater employees SHOULD be required to treat official government troops with respect and courtesy. US troopers in a broken down humvee are just as important as a business man in a convoy. Obviously if Blackwater was escorting President Bush I would grant them more leeway in manuevering him. But disarming US troops and forcing them at gunpoint to move out of the way is FAR beyond what I think contractors can rightly do in their jobs.

[ October 22, 2014, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
who responded alittle more enthusiastically then is typically proper.
quote:
Blackwater is better financed and more professional then our armed forces
quote:
American contractors associated with the government outside the jurisdiction of Iraqi law.
quote:
shooter was rushed out of the country and never tried.
First off, "responded with a little more enthusiasm" is a bit of an understatement when eye witnesses say Blackwater soldiers opened fire with little to no provocation, killing women and children attempting to flee the scene.

And you're right, they do need to be held accountable. It's funny, half the reason why we always demand immunity for our soldiers from the law of other nations it that we fear we won't get a fair trial. I think the reason other nations demand they be allowed to try us so much because they are afraid there will be NO TRIAL AT ALL. We need to try these people, fairly. This country is a joke. We hold foreign nationals indefinately at Guantanamo with no trial, and refuse to try people who obviously committed crimes against innocent civilians. It's sick.

Next, don't forget the fact that Blackwater is screwing the federal government out of millions in taxes. They classify each soldier as an outside contractor, not an employee, which means they don't have to pay a number of taxes. The IRS sent Blackwater a letter saying no, they ARE employees, and they have to pay the taxes, to which Blackwater I believe has yet to reply.

And we wonder why recruiting is such a boon in Iraq right now for terrorist groups, and why it's so easy to come up with propaganda against us.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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quote:
Their ranks are filled with ex special forces, marines, seals, any elite armed organization you can think of.
This is a subject with which I have some experience. Be assured that their ranks are often filled with persons who were not sutable for continued service in your list of organizations. When you are hiring people to drive fast and shoot guns, you end up with people who like to drive fast and shoot guns. They often are not the people you really want in those jobs.
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lem
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quote:
The fact of the matter is, we need contractors as there are simply not enough personel to fill the positions these contractor fill.
The fact of the matter for me is that we should just come home. The longer we are there the longer we have to borrow billions of dollars from China to finance a war that is destabilizing the Middle East. We get a weaker dollar, we radicalize many moderates, lots of civilians die, and Iraq has less of a reason to unite. We pollute their land with shell casings made with Uranium.

We won the war. We removed Saddam and verified there are no weapons of mass destruction. They will be better off once/if we leave.

You know I support him.

quote:
In any case, we have achieved the goals specified in the initial authorization. Saddam Hussein has been removed. An elected government is now in place in Iraq that meets with US approval. The only weapon of mass destruction in Iraq is our military presence. Why are we still over there? Conventional wisdom would dictate that when the "mission is accomplished", the victor goes home, and that is not considered a retreat.

They claim progress is being made and we are fighting a winnable war, but this is not a view connected with reality. We can't be sure when we kill someone over there if they were truly an insurgent or an innocent Iraqi civilian. There are as many as 650,000 deaths since the war began. The anger we incite by killing innocents creates more new insurgents than our bullets can keep up with. There are no measurable goals to be achieved at this point.

I love the fact he has such an extensive library available for reading.
quote:
Considering the death, destruction, and continual chaos in Iraq, it’s difficult to accept the blanket statement that the Iraqis all feel much better off with the U.S. in control rather than Saddam Hussein. Security in the streets and criminal violence are not anywhere near being under control.

But there’s another question that is equally important: “Are the American people better off because of the Iraq war?”

One thing for sure, the 1,500 plus dead American soldiers aren’t better off. The nearly 20,000 severely injured or sickened American troops are not better off. The families, the wives, the husbands, children, parents, and friends of those who lost so much are not better off.

The families and the 40,000 troops who were forced to re-enlist against their will-- a de facto draft-- are not feeling better off. They believe they have been deceived by their enlistment agreements.

The American taxpayers are not better off having spent over 200 billion dollars to pursue this war, with billions yet to be spent. The victims of the inflation that always accompanies a guns-and-butter policy are already getting a dose of what will become much worse.

Are our relationships with the rest of the world better off? I’d say no. Because of the war, our alliances with the Europeans are weaker than ever. The anti-American hatred among a growing number of Muslims around the world is greater than ever. This makes terrorist attacks more likely than they were before the invasion. Al Qaeda recruiting has accelerated. Iraq is being used as a training ground for al Qaeda terrorists, which it never was under Hussein’s rule. So as our military recruitment efforts suffer, Osama bin Laden benefits by attracting more terrorist volunteers.

Oil was approximately $27 a barrel before the war, now it’s more than twice that. I wonder who benefits from this?

Because of the war, fewer dollars are available for real national security and defense of this country. Military spending is up, but the way the money is spent distracts from true national defense and further undermines our credibility around the world.

The ongoing war’s lack of success has played a key role in diminishing morale in our military services. Recruitment is sharply down, and most branches face shortages of troops. Many young Americans rightly fear a coming draft-- which will be required if we do not reassess and change the unrealistic goals of our foreign policy.


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Artemisia Tridentata
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The above quoted/linked spam is just as simplistic as the Bushie stuff. It also appears to be a total hyjack of the contractor thread.
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Bokonon
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Can we just call them mercenaries? Cause that's what they are.

I hate euphemisms like this.

-Bok

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Morbo
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Bok, I'm down with calling them mercs too. The CEO, Erik Prince, has made an extensive PR push against that term, but it fits.

I also think Lyr's collection of quotes is interesting. "A little more enthusiastic"? Are you kidding? Killing 17 civilians with, reportedly, little provocation has nothing to do with enthusiasm. Although all reports aren't in. It will be interesting to see the Army's report on that incident.

Bill Moyers had an eye-opening piece on Blackwater and private merc corporations in general last week:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10192007/watch.html

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Artemisia Tridentata
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They use the term mercenaries among themselves. Actually most of the contract security personnel are from countries other than USA. Countries that have a tradition of English familiarity. Many are Austrailians, Ugandans, Phillipinos, etc.
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lem
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quote:
The above quoted/linked spam is just as simplistic as the Bushie stuff. It also appears to be a total hyjack of the contractor thread.
It is not Spam. It is directly related. We are hiring mercenaries to kill for a living. We rely on them because we adopted a new foreign policy standard and it is causing all sorts of horrible consequences. As has been appropriately pointed out, that line of work tends to attarct the wrong kind of person.

I think we wouldn't have this problem if we had different foreign policy, and I explained why think that way.

To get back to the thread tho by your terms, I don't think we should hire contractors for security in a war zone. We should use that money to train and attract more soldiers.

If our army can't do the job then we should get out...or find a way to give the army what they need to complete the current mission.

I find it repugnant that there are citizens who are paid a very good salary from tax dollars to kill people. In a war zone that is what they are called to do. Not being in our armed services gives them better pay and less oversight.

I think this attracts repugnant people.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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I agree that mercenery service attracts repugnant people. It always did, it always will. The underlying problem in the present instance is not so much the condition of the uniformed military of the US. It is the war zone itself. There is no "front", no "battle fields" on which the military can be effective. Our government has accepted the responsibility for all civil functions in two foreign countrys. The Bush administration has made the decision provide those services through contracting. Contracting is the quickest and easest way to provide services. The quality of those services depends on the skill of the contracting office in writing specifications and the quality of the oversite provided for the contractor. The administration provided contracting officers and quality assurers based on their political views and not on their skills or education. The contracting system was doomed from the start.
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twinky
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quote:
Originally posted by Bokonon:
Can we just call them mercenaries?

The usual definition of "mercenary" is someone who hires themselves out to fight for a foreign power. Private military contractors in Iraq are Americans employed by the U.S. government, so they aren't actually mercenaries by that definition.

Edit: Oops, missed AT's post above mine noting that many of the contractors are in fact not Americans, which would indeed make them mercenaries.

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BlackBlade
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I am just one of the posters in this thread but I respectfully request that this thread at least stay focused for a few posts about contractor related stuff. Whether we ought to be in Iraq or not is immaterial to the contractor issue. We have used them in the past and we will most likely continue to use them in the wars we fight in the future, (I assume this will be the case unfortunately.)

I'm not sure I am entirely comfortable calling Blackwater employees mercenaries as most of their staff are in fact Americans and many of them are in Iraq out of loyalty to the country, I'm sure many of them also just want the money and the chance to fire guns and drive fast. Do we call Americans working for America's interests, "Mercenaries?" Prince likes to point out that if we call Blackwater employees, mercenaries, we would have to call Baron Von Steuben and the Marquet de Lafayette mercenaries.

Artemisia: I meant to point that out that MANY other contractors work in Iraq based in other countries but paid for in part by uncle Sam. Their ranks are filled with many people of many nationalities. I'm pretty sure in Blackwater's case the vast majority are Americans. Thanks for pointing that out though.

Lyrhawn: I used the "enthusiastic" phrasing I did as I did not want to take a group I was already going to be criticizing and use every chance to paint them with disapproving adjectives.

-----

Blackwater does provide a VERY valuable service to the country. In addition to helping our operations in Iraq, they have built the largest special ops training facility in the world, (I believe its the largest in the world) it is used by our armed forces to train personnel constantly. There is no other facility like it. I really feel we are better off in Iraq with them, but only if certain changes are implemented.

The biggest questions for me are who should American contractors be beholden to? How ought we to discipline them as they are not quite army, and they are civilians doing things that for all practical purposes mimic what the army does?

Erik Prince did admit to paying a sum of money (I believe it was $20,000) to the family of the Iraqi body guard murdered by a Blackwater employee. Whether that is enough compensation is a good question, but I don't think you can simply pay off a family like that.

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MrSquicky
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BB,
Where are you getting your information about the employees of Blackwater?

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
BB,
Where are you getting your information about the employees of Blackwater?

For the most part, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, CNN. I also did a little browsing of the linked sources for their wikipedia article.
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Mucus
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Man, I have no easy answers about the whole Iraq quagmire. I do know this about paramilitary forces, mercenaries, or whatever you want to call them.

Tread very carefully.

Its an odd thing about humans. See they get pissed off when someone they consider "their own" does bad things to them, but they get even more pissed off when someone they consider to be "outsiders" does bad things to them. Add in a drop of extra-territoriality, in that these people act as though they are above the local law and make the locals feel like they are second-class citizens in their own countries, then you have a very dangerous combination.

We're talking shades of the extraterritoriality provisions built into the Unequal Treaties and thus shades of the resulting Arrow War, Boxer Rebellion, and other unhealthy unintended consequences.

I'm not saying that bad unintended consequences *will* occur, but these are very dangerous elements to play around with when so much of your victory rests on the ability to bring the local population to your side.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Lyrhawn: I used the "enthusiastic" phrasing I did as I did not want to take a group I was already going to be criticizing and use every chance to paint them with disapproving adjectives.
Call a spade a spade. We've gone years without taking a real look at groups like this and the things they've gotten away with. If they've earned the criticism, then give it to them, and I think they have. Don't bother softening the blow, the Bush Administration has already softened it enough. They need tough love right now, if they even deserve that much.
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Sterling
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All else aside, what we have here is a heavily armed group that's paid significantly more than their counterparts in the military- by the same source, no less- doesn't follow the same rules of engagement, and isn't accountable to Iraqi law- which is the law of a government installed by the United States.

That's awful for military morale, terrible for discipline, wreaks havoc with an unstable nation desperately trying to establish law and order, and provides yet one more reason for anyone who wishes to believe it that the idea of an independent, empowered, free Iraq is a sham.

I note the installation of the Iraqi government by the U.S. mostly because it creates an overshadowing suggestion that contractees of a U.S. company would be viewed leniently by a criminal court and yet Blackwater's employees still aren't subject to those laws, implying that the Iraqi government is not only a puppet, but an impotent puppet. Whether this suggestion is accurate or not, it's not a hard conclusion to reach.

In short- and noting that I don't off hand know the full scale of the duties fulfilled by Blackwater employees- it's hard to imagine that their role could possibly be justified in light of the damage they're doing on multiple fronts.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do we call Americans working for America's interests, "Mercenaries?"
If they're mercenaries, yes.
That the word "mercenary" carries with it certain negative connotations is due entirely to the traditionally poor performance and behavior of mercenaries. Rather than trying to avoid applying the word to actual mercenaries in order to avoid hurting their feelings, I'd prefer that they try to avoid engaging in the behavior that earned the word "mercenary" its bad rep.

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twinky
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Do we call Americans working for America's interests, "Mercenaries?"
If they're mercenaries, yes.
Wouldn't this require that they be working for America's interests while in the employ of a foreign power?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Lyrhawn: I used the "enthusiastic" phrasing I did as I did not want to take a group I was already going to be criticizing and use every chance to paint them with disapproving adjectives.
Call a spade a spade. We've gone years without taking a real look at groups like this and the things they've gotten away with. If they've earned the criticism, then give it to them, and I think they have. Don't bother softening the blow, the Bush Administration has already softened it enough. They need tough love right now, if they even deserve that much.
Please remember though that the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident are hazy at best and the official report of what happened has not been published.

Tom: what is the difference then Tom between Blackwater employees and our own soldiers? They are both paid for their services, what specifically makes a mercenary a mercenary? None of our soldiers were conscripted, they all enlisted.

Dictionary.com identifies mercenaries as,

1. working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.

2. hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.


3. a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

4. any hireling.

I'm sure many blackwater employees fit into definition 1 but not all of them. They all fit in definition 4 but like I said so does our own army. 2 & 3 don't really apply to Blackwater in particular.

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MrSquicky
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Are Blackwater employees all American? I don't know about them specifically, but many of the mercenaries in Iraq are not American.

And considering the whole defrauding the IRS and accusations of smuggling weapons into Iraq to sell, I'm not willing to accept "They are patriots." as just a bald assertion.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Tom: what is the difference then Tom between Blackwater employees and our own soldiers?
I have argued in the past that there isn't much of one. On the other hand, our soldiers are accountable to more institutions and more people than Blackwater's employees.

If you think Blackwater's people would work for free, out of some sense of patriotic duty, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree.

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Morbo
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quote:
Blackwater is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors [in Iraq--Morbo], providing a total of 987 contractors. Of the 987 provided, 744 are American citizens.
from a Congressional Research Service report, via wikipedia.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32419.pdf

I can't find the stats for Blackwater as a whole.

Another contractor, Triple Canopy, has 101 Americans and 259 foreign employees (2 Iraqis) under contract in Iraq.

All numbers from the State Dept. as of May 2007.

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MrSquicky
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Any response to that, BB?
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BlackBlade
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Tom: I've already admitted that large numbers of Blackwater employees probably work primarily for money I don't think we disagree then if you believe our soldiers come close to also being mercenaries.

Morbo: So approximately 75% are American citizens. That is a mite lower then I guessed but I got the feeling they were about 85% American citizens, 15% everyone else. I know there are MANY other contractors that work under the government besides Blackwater, and many of them are based in other countries.

Now I am really unsure whether military courts or the federal court system work better for contractors. An Australian could not be tried by either, we'd probably have to extradite them to their country of citizenship and allow them to handle it. Americans I suppose would have to prosecuted by our federal system of courts as they just don't quite work as military.

I am completely bonkered as to who should police contractors and make sure they behave. If a contractors vehicle is stopped by an American army humvee and the soldiers command them to halt and the Brits inside say, "Piss off" I'm not sure either side is in the wrong. On the other hand, if the government pays them, the government should have oversight over them.

I think I would favor an arrangement that if they wan't to bid for contracts in Iraq and are paid by our government they have to sign a statement allowing the government to arrest, deport, or detain their employees. If they can't live with that don't try to contract work out from the government. I still have no idea which entity or agency would have this oversight/diciplinary power.

I also believe that the government of Iraq should have some sort of ability to refuse to allow contractors to work in their country if they misbehave. I think the Iraqi government should be able to some extent control which foreigners prance about within their borders.

Mr S: I was unsure which person you were wondering what my response to was. I'm thinknig Morbo.

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MrSquicky
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Well, you've been trying to make the point that it is wrong to call them mercenaries because they are fighting out of patriotism. That a significant number of them aren't American seems to throw that into doubt.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
Well, you've been trying to make the point that it is wrong to call them mercenaries because they are fighting out of patriotism. That a significant number of them aren't American seems to throw that into doubt.

I was hesitant to call them mercenaries as I think the distinction might have been important. I wasn't stating it as a position I had planted my feet on. If they were 100% American citizens would they stop being mercenaries? If they were 99.9% American citizens would they suddenly be mercenaries? I think right now I am comfortable calling them mercenaries, maybe pseudo-mercs as they seem like a unique kind of mercenary.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
maybe pseudo-mercs as they seem like a unique kind of mercenary.
How so? edit: Are they unique, I mean.
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Dan_raven
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BB what I'm interested in is what does the average GI think of a Blackwater person? Johnny and Joe go through basic together. Both go on to special forces training (all paid for by Uncle Sam). Then when the time come, Joe re-enlists to help defend his country. Johnny gets a visit from the Blackwater headhunter, leaves the military and signs on Blackwater. Now Joe and Johnny meet in Iraq, but Joe is making 50K a year while Johnny, doing the same or less dangerous things, is making 200k.
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BlackBlade
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From what I have read the stereotype of a Blackwater employee is that they are cowboys in Iraq, above the law as they think they know better then others as to how to do their jobs.

One anecdote cited was a marine ordering a Blackwater employee entering a green zone facility to empty his magazine of ammunition and to put the gun on safety. The employee responded by wiggling his trigger finger and stating, "This is my safety."

Certainly Blackwater employees being trained to be elite, and being better equipped/funded makes it easy to see a sense of superiority when dealing with basic army.

Mr S: When we typically think of mercenaries we imagine foreigners hired to fight battles for us, or to hunt down a high priority target/person.

Blackwater operatives on occasion have delivered supplies to our troops as well as ferried them to hospitals. I guess the core idea of a mercenary is that they are not regular army or citizens working for the government. I don't have qualms with calling Blackwater folks mercenaries, it just seems they fill a job that is not part of the traditional idea of a mercenary.

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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
And you're right, they do need to be held accountable. It's funny, half the reason why we always demand immunity for our soldiers from the law of other nations it that we fear we won't get a fair trial. I think the reason other nations demand they be allowed to try us so much because they are afraid there will be NO TRIAL AT ALL. We need to try these people, fairly.

We don't always demand immunity for our soldiers in every nation, although it's certainly a desirable goal from our POV. From my limited understanding, in each country that we regularly have troops in we negotiate an agreement on how our troops will be handled in criminal cases. This is why those US soldiers in Okinawa and Japan in the last 20 years have gone before Japanese courts and been sentenced to Japanese prisons for rape and murder (and possibly other charges.)

In Iraq's case, Bremer unilaterally ruled contractors in broad categories would be exempt from Iraqi justice. Since the Iraqi government was in it's infancy, it's hard to question that decision now. But it meant they fell into a legal limbo--not subject to Iraqi or American law, nor the military's UCMJ code.

I'm not sure what should or will happen next. But if Iraqis have any pretensions of sovereignty, they will draft some laws or negotiate with us over contractors' legal status.

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Blayne Bradley
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if theyre mercenaries what keeps foreign agencies from offering to pay them more to work against US interests?
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Stan the man
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_raven:
what does the average GI think of a Blackwater person?

One of my guys in the shop I work in just came back not too long ago from Afganistan. At least over ther, he says Blackwater is about useless. His unit did a lot of the protection of diplomats and stuff. Blackwater just kinda sat on their wahzoo's. He said as bad as they are over there, he'd hate to see how bad they are in Iraq. Just to give a perspective.

quote:
Blackwater is better financed and more professional then our armed forces
An' BB, I highly disagree with this statement.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
An' BB, I highly disagree with this statement.
If it alleviates your objection, the professional comment was directed more that their equipment and training rather then their manner. I was not trying to say they are better soldiers then US armed forces.

Blayne: They are under contract to work for us. If a contractor was hired by say terrorists to fight against us they'd run the risk of the US armed forces using deadly force against them. We are much better at killing people then our current enemies are.

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Stan the man
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quote:
If it alleviates your objection, the professional comment was directed more that their equipment and training rather then their manner. I was not trying to say they are better soldiers then US armed forces
Partial, but I'm not going to argue on it. I just know people that went there and came back. They may have better equipment in some areas. Training.....sure, they just don't put it to use as much as the military does. Their idea of protecting a diplomat in Afganistan is to sit along the road way. Meanwhile our own guys are on their feet and alert. An' really, per what I was told by my friend that just got back. The Blackwater guys don't even really go out much and do anything. They would walk around the base acting all high and mighty, and since they were always on base, they would buy up all the good stuff at the exchange. Except for the whole loss of life issue, I say we go back to the old days. Send the mercenaries/contractors in first and save our trained troops for last. Mind you, I'm not trully trying to advocate this, I'm just saying.
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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
An' BB, I highly disagree with this statement.
If it alleviates your objection, the professional comment was directed more that their equipment and training rather then their manner. I was not trying to say they are better soldiers then US armed forces.
If private training is more professional than military training, why do former SEALs and Special Forces soldiers command such huge salaries at those private military corps? Shouldn't they be able to do their own training up to Special Forces level?

Your probably right about the equipment issue though. All the news stories I've read about Blackwater talk about their great gear.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Morbo:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
And you're right, they do need to be held accountable. It's funny, half the reason why we always demand immunity for our soldiers from the law of other nations it that we fear we won't get a fair trial. I think the reason other nations demand they be allowed to try us so much because they are afraid there will be NO TRIAL AT ALL. We need to try these people, fairly.

We don't always demand immunity for our soldiers in every nation, although it's certainly a desirable goal from our POV. From my limited understanding, in each country that we regularly have troops in we negotiate an agreement on how our troops will be handled in criminal cases. This is why those US soldiers in Okinawa and Japan in the last 20 years have gone before Japanese courts and been sentenced to Japanese prisons for rape and murder (and possibly other charges.)

In Iraq's case, Bremer unilaterally ruled contractors in broad categories would be exempt from Iraqi justice. Since the Iraqi government was in it's infancy, it's hard to question that decision now. But it meant they fell into a legal limbo--not subject to Iraqi or American law, nor the military's UCMJ code.

I'm not sure what should or will happen next. But if Iraqis have any pretensions of sovereignty, they will draft some laws or negotiate with us over contractors' legal status.

Of the major US combat operations of the last 15 or so years, including two Iraqs and the Balkans, I believe (though feel free to correct me), that the US has refused to let its troops be tried in the courts of the nations we are fighting in. And of course I'm guessing you'll remember our stance on the ICC.

Blayne -

They can't woo the soldiers away because the only nation on Earth that could probably afford to is China...likely with the interest from the loans they're giving us. But seriously we're paying them vast sums of money, do you think many in the region could outpay us?

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Morbo
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Lyr, I just had a long reply but Firefox crashed and it's vapor.

In short, let me just say that the US does not always demand nor do we always get legal immunity for our troops and support personnel from local foreign governments.
quote:
In 1998, 5,092 cases were processed by host country governments under SOFA -- these included minor offenses involving the operation of motor vehicles, such as reckless driving. And as of June 1, 1999, there were 41 military personnel serving sentences in foreign prisons.
from global security.org's page on Status-of-Forces Agreement [SOFA]
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/sofa.htm

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docmagik
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Blackwater started the San Diego fires.

http://ianschwartz.com/2007/10/24/audio-randi-rhodes-blackwater-started-the-fires/

quote:
I started just doing Google searches to try and figure out. You know, arson, arson, it was like crazy trying to figure out why is that being downplayed? Why is that, you know, just a small part of the story? And you know, every time I look for it what comes up, believe it or not, is that Blackwater wants to move to San Diego and build this giant complex in San Diego right where most of the evacuations are taking place and you know. You just know wherever there is fire, this administration will be out there doing what it does best and that is fanning the flames, you know. It just spooks me, I can’t explain to you how creepy this whole thing is that you know, you’ve got these fires. Some of them are thought to be the work of arsonists and in the same breath you’ve got a community that’s on fire that just recently protested Blackwater West. Just recently said no to Blackwater and apparently you don’t do that. I mean, I don’t even know what to think. You know, nobody is saying Blackwater set the fires, that is nobody that doesn’t want their house burned down. Nobody is saying that, but it is all so bizarre that this is America and you have to sort of sit there and wonder … arson, same place Blackwater West wants to be, people protesting. And then you find out that some of the guys that used to work for Blackwater are now in Schwarzenegger’s administration. It’s all so creepy.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I have argued in the past that there isn't much of one.
Why do you think this, Tom?
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Bokonon
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docmagik: That's just moronic. That's up there with the whole "Israel knew about 9/11" conspiracy.

-Bok

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Morbo:
Lyr, I just had a long reply but Firefox crashed and it's vapor.

In short, let me just say that the US does not always demand nor do we always get legal immunity for our troops and support personnel from local foreign governments.
quote:
In 1998, 5,092 cases were processed by host country governments under SOFA -- these included minor offenses involving the operation of motor vehicles, such as reckless driving. And as of June 1, 1999, there were 41 military personnel serving sentences in foreign prisons.
from global security.org's page on Status-of-Forces Agreement [SOFA]
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/sofa.htm

Fair enough. To be fair to you, I wasn't casting a wide enough net. I was specifically referring to active combat zones, whereas I think the majority of your references are to US bases in host countries like Rammstein in Germany or the marine base in Okinawa. I think the difference is that those bases would only be there with the sort of deal that gives the host nation the right to prosecute, but in active combat zones, the government probably isn't even stable enough to make such a deal, and even if they were, I doubt the US would go along with it, specifically because it IS an active combat zone, and there's a bigger chance of any sort of combat operation having reprecussions for soldiers.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
if theyre mercenaries what keeps foreign agencies from offering to pay them more to work against US interests?

Well, aside from the fact that they have some sort of contract, unless you're paid so much for changing sides that you'd never work again, you don't want to aggravate the people who provide you with work, and you don't want to be known as unreliable when the people who work around you are high-strung anyway and carrying automatic weapons.
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Dan_raven
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quote:
if theyre mercenaries what keeps foreign agencies from offering to pay them more to work against US interests?
What makes you think they aren't?

The US does not have a monopoly on needs for armed aid, nor is Blackwater contractually obliged to limit itself now or in the future, to US only ops.

Right now it is not financially sound for Al-Queda to risk bying a Black Water team. They can outfit 1000 suicide bombers for the cost of a couple Blackwater guards.

However, when Iraq gets calm enough, Blackwater will have to go somewhere to earn its keep. Saudi Arabia, Russia, even some South American individuals have enough money to afford Blackwater security.

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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
One anecdote cited was a marine ordering a Blackwater employee entering a green zone facility to empty his magazine of ammunition and to put the gun on safety. The employee responded by wiggling his trigger finger and stating, "This is my safety."
Perhaps he's seen Black Hawk Down one time too many.

--j_k, who thinks a "hireling" is a hobbit you pay to mow your lawn

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Dan_raven
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Funny, when I thought of the wagging finger I thought of these ads
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BlackBlade
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http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/30/blackwater.immunity/index.html

^^

Well this is certainly a kick in the teeth for the Iraqi government. What business do we have telling all the guards that none of them will be prosecuted for last months shooting of 17 people? If somebody climbed to the top of the Iraqi embassy in DC and managed to gun down 17 Americans before being captured, and the government granted him immunity Americans would throw a fit and make heads roll.

But perhaps they offered the contractors immunity so that they could probe into a deeper issue. I'm not sure but this really bugs me.

[ October 30, 2007, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Tresopax
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quote:
The usual definition of "mercenary" is someone who hires themselves out to fight for a foreign power.
I'd think the "for a foreign power" part of that definition is the least important part though. Even if they aren't "mercenaries" per se, they do for all practical purposes act like mercenaries if they are hiring themselves out to fight for a military they aren't a part of and thus aren't truly responsible to.
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Morbo
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I saw that story BB. The CNN version is poorly written, it says "investigators promised Blackwater guards immunity from prosecution for the incident"-- then later says it's limited immunity.

If it's limited or use immunity, the Blackwater guards could be prosecuted, but only without using their previous testimony (and it's so-called "fruits"). But realistically, prosecution is difficult or unlikely.

The AP has a better story.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
When we typically think of mercenaries we imagine foreigners hired to fight battles for us
That's not what I think of and I really don't think it is an accurate description. Leaving aside the mercenary armies of the middle of the past millenium, the mercs that American (and foriegn) businesses hire to provide security and/or muscle are often staffed in part by American citizens.

Blackwater is a well-connected example of an American mercenary company, by they are by no means the only one.

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