Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.
Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.
John, my Marine son, observed from his experience with Blackwater that the killing of Iraqi civilians was not a big concern amongst contractors.
“Some of those guys just get off on killing,” he said.
Protected from prosecution security contractors have free rein to act as they wish despite Maliki’s protestations.
Is Maliki powerless to act?
Based on the current political landscape, those who oppose Maliki may use the Blackwater incident to erode his already tenuous political position further. If the joint US-Iraqi commission set up to investigate the Nusur incident finds that some of the Blackwater contractors opened fire without provocation, but are not punished or do not end up standing trial in Iraq, then Maliki could be seen as a US puppet and lose any political credibility.
Indeed, Maliki’s vociferous condemnation of the shootings and calls for those accused to face justice, despite his understanding that CPA Order 17 will make it virtually impossible to do so, is arguably an attempt to assuage public anger and shore up his political standing.
But Iraq isn’t the only country that needs to worry about Blackwater as they are now operating domestically fighting that other war, the ‘war on drugs’.