The streets of Iraq are full with all kinds of dangers that Iraqi citizen used to live with like car bombs, EIDs, random killing, and private security companies that some of their members kill Iraqis in cold blood. I know some people may not accept these words but this is the truth that we saw in Al Nosoor square and in the last incident of Arasat, part of Karrada neighborhood.
Few days ago, I was about to face the same fate of the innocent civilians in Al Nosoor square when my bad luck put me in intersection with one of the security companies but Allah save me when they hardly stopped their vehicles that almost hit my car but they didn’t kill me .... Yes they didn't kill me .... Oh God that is great. I'm alive. I was driving my car near a high way when four vehicles (4 wheel drive vehicles) came from the high way. They were in my side (driving in the wrong side) and they faced me. I didn't expect them because I didn't expect to see cars coming in the wrong side on a high way. There was a sedan car leading the convoy and covered faces men waving to the cars. At the last moment, I saw them. I cant describe my condition but all I can say is (I was totally lost). I was so confused to the extent that I stopped my car in the intersection.
The above is from "The permanent danger," Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers) -- the blog written by their Iraqi correspondents and the above was by one of their female correspondents.
You rarely hear anything about the Iraqi perspective. Gwen and the gas bags on Washington Week (along with others) take it for granted that US paid mercenaries have a right to come first, have a right to expect all traffic to stop for them, etc. Of course, with Erick Prince manufacturing armored cars to be driven in the US, they may regret their short-sighted and xenophobic ways some days. That is among the revelations in August Cole's "Blackwater Vies for Jobs Beyond Guard Duty" (Wall St. Journal):
Even as Blackwater USA seeks to extricate itself from a firestorm over the conduct of its private-security forces in Iraq, company founder Erik Prince is laying plans for an expansion that would put his for-hire forces in hot spots around the world doing far more than guard duty.
Blackwater faces criticism in the wake of a Sept. 16 shooting by the company's guards that the Iraqi government says killed 17 civilians, a crisis that appears to threaten the company's livelihood. Yet at Blackwater's headquarters here, where the sound of gunfire and explosions is testament to the daily training of hundreds of law-enforcement and military personnel, Mr. Prince's ambition is on display.
Mr. Prince wants to vault Blackwater into the major leagues of U.S. military contracting, taking advantage of the movement to privatize all kinds of government security. The company wants to be a one-stop shop for the U.S. government on missions to which it won't commit American forces. This is a niche with few established competitors, but it is drawing more and more interest from big military firms.
Erik Prince took to everything but the Home Shopping Network yesterday to try to spin the murder of innocent Iraqis at the hands of his mercenaries. It's big business and Prince isn't about to let the dollars slip out of his greedy hands. BBC notes: "The chairman of the US private security firm, Blackwater, has insisted he has proof its guards were fired upon in the fatal shooting of 17 Iraqis last month." Prince has proof! Yeah, whatever. He's read some incident reports, some company incident reports. Maybe the US embassy wrote them for Blackwater to pay Blackwater back for writing the original report the US embassy passed off as their own? In other big business news, Gillian Wong's "Oil Prices Hold Near Record Levels" (AP) announces there's still money to be made even as Turkey and northern Iraq veer ever closer on direct combat (as opposed to quick raids and shellings).
Back to Blackwater, Julian E. Barnes' "America's own unlawful combatants?" (Los Angeles Times) deals with the issue of legality:
As the Bush administration deals with the fallout from the recent killings of civilians by private security firms in Iraq, some officials are asking whether the contractors could be considered unlawful combatants under international agreements.
The question is an outgrowth of federal reviews of the shootings, in part because the U.S. officials want to determine whether the administration could be accused of treaty violations that could fuel an international outcry.
But the issue also holds practical and political implications for the administration's war effort and the image of the U.S. abroad.
If U.S. officials conclude that the use of guards is a potential violation, they may have to limit guards' tasks in war zones, which could leave more work for the already overstretched military.
Unresolved questions are likely to touch off new criticism of Bush's conduct of the unpopular Iraq war, especially given the broad definition of unlawful combatants the president has used in justifying his detention policies at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Blackwater, August Cole's article tells you, is all excited to begin using their mercenaries in wars that the US doesn't want to send the US military to fight. Questions over the issue of legal status would put a crimp in Erik Prince's plans.
the los angeles times
julian e. barnes