Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
walker

The Iraq thread 4

Recommended Posts

British forces have left Basra and handed over authority to Iraqui forces.

Brown insists British pull out from Basra is not a 'defeat'

Quote[/b] ]Under cover of darkness, British troops have completed their pull out of their besieged base in central Basra.

The move to the city's airport is the clearest sign yet that Gordon Brown is paving the way for a complete withdrawal from Iraq - and it comes amid American accusations of a British defeat in Basra.

Today Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied that British troops had withdrawn from Basra Palace as part of a "defeat", insisting the move to Basra Air Station was an "organised" one.

Mr Brown said troops would still be able to re-intervene in Basra in "certain circumstances".

Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme if the move was a "pull-out in defeat... a retreat", Mr Brown said: "Let me make this very clear. This is a pre-planned, and this is an organised move from Basra Palace to Basra Air Station."

As of 4:30am this morning, all Britain's 5,500 troops in Iraq were consolidated in the sprawling base at the airport, itself under daily mortar attack.

Residents said they saw armoured vehicles leaving the palace in the early hours of today. Helicopters also took off and landed during the night. This morning, Iraqi soldiers were on guard outside the main gate into the palace.

Lieutenant General Mohan al-Fireji, the top Iraqi commander in Basra, said: "The British troops have pulled out from the presidential palaces.

"We told those (militias) who were fighting the British troops that the Iraqi forces are now in the palaces."

Iraqi soldiers manned the gates of the central Basra base built on the grounds of Saddam Hussein's elaborate palace complex. It has been a magnet for insurgent attacks, with daily mortar and rocket barrages.

People on the streets of Basra cheered the departure of the British.

"We reject any strangers and they are colonialists," said Rudha Muter. "We are pleased that the Iraqi army are now taking over the situation - we as an Iraqi people reject occupation, we reject colonialism - we want our freedom."

The MoD said in a statement: "Handing over Basra Palace to the Iraqi authorities has long been our intention, as we have stated publicly on numerous occasions. We expect the handover to occur in the next few days.

"The Iraqi security forces want to take full responsibility for their own security ... The decision is an Iraqi-led initiative and is part of a Coalition-endorsed process, developed in consultation with the Iraqi government, and follows the successful handover of several other bases within and around the city.

"UK forces will now operate from their base at Basra Air Station, and will retain security responsibility for Basra until we hand over to Provincial Iraqi Control, which we anticipate in the autumn.

"There remain a series of military tasks for our forces to provide in Basra, including further training of the Iraqi Security Forces, which we will conduct while retaining the capability to intervene in support of the ISF should the security situation demand it."

Downing Street said the withdrawal from Basra Palace was part of the continuing process of handover to Iraqi forces. Gordon Brown said Basra would move to "overwatch" as soon as conditions allowed.

He has insisted that UK forces will stay in Iraq to fulfil Britain's obligations to the government and people there and the United Nations. "There is no timetable for exit," he said.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty has agreed, saying Britain would not "cut and run" from Iraq.

Downing Street said that an overall reduction in troops in Iraq would "depend on the assessment of commanders on the ground over the coming weeks and months".

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, signed off on the order to withdraw last night, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

But the move produced an angry reaction in Washington. Bush administration officials were furious that the operation was launched at a time when the president is begging for more time for his "surge" strategy to turn the tide of the war.

The timing is crucial: The withdrawal comes a week before the expected release of a long-awaited report on the political and security situation in Iraq being conducted by Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Their pivotal testimony before Congress, due to take place on September 10, could influence future White House policy on the more than four-year-old war. The pull out, therefore, could lead to a serious rift in the "special relationship" with the US.

Britain's foreign and defence ministers published an editorial in a US newspaper last week rejecting suggestions in American media that British forces had failed in Basra and were set to flee.

Military analysts and some anonymous US officials have said that UK forces have allowed Iraq's gateway to the Gulf to fall into the hands of Shia militias - and that their withdrawal from the Palace signals defeat.

There are fears the British withdrawal will be accompanied by an upsurge in factional violence.

Iraqi army commander Khazaal al-Nisiri said he was confident the Iraqi army would be able to provide enough security without the British presence.

"We have recently seen intensive deployment for Iraqi security troops - this indicates that the Iraqi troops are in full control of the situation," he said. "So the British troops pull out won't cause a vacuum in the area."

However Colonel Bob Stewart, who led UK forces in Bosnia, told GMTV that critics of the approach "may be right" because Basra is still "lawless" after four years of British occupation.

Asked if the Iraqis would be able to take control of Basra, he said: "I don't think so."

Former Labour defence minister Peter Kilfoyle last night predicted a complete withdrawal of British troops by Christmas. He said: "The Americans are going to be very disconcerted by this move."

Labour MP Kevan Jones, who recently visited Basra, welcomed the decision to pull out of the palace. He said deliveries of supplies to the garrison had been "nightly suicide missions".

Charles Heyman, an expert on Britain's armed forces, told the BBC: "They (were) a long way from the main British base ... which is at the airport and re-supplying those troops in the city is very, very difficult.

"It is very dangerous and we've had a lot of casualties on the re-supply runs.

"You could dress that up with a bit of political rhetoric to suggest now is the time to hand over - but most of the people on the ground that I've spoken to and most of the reports that I get seem to suggest that the security situation in Basra is absolutely dire."

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said: "This is not an unexpected move, but the families of the personnel involved will want to know that every possible precaution has been taken to maximise their safety.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "The inevitable retreat from central Basra underlines the futility of the continuing British presence in Iraq."

The last troops in the palace were the 4th Battalion The Rifles battle group, which is based in Bulford, Wiltshire. They had been there since mid-May.

Basra is the last of five provinces in the UK's sphere of operations in southern Iraq which has yet to move to local Iraqi control.

In the others, British forces play only an "overwatch" role. That involves some training and supervision of local forces and a readiness to move in to support Iraqi military and police if necessary.

Kevan Jones, a member of the Parliamentary defence committee, said: "The operational reasons for being in Basra Palace were negligible, so the withdrawal is not going to affect the security situation. It will certainly reduce the number of our troops being used as targets."

Last month General Jack Keane, a former vice-chief of staff of the U.S. Army, said there was "frustration" in Washington at the deteriorating security situation in the British-run area.

The withdrawal means the end of a British presence in Basra for the first time since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Attacks on British troops have surged recently, with 41 killed in southern Iraq this year, the highest number since the first year of the war.

Basra, Iraq's second largest city and a riverside university city of more than 1 million people, is strategically vital as the hub of oilfields that produce nearly all the country's revenue. It is also a key centre for imports and exports.

The city has been torn by a battle for supremacy between Shia militias, including supporters of cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and groups backed by Iran.

Residents say there is now a fragile calm, but there are fears that the British withdrawal will be followed by an upsurge in violence.

It´s better to move out with your head up high, than being moved out with no head at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's the worst bit over with.

Should be downhill all the way from here.

Unfortunately the airbase isn't out of mortar range of Basra residential area's, so the 10 daily attacks for the last 3 years are unlikely to stop.

Hopefully they'll either be able to defend it indefinitely or build a new one further away from civil population centres.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There haven't been near the problems in the Basra area.  There may be area's that need to be secured by Iraqi forces but for the most part the withdrawl of the British troops and the transition of control seems to be a positive move despite what British and U.S. media are saying.  

Overall it looks like a job well done by our British Allies. notworthy.gif  thumbs-up.gif

p.s. It seems to me that many news papers and media outlets in the U.K. and in the U.S. do not support the war or the occupation in Iraq. They will do whatever it takes to make the occupation look like a failure. It's a shame that there is not a single cohesive purpose driving all of us to victory. The same motivation and drive we had during WWII or the first Gulf War.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Time to ride into the sunset, cowboys.

Bla bla, talk, talk....and no follow through.

What will actually happen.  Probably nothing.

***Edit

I may have to take that back. This seems story seems to be gaining momentum. Though public opinion does not seem to mean much these days int he US, if it gets heated enough in Iraq, it may force them out.

All depends on what strings US politicians and diplomats have left to pull in Iraq.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This quote from the article has nothing to do with the Blackwater incident but I must point it out...

Quote[/b] ]A UK-based polling agency, Opinion Research Business (ORB), said it had extrapolated the figure by asking a random sample of 1,461 Iraqi adults how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.

 Let me get this straight, they walked around Iraq randomly asking "Iraqi's" if some one in their house had died from violence rather than natural causes and then they believed their answers? I guarantee you can ask any Iraqi and of course they are going to lie about it and say yes. I'm willing to bet way over half of them were lying to begin with. Any that really did have some one die would likely be a liar any way as every one attributes any kind of death to the United States, "Grandpa had a stroke and died, it's those fucking cowboys I tell you!"

 Don't get me wrong many have died in Iraq as the result of the war, but that happens in all war. However I'm going to take any Iraqis story of death and sorrow do to the Americans with a bag of salt. They'll say anything.

 As for the Blackwater incident I'll wait until I hear more details before I pass judgement. In the end I give private military contractors more benifit of the doubt than I'll ever give to Jihadist, murderers and gangsters. In the end you have to ask the question, would the eight civilians have died if Blackwater was not attacked? It sounds to me like Blackwater was escorting something and was attacked, a fire fight broke out and some civilians died. That's war sadly but in the end the enemy initiated the fire fight, it's not like Blackwater went in and executed eight civilians. (if you want to find a group that intentionally goes in and kills civilians go talk to your Jihad heroes)

 We'll see though as more evidence comes out what really happened. It sounds like it may have been a mortar attack which is also a very strong chance that the eight civilians were killed by the mortars. Many times the Jihadist and their western sympathizers attribute casualties caused by the Jihadist to the coalition forces.

Quote[/b] ]Time to ride into the sunset, cowboys.

 What's wrong with cowboys? Have you ever eaten beef and did you like it? The few people I ever met that you might class as "cowboys" were all pretty cool hard working people. In the end what do cowboys have to do with Blackwater. Sorry but the cowboy phrase is lame, lose it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote[/b] ]In the end I give private military contractors more benifit of the doubt than I'll ever give to Jihadist, murderers and gangsters. In the end you have to ask the question, would the eight civilians have died if Blackwater was not attacked? It sounds to me like Blackwater was escorting something and was attacked, a fire fight broke out and some civilians died. That's war sadly but in the end the enemy initiated the fire fight, it's not like Blackwater went in and executed eight civilians. (if you want to find a group that intentionally goes in and kills civilians go talk to your Jihad heroes)

I don´t.

There have been a lot of confirmed incidents with Blackwater over the last years and none of them has ever been held accountable for the wrongdoings as a US imposed law for the transitional government in Iraq hindered prosecution. Now that there is no transitional government anymore this law has become obsolete and obviously the iraqui government is demanding what every other government would be demanding aswell. Punish those who commit crimes in the country where the crimes are committed. The fact that Blackwater is not employed by the US military but the State departement is another interesting thing as this changes their legal status on behalf of US jurisdiction aswell.

Quote[/b] ]The Blackwater incident in Baghdad, 2007: excerpts from an interview with Jeremy Scahill 9/19/07

Jeremy Scahill, author of the definitive book on Blackwater, has been back on the interview circuit thanks to the most recent incident in Iraq in which Blackwater employees fired into a crowd and killed at least 20 Iraqi civilians. What follows is a series of excerpts from a half hour interview with Scahill about Blackwater on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show.

For more background on Blackwater, its connections with the religious right, its development and growth, here’s an earlier interview with Scahill about his research and his book.

__

1996: Clinton and privatization

I don’t think that Blackwater saw a demand for the outsourcing of military work as much as they did for supporting the military through training. The Clinton administration was very much on board with the privatization agenda that began in full force during the George H.W. Bush administration. The moment Blackwater jumped into this world of military outsourcing is in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

After 9/11

When the CIA and other intelligence agencies began deploying inside Afghanistan in the early stages of US operations there after 9/11, they put out a call to all of their former special operators to try to come up with independent contractors. Eric Prince’s men at Blackwater were contracted by the CIA on a covert contract, a black contract. This sent a small team of former Special Forces operators inside Afghanistan where they were positioned near the Pakistan border and to my knowledge that’s the first time we see Blackwater crossing the line from being a training company to actually providing soldiers of fortune for hire to the US government.

…There’s a number of problems… Increasingly many members of Congress, most notably those on the oversight and intelligence committees have a problem with using these private sector forces. We’ve seen dramatically over the past six years of this “war on terror†an almost total lack of oversight of the conduct of these individuals. And they’re incredibly expensive. They’re paid much more than regular duty soldiers. And as we now see in Iraq, they’re not held accountable when they commit crimes and it has a significant blowback effect on the US military.

Blackwater’s presence in Iraq

There’s about 180,000 private contractors in Iraq, and the vast majority of those are not armed contractors like those who work for Blackwater. They cook food, they drive trucks, they do laundry. Blackwater has approximately 1,000 operatives deployed in Iraq – at least that’s what the company says. The primary function of the Blackwater forces in Iraq is to keep alive the senior officials of the US occupation.

What’s of enormous symbolic importance to what’s happening right now is that Blackwater isn’t just some company that the Iraqis are trying to kick out. Iraq is essentially saying, “We want expelled from our country the men who are guarding Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who protect Condoleezza Rice when she visits, who protect every US Congressional delegation when they come into Iraq.†They are essentially saying, “We want to remove the official mercenary force of the US government.†This is an enormous problem for the State Department right now.

Why Blackwater is protecting US officials

Two reasons. One is the official version and then one is the accurate version! The official version is that you have to free up every single soldier to do the actual fighting of the war. So when it comes to executive protection or force protection, you farm that out to the private sector. The theory behind it is that will allow the military to do the actual fighting of the war. In fact, during the 1991 Gulf war, Dick Cheney, as defense secretary, was a major supporter of expanding the civilian presence in the war zone to cook food for the troops, to do the laundry, drive trucks, etc., based on that notion – that we’re going to be able to maximize the force that comes out of our military. …I think there’s never been a study of the cost effectiveness of this, and also there are not effective legal mechanisms in place to hold those private sector forces accountable as there is with US troops when they commit a crime. The oversight problem here is tremendous. I really think it cuts across party lines. A lot of traditional conservatives are really outraged at this system. But what we’ve seen the Bush administration do is to take that now logistical support and actually turn it into armed combatants that are hired privately. That’s where some really muddy waters emerge. Blackwater’s forces have been regularly engaged in firefights with Iraqis. Civilians have been killed over the past four years. And Blackwater is just one of 180 mercenary companies operating in Iraq right now. This is a system very much out of control.

The other version? The Bush administration has clearly used these private forces as a back door way of doubling the size of the US occupation force in Iraq. It also provides the administration with a great deal of political expediency. The deaths of these contractors go uncounted in the official death toll and we know that more than a thousand contractors have died in Iraq, because their families have applied for federal death benefits with the US government. …US taxpayers end up paying death benefits to the families of some eligible contractors. But those thousand or so whose families have been approved for death benefits don’t represent the total number of contractors. The vast majority of contractors working for the US government in Iraq are indeed not American citizens.

Why don’t the armed forces just recruit more troops?

There’s a number of reasons why the military is struggling in Iraq right now. General David Petraeus himself, as well as Ambassador Ryan Crocker, said very clearly that without the private sector involvement in the war, the occupation would be untenable. I think a lot of people are disillusioned. They don’t support the war. This is a tremendously unpopular war. And so you don’t have people rushing to join the military now. Also, and I think actually this is the central point, this administration failed to build the coalition so-called of “willing nations†to go into Iraq. So what they did was to build the coalition of billing corporations. It raises a lot of questions about the democratic process in this country. Because if you’re essentially purchasing forces to fight a country’s war, what does that say about what should be the most serious task that a government could undertake, the waging of a war?

…You have about 165,000 to 175,000 official US troops. And then there’s approximately 180,o00 private contractors. Of those, we don’t know how many are engaged in armed security activities, but we believe it could be as high as 70,000, according to sources in the US intelligence committee in the House.

What really happened in Iraq the other day when so many civilians were killed?

Blackwater has been involved with a number of these incidents and their narrative is often the exact same story, “We were engaged in defensive operations. We were fired upon. We returned fire. We followed the rules of engagement. We were heroically defending American lives.†It’s pretty clear that Blackwater’s version of events, which is that all of those killed were insurgents involved in an attack on Blackwater, is not true. We’ve seen footage of the hospitals with victims talking about it. People who had been shot numerous times who tell a very similar story about Blackwater contractors simply opening fire and indiscriminately shooting at people. We now hear this incredibly disturbing news that when the firefight began, a woman and an infant were among the dead in a car that Blackwater’s forces fired on.

Playing devil’s advocate: why would the fire indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians, including women and children? Did the car ignore a stop order that their personnel gave, acting like a suicide bomber?

I think what we’ve seen is a pattern of recklessness on the part of these private contractors when they’re defending officials. This is not a new story. Often times Iraqis are driving. They don’t know what the “rules of engagement†of the private contractors are. They think they’re simply driving from point A to point B in their city. They veer too close to a Blackwater convoy. Blackwater decides, “We perceive a threat so we’re going to open fire.†And in this case, according to the Iraqis, they killed a couple of and their infant. I think the major problem here is that this is not at all a defensive operation that Blackwater’s engaged in. They’re at the vanguard of occupying the country and when the Iraqis are driving their cars down the street and fail to stop because Blackwater wants them to, and then Blackwater lights them up and kills a child with her parents, I think this is an enormous problem.

The issue of Iraqi sovereignty

This is going to be the first real test of whether there is any degree of autonomy for the Iraqi government or sovereignty. …When the Bush administration sent Paul Bremer into Baghdad, one of the orders that he issued was called “Order 17.†Basically, that granted a sweeping immunity to all private contractors operating in Iraq. It said the Iraqi justice system was not allowed to go after them or prosecute them. The Iraqis dispute the validity of that right now. They say the Iraqi courts should have the ability to prosecute any criminal activity committed by private individuals inside their country.

Is Order 17 still valid?

I heard from a contact in Baghdad this morning that one of the senior officials of the supreme court of the country is saying that Blackwater should be prosecuted in Iraqi courts, and that in fact the Iraqi legal system should have jurisdiction over this incident that took place on Sunday. So the Iraqis seem to be saying very clearly that Order 17 is not on the books anymore. This is no longer the Coalition Provisional Authority. It also seems like Condoleezza Rice is putting tremendous pressure on Maliki’s government to step back on this issue. I think she’s trying to send a message that the State Department is going to investigate it. What’s amazing here is that for four years this has not been a major story in the Iraqi press itself. Now it’s front-page stuff. Every Iraqi knows the name “Blackwater†now.

Many Iraqis, especially in early stages of the occupation – and it probably held true up until a week ago – believed that these private security contractors were Israeli intelligence officials from the Mossad, a very commonly held belief in Iraq because of the garb they dress in and the way they drive around the country. Oftentimes they wear khaki pseudo-uniforms. They’re not clean-shaven, as many soldiers are. They wear wraparound Ray-Ban sunglasses. Some of them have goatees. They’re very, very pumped up, tattooed individuals. It’s the essence of a sort of cartoonish Rambo running around Iraq. Blackwater has the reputation among other private security companies as being the cowboys of the war zone. Now I think Iraqis are realizing that these aren’t Israeli intelligence operatives. This is a whole other segment of the occupation and many people didn’t necessarily know who they were. Now they very much know who there are!

[They were believed by some to be] Central Intelligence agency, CIA people. In fact there’s an indication that when the four Blackwater men were ambushed in Fallujah in March of 2004, the people who attacked them believed they were actually attacking a CIA convoy and didn’t know they were private security forces.

Why aren’t these killings murder? They’re not soldiers, not in combat…

There is a law on the books in the US that would provide for individuals who are private security contractors in Iraq to be tried in US civilian courts. It’s a law passed in 2000 called “The Military Territorial Jurisdiction Act.†Basically what that says is that if a contractor working on behalf of the US government commits a crime in a foreign war zone, the US justice system can bring an indictment against that individual, bring them back to the US, and try them in federal court. That hasn’t happened yet in the case of any US contractors. It has happened, twice, in the case of non-armed contractors in Iraq where they have been brought back to the US and prosecuted. But those were not for any crimes against Iraqis. One is a KBR employee who is alleged to have stabbed a co-working in the kitchen; and the other is a man who pled guilty to possession of child pornography images on his computer at Abu Ghraib. But this is an important question. And in fact the Iraqis are saying that this is criminal activity and have labeled Blackwater’s actions in the past “murder.†So the Iraqis clearly want to prosecute them in the country. But normally, when a contractor is accused of a crime by the Iraqis, the company that employs that individual sneaks them out of the country so they can avoid prosecution.

I believe that if the Iraqi government is a sovereign government, Nouri al-Maliki should have the right to say they should be thrown out. That’s the big issue here: Maliki mistakenly thought he was the prime minister of Iraq, apparently, because the Blackwater men haven’t gone anywhere and he’s ordered them out of the country.

Is that because as long as Maliki welcomes the American military there, the US military has the right to hire its own subcontractors which is what Blackwater is?

That’s not accurate! Blackwater is not working for the US military in Iraq. Blackwater has an $800m contract with the US State Department. …There’s a functional difference. And there is actually a legal distinction. One of the loopholes in that law that I cited is that it’s written so that any forces working on behalf of the US military… Blackwater is working on behalf of the US State Department. The crisis here now for the US is that Maliki has essentially said that Ryan Crocker’s personal bodyguards need to leave the country immediately.

Blackwater landed its first big contract during the Clinton administration. Would Hillary Clinton be likely to scale back or possibly eradicate the Blackwater contract if elected?

Some of the Democrats may try to seize on this incident – and particularly because Blackwater is a very prominent backer of Republican causes and the Bush administration campaigned specifically to try to make this into a partisan issue. But the fact is that Hillary Clinton’s husband was very supportive of this same agenda. While Blackwater definitely has a partisan agenda, in terms of the personal politics of its executive, this system isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It was the Clinton administration that originally gave Blackwater permission to push its goods and services to all agencies of the federal government. There’s been tremendous bipartisan support for the privatization of the US war machine over the past 15 years. Certainly the Clintons were at the heart of it for a solid eight years in the White House.

Other contractors in Iraq ridicule Blackwater as “cowboysâ€

That description fits of the companies operating in Iraq! It’s no surprise that people working for a competitor of Blackwater would want to characterize them in that way. But an interesting experience I’ve had over the past several months is traveling around the country. I did about 35 cities. And I met many, many US soldiers who had just come back from Iraq. They are so disgusted with the conduct of Blackwater. They told me stories about how these Blackwater operatives make their lives incredibly difficult in Iraq because they go into a village, they shoot at cars that come too close to them, and the US soldiers have been trying to create good relations with the Iraqis there. The Iraqis don’t understand who these individuals are and then they carry out revenge attacks against official US soldiers. It creates a morale problem among the official US troops because the troops are getting paid significantly less than these guys. They see them running around looking like cowboys or “rock stars,†as one soldier told me. And nothing happens to them when they commit a crime. There have been 64 courts martial of soldiers in Iraq for murder-related charges alone. Not a single charge has been brought against any mercenary.

What about those other private contractors? Aegis, for instance?

Aegis? While I call Blackwater the most powerful mercenary army, it’s by no means the biggest mercenary force operating in the world. It simply has the closest proximity to the throne of the administration in the US. Aegis is a massive firm, set up by an infamous British mercenary named Tim Spicer. They have what’s called “the mother-lode contract†in Iraq. They run a privatized green zone within the Green Zone where they coordinate the activities of all the other mercenary companies, and they also engage in private intelligence services. There’s another British company that’s active in Iraq called Armor Group which has operations in 38 countries around the world. What we’ve really seen happen out of the Iraq war is the explosion of the private security industry to the point where you now have some companies operating in the world that have the fire power to take out some small national militaries.

How does Petraeus relate to all this?

Petraeus himself has talked glowingly about the contractors. In fact, General Petraeus himself has been guarded at times by contracted security. Right now in Iraq, three US generals are being protected by private security.

That license renewal problem: no other private contractor company has been denied license renewal

That story was broken by the Washington Post a couple of months ago. Steve Fainaru, who’s an excellent foreign correspondent for the Washington Post has been digging into this world of private military intelligence in Iraq. Blackwater, of the past eight or nine months, has been involved in a number of incidents that have created serious tensions between Washington and Baghdad. The first happened on Christmas Eve inside the Green Zone where an off-duty Blackwater contractor was allegedly drunk and shot and killed the bodyguard for the Shiite Vice President of Iraq, Adel Abdul Mahdi. The Iraqis have called that a murder and they told Condoleezza that they were trying to keep it under wraps because if Iraqis found out that a bodyguard for the vice president was murdered and that the company the bodyguard worked for whisked him out of Iraq so he could avoid prosecution, that they would be outraged. Then we have, this past May back-to-back days over a 48-hour period, Blackwater operatives engaging in firefights in the streets of Baghdad outside of the Interior Ministry that actually drew in Iraqi and US forces into a gun battle. A civilian driver is alleged to have been killed in that incident as well. Then you have this incident this past Sunday when as many as 20 people may have been killed. I think the Iraqi government now is saying that there have been at least 7 deadly incidents involving Blackwater killing civilians. It does seem now that they are specifically targeting Blackwater. I’m actually surprised at how forceful the Iraqi government is being on this issue. …I really had the sense that they’d have to back down after than initial phone call from Condoleezza Rice, but that does not seem to be the case.

What is Blackwater being paid?

Blackwater’s contract in Iraq to date has won the company about $800m. It began with an initial $27m no-bid contract to guard Paul Bremer in 2003. It’s been renewed a number of times and expanded. Nearing a billion dollars at this point for “services†in Iraq.

If you’re a top-tier Blackwater operator, meaning that you have a background in Special Operations, you can get $650 a day. At times the rate has been $1,000 or more. If you’re a former Colombian soldier hired by Blackwater to work in Iraq, you were told you’d be paid $34 a day. US troops in Iraq can make anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000 with additional bonuses a year, if you’re a rank-and-file soldier. If you go up into Special Forces ranks, you get closer to $70,000 ballpark. Clearly these guys are getting paid a lot more than every level of the US military.

The Blackwater incident in Baghdad, 2007: excerpts from an interview with Jeremy Scahill 9/19/07

The US claim for investigations conducted by them is more than ridiculous looking at the results they have produced so far in other cases.

The most prominent examples:

Haditha Massacre

Abu Ghuraib

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 What's wrong with cowboys? Have you ever eaten beef and did you like it? The few people I ever met that you might class as "cowboys" were all pretty cool hard working people. In the end what do cowboys have to do with Blackwater.

Language barrier.

In England, a cowboy is not someone who rides a horse and wrestles cows, it is someone who acts unprofessionally and cut's corners to get the job done.

A fiver says that despite Iraq being a "freely elected and soveriegn democracy" Blackwater employee's will not be deported. It's always fun to catch the lie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote[/b] ] As for the Blackwater incident I'll wait until I hear more details before I pass judgement. In the end I give private military contractors more benifit of the doubt than I'll ever give to Jihadist, murderers and gangsters. In the end you have to ask the question, would the eight civilians have died if Blackwater was not attacked? It sounds to me like Blackwater was escorting something and was attacked, a fire fight broke out and some civilians died. That's war sadly but in the end the enemy initiated the fire fight, it's not like Blackwater went in and executed eight civilians. (if you want to find a group that intentionally goes in and kills civilians go talk to your Jihad heroes)

We'll see though as more evidence comes out what really happened. It sounds like it may have been a mortar attack which is also a very strong chance that the eight civilians were killed by the mortars. Many times the Jihadist and their western sympathizers attribute casualties caused by the Jihadist to the coalition forces.

Here we go:

Blackwater faulted in U.S. military reports: paper

Quote[/b] ]WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military reports from the scene of a shooting incident in Baghdad involving security contractor Blackwater indicates its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

At least 11 Iraqis were killed in the September 16 incident, which has outraged Iraqis who see the firm as a private army which acts with impunity.

Citing a senior U.S. military official, the Post said the military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault.

"It was obviously excessive. It was obviously wrong," a U.S. military official speaking on condition of anonymity told the newspaper.

"The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP (Iraqi police) or any of the local security forces fired back at them," the official was quoted as saying.

The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official told the Post. He said U.S. soldiers had reviewed statements from eyewitnesses and video footage recorded at the scene.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting involving the same Blackwater guards minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square, the Post reported.

The FBI is leading a State Department investigation of the incident, which occurred as Blackwater escorted a diplomatic convoy in western Baghdad. The Pentagon and a joint U.S.-Iraqi team are also looking into the incident.

North Carolina-based Blackwater has said its guards reacted lawfully to an attack on the convoy they were protecting.

In previously unpublished remarks prepared for delivery at a congressional hearing, Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said the Blackwater guards "came under small-arms fire" and "returned fire at threatening targets," the Post reported.

Portions of the remarks dealing with the incident were left out of his testimony after the Justice Department warned Blackwater the incident was under investigation, it reported.

The Post did not say how they obtained these remarks.

Blackwater is also under scrutiny over other shooting incidents involving Iraqis.

Firing grenade launchers into a crowd without being attacked is a must-have. No ? whistle.gif

It´s so funny that the US now had to change the legal status of the mercenaries to be able to even hold them accountable for what they are doing. Seriously, what kind of fuckup is that ?

Up to now they were able to run and gun without having to fear ANY consequences worldwide. And it seems they had their joy with the freedom they were given...

As there are currently running at least 4 different investigations on the Blackwater incident, I am kind of curious what the outcome will be.

Place your bets:

- FBI investigation

- Pentagon investigation

- State department investigation

- Joint US-Iraqui investigation

I guess in the end they will conclude that there is no direct misbehaviour of Blackwater, but only the wrongdoings of a few...

Not that we haven´t heard that quite some times already with a number of other "investigations" that mostly ended with foul compromises or murders going out of the court with their head up high while some of the pack will get a slap. rofl.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all

In reply to Balschoiw

The important four things are in this section of your quote of the Washington Post:

Quote[/b] ]...In previously unpublished remarks prepared for delivery at a congressional hearing, Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said the Blackwater guards "came under small-arms fire" and "returned fire at threatening targets," the Post reported.

Portions of the remarks dealing with the incident were left out of his testimony after the Justice Department warned Blackwater the incident was under investigation, it reported.

The Post did not say how they obtained these remarks...

1) It appears Erik Prince may have been thinking of committing perjury but thought better of it.

2) The Blackwater guards fired first and received no return fire! Certainly Erik Prince was not prepared to say so on oath.

3) Since the preparation was apparently available to the justice department and they gave a warning and it will not have been in front of democrats it appears that the Washington Post has acquired another Deep Throat in the US administration.

4) A very important question arises. Who in the US administration and Justice departments were involved in the preparation of the Erik Prince's testimony? What are they doing coaching someone giving testimony to Congress, such action is illegal.

Blackwatergate anyone?

Kind Regards walker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote[/b] ]Blackwater's contract to provide protective services to the State Department

provides that Blackwater can engage in only defensive use of force. In over 80% of the shooting

incidents, however, Blackwater reports that its forces fired the first shots. etc etc etc

Nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeehaa!

Bang bang!

In the name of Freedom and Democracy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me get this straight, they walked around Iraq randomly asking "Iraqi's" if some one in their house had died from violence rather than natural causes and then they believed their answers? I guarantee you can ask any Iraqi and of course they are going to lie about it and say yes. I'm willing to bet way over half of them were lying to begin with. Any that really did have some one die would likely be a liar any way as every one attributes any kind of death to the United States, "Grandpa had a stroke and died, it's those fucking cowboys I tell you!"

Don't get me wrong many have died in Iraq as the result of the war, but that happens in all war. However I'm going to take any Iraqis story of death and sorrow do to the Americans with a bag of salt. They'll say anything.

.....What's wrong with cowboys? Have you ever eaten beef and did you like it? The few people I ever met that you might class as "cowboys" were all pretty cool hard working people. In the end what do cowboys have to do with Blackwater. Sorry but the cowboy phrase is lame, lose it.

I'm afraid the world is far more complex then then U.S.A = Good and just and Iraq = bad. "I bet they're lying" is just a tinge odd, not to mention unfounded.

"People die in war". Oh well that's life, war is war, can't be helped. Yes a war that the USA STARTED FOR NO FUCKING REASON!! I imagine that you'll reply with some crap about "Oh so you support the terrorist then". It's not that simple. If the USA is unhappy with the number of evil people in Iraq, maybe they should fuck off back home then

I hope the USA LEARNS something from this and stays the fuck out of other peoples countries, for once. Slaughtering thousands in the name of democracy, when hardly anybody bothers to turn up to vote in the USA.

I meant cowboy in the manner explained by Baff1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding Turkey moving into Northern Iraq to pursue rebels:

Quote[/b] ]State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the attacks were a "source of deep concern" for the Iraqis, Turks and the U.S. He urged Iraq and Turkey to cooperate against terrorists.

"If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it, and I'm not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go," he said. "Sovereign states make decisions about how best to defend themselves. We have counseled, both in public and private, for many, many months, the idea that it is important to work cooperatively to resolve this issue."

I think my head just exploded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The US really has a big problem over there.

If the US stays there and chooses to stay neutral. Certainly they would become "human shields" for Kurdish forces. In the end I think it will result in one of the 3 scenario's:

1. If the US decides to support Turkey, then they would have troubles with the local Kurds.

2. Vice versa if the US decides to support the Kurds.

3. The US pulls out all his forces from northern Iraq. However, it would be possible that it would only move the conflict more south unless the Kurds cannot find any refuge in the south.

Personally I think it will be scenario 4 as it allows the US to reduce military spending and concentrate more on the conflict(s) in southern Iraq.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More bad news for The Bush Administration.

Quote[/b] ]In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former commander of American forces there called the Bush Administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result is "a nightmare with no end in sight".

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush Administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan"......

Read the whole article here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Incompetence is just the beginning of it. There's alot more to it than just stupidity at the leadership level. There's alot of plain callous disregard for the ground situation in Iraq with alot of senior govt and military leadership.

As for this whole blackwater incident, I know damn well that most of what we read is either misreported or made up.

Oh well, I've learned to live with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can remember some years ago at the very start of the invasion of Iraq I predicted exactly the scenario we have today with turkey in this thread along with other predictions that also became true, like the civil war in Iraq, the clash of the fractions, the interference of Iran, etc, etc.

By that time I got laughed at and noone believed that this would ever happen...

Funnily enough all that guys and girls today avoid this thread like the devil avoids holy water.

whistle.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can remember some years ago at the very start of the invasion of Iraq I predicted exactly the scenario we have today with turkey in this thread along with other predictions that also became true, like the civil war in Iraq, the clash of the fractions, the interference of Iran, etc, etc.

By that time I got laughed at and noone believed that this would ever happen...

Funnily enough all that guys and girls today avoid this thread like the devil avoids holy water.

whistle.gif

Well, it definitely sounds like a good deal to me... Let Turkey take over the whole country, finally allowing full withdrawal of U.S. and British forces out of Iraq... I wouldn't know why the U.S. would criticise it in any way - I'm sure they'd just pull their troops around the oil fields to insure that they keep the oil - and that's when it starts to get interesting...

P.S.: Balschoiw, you wouldn't know the number of the next lottery win, would you? wow_o.gif I could use it... tounge2.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now can someone explain to me what will happen if the US had joint patrols with Turkey and Iraq near the boarder? I want to say the Iraqis and Turks aren't too close. After all, the Turks are used to an Iraqi leader that suppressed the Kurds.

But seriously, if you think Iraq is going through a civil war now then you're overdramatizing this way too much. You have a better chance of being in a car wreck in the United States than being injured by an IED in Iraq. Not to mention that the incidents are becoming even more isolated. Does it sound like the United States is cracking down on crazy teen drivers or old farts who cant see over the dash? Why not? in everyone else's eyes they should be banning automobiles all together and start suing the car factories. Shit! just look at the numbers. US Highway Deaths compared to all 4 years of the Iraq War. Well look around. There was more alcohol related crashes that occurred from 6 to noon in the US then there has been Iraqi War Casualties. Damn! we should ban alcohol- wait, DONT DO THAT!!!

Anyways, I'm off for chow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×