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Hessians Accomplished.

Blackwater grows murkier: It seems the private security firm in Iraq has a long and sordid history of troubling incidents to its name, and that the initial State Dept. report on the firefight of a few weeks ago was originally written by a Blackwater contractor. (Indeed, the State Department tried to intervene in today’s Congressional testimony by Blackwater head Erik Prince until forced to back down as a result of public pressure.)

How deep does this rabbit hole go? Salon‘s Ben Van Heuvelen traces the financial connections between Blackwater and the Bushies, while P.W. Singer, an expert on private contractors, explains what Blackwater has cost us all: “When we evaluate the facts, the use of private military contractors appears to have harmed, rather than helped, the counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S. mission in Iraq, going against our best doctrine and undermining critical efforts of our troops…According to testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has identified more than a staggering $10 billion in unsupported or questionable costs from battlefield contractors — and investigators have barely scratched the surface.

Outside the Law?

“The problem is that no one seems quite sure what law, if any, would apply to security firm contractors, and any potential applications are untested and would be vigorously challenged.” A murky incident involving Blackwater USA over the weekend, which resulted in the deaths of eight alleged Iraqi civilians, raises questions about the legality of private security firms working in Iraq (on whom the well-being of most American diplomats in the region depends.) “Should any Iraqis ever seek redress for the deaths of the civilians in a criminal court, they will be out of luck. Because of an order promulgated by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the now-defunct American occupation government, there appears to be almost no chance that the contractors involved would be, or could be, successfully prosecuted in any court in Iraq.” Needed or not, having privately-held American militias operating outside the bounds of the Iraqi legal system isn’t going to elicit much respect for the rule of law in the region.

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