Depending on whether the Blackwater security firm stays in Iraq will inform us whether Prime Minister Maliki has any power or is just a U.S. puppet. My money is on the puppet. Over the weekend Blackwater contractors escorting a State Department/US Embassy Baghdad convoy got into a shoot out. Spencer Ackerman at TPM reports that:

Yesterday’s incident involved an insurgent attack on a State Department convoy in the Sunni neighborhood of Mansour in western Baghdad. Blackwater personnel guarding the motorcade returned fire — “to defend themselves,” according to a State Department official quoted by The Washington Post. A Post reporter on the scene in Mansour witnessed Blackwater’s Little Bird helicopters “firing into the streets.” Almost immediately, an Interior Ministry spokesman said the company’s license to operate in Iraq would be revoked.

First problem. Blackwater does not have a license to operate in Iraq and does not need one. They have a U.S. State Department contract through Diplomatic Security. Instead of using Diplomatic Security officers or hiring new Security officers or relying on U.S. military personnel, the Bush Administration has contracted with firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others for people capable of conducting personnel security details. State Department is not about to curtail the contract with Blackwater, who is tightly wired into Washington. Plus, State Department simply does not have the bodies available to carry out the security mission.

Second problem. The Iraqi government has zero power to enforce a decision to oust a firm like Blackwater. For starters, Blackwater has a bigger air force and more armored vehicles then the Iraqi Army and police put together. As Spencer Ackerman reported, Blackwater’s little bird helicopter (an aircraft normally used by U.S. special operations forces) that was firing mini guns at Iraqi targets on the ground this past weekend.

I can only imagine how Americans would react if there were Russian, Chinese, Mexican, or French security firms running around the United States and getting into firefights in tough neighborhoods, such as South Central Los Angeles. We would just shrug our shoulders and say nothing. Right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. This incident will enrage Iraqis and their subsequent realization that they are impotent to do anything about it will do little to support the fantasy that the surge is working. There are some Iraqis who genuinely want to run their own country. But we are not about to give them the keys to the car. Blackwater is staying.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
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  • The American people are reliving Nazi Germany where Hitler and his henchmen used special forces called Einsatzgruppen. This pseudo military force, Hitler’s own little private army or contractors, carried out
    operations in Eastern Europe from 1939 until 1945. Their chores included torture, murder, mutilation, rape, whatever–after all it’s war!

    America under the bush has become a fascist state (check the word in the unabridged dictionary and see its origins with Mussolini’s party). Americans must rise up against the tyranny of a madman, a stupid madman but also an evil madman.

    We can sit quietly and wait for the bush’s rapture that he, as God’s instrument (according to him, the messiah), is destined to bring about, or we can raise hell and possible avoid being herded into the bush’s gas chamber.

  • Bill Keyes

    Update on the Blackwater incident..

    Wounded Iraqis: ‘No one did anything’ to provoke Blackwater

    Iraqi PM: Shooting Was “In Cold Blood”

    What is amazing is that both these stories are from the US MSM.

  • Shirin

    Iraqi Report Says Blackwater Guards Fired First

    A preliminary Iraqi report on a shooting involving an American diplomatic motorcade said Tuesday that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman’s call to stop, killing a couple and their infant.

    The Mercenaries’ widespread (if not universal) utter disregard – contempt even – for Iraqis’ lives and humanity is so well documented as to not be even remotely debatable.

  • Brian H

    Jumpin’ Jaysuz! Wotta collection of psychotic loons! Reminds me of those anorexia sites where the skeletal babes encourage each other to get thinner …

  • Bill Keyes
  • Michael Gass

    and, I don’t think anyone is surprised, the puppet Iraq government is now saying they AREN’T banning Blackwater… just ASKING that they follow the rules…

    Everyone is right… they are just puppets to our government.

    • Shirin

      Surprise, surprise!

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  • when I related this story after the election, I was called a Republican, or snarled at for relating a tale from a Republican.

    after that TASER event… perhaps we might want to revisit this 21-year-old P.J. O’Rourke tale of Kerry’s Commanding Presence in Manila
    On Sunday night, two days after the election, thirty of the computer operators from COMELEC [the Philippine government “Commission on Elections,” appointed by Marcos and in charge of compiling the final vote tally] walked off the job, protesting that the vote figures were being juggled. Aquino supporters and NAMFREL volunteers took the operators, most of them young women, to a church, and hundreds of people formed a protective barrier around them. [NAMFREL–The National Movement for Free Elections–was supposedly nonpartisan, but NAMFREL members were strongly anti-Marcos.]

    Village Voice reporter Joe Conason and I had been tipped off about the walkout, and when we got to the church, we found Bea Zobel, one of Cory Aquino’s top aides, in a tizzy. “The women are terrified,” she said. “They’re scared to go home. They don’t know what to do. We don’t know what to do.” Joe and I suggested that Mrs. Zobel go to the Manila Hotel and bring back some members of the Congressional observer team. She came back with Kerry, who did nothing.

    Kerry later said that he didn’t talk to the COMELEC employees then because he wasn’t allowed to. [A bone-head Rolling Stone fact-checker sent the article to Kerry’s Senate office for comment. Kerry staffers were wroth and insisted the senator’s version of events be included.] This is ridiculous. He was ushered into an area that had been cordoned off from the press and the crowd and where the computer operators were sitting. To talk to the women, all he would have had to do was raise his voice.

    Why he was reluctant, I can’t tell you. I can tell you what any red-blooded representative of the U.S. Government should have done. He should have shouted, “If you’re frightened for your safety, I’ll take you to the American embassy, and damn the man who tries to stop me.” But all Kerry did was walk around like a male model in a concerned and thoughtful pose.


    hell, I GET RABID just trying to watch the amazing Holly Hunter play ‘good cop’ in that travesty, “Saving Grace“. *BLECH*

    “Spread Love…
    … but wear the Glove!”

    BlueBerry Pick’n
    can be found @
    “Silent Freedom is Freedom Silenced”
    Learn. Think. Believe&Act

  • rugger9

    Hmmm. Any update on UNRes 1511 and 1546? Are both of them satisfied and therefore moot?

    As I noted yesterday, that was the criterion (in Section 20 of CPA Order 17 of 6/24/04) that explicitly lifts the order and what’s in it.

    If there is a reference to the elections (I got that too) I’m guessing it is in there.

  • bob h

    Is Blackwater the armed wing of the Republican Party?

  • liberalbuffet

    My guess is,Blackwater is run and owned by the oil compaies and corperations.

  • JD

    Expensive mercenaries (payed with your tax $$$) that are out of reach of the law and only report to their CEO (with no oversight), how convenient for the criminals in power…

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  • anon

    The US was digging this hole when it decided to use mercenaries. The lust of profiteering and corporatizing in warfare was just too powerful.

    I, for one, hope the Iraqis maintain their blacklisting of “Blackwater” mercenaries – the murderous hired gun company should not be able to legitimately exist within the US, let alone work with the US government, and mercenary corporations should be viewed the same as international terrorist groups – and ultimately demand to arrest any Blackwater operatives continuing to stay in Iraq.

    It wouldn’t work out like that, but it’s time for the Bush Administration to learn what “sovereignty” means, and it would be great to see the Bush Administration show the Iraq “government” the back of the hand while continuing to claim to be supporting some sort of legitimate governing entity.

    al-Maliki’s government is taking a brilliant stand here, they are clearly fed up with the Bush Administration and the military occupation, and want to build up popularity domestically. al-Maliki probably would prefer to be an Iranian puppet, and this is a good move.

    • Shirin

      it would be great to see the Bush Administration show the Iraq “government” the back of the hand while continuing to claim to be supporting some sort of legitimate governing entity.

      I’m not sure what “show the back of the hand” means, but I guess it is some kind of show of authority, or control or something, and if so, how many times do we need to see this kind of thing? We have seen thousands of incidents in which the Bush Administration has claimed Iraq was a sovereign nation being run by a legitimate “democratically elected government” while simultaneously showing the exact opposite. Why should this be the defining time this happens?

      • Michael Gass

        For this reason:

        If you can put not tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, but a million people on the streets of Iraq denouncing the U.S. pressure… who wins?

        We have 168,000 troops in Iraq.

        1 million vs 168,000.

        IF… and I say IF… the Iraqi Parliament sticks by this… it is a sure sign that the Iraqi’s are TAKING their sovereignty back.


        • Shirin

          I appreciate your optimism. More than that I appreciate the spirit and the wishes behind it. But I do not believe that this latest from Maliki is anything more than that same empty posturing we have seen from him many times before. In his next weekly video conference meeting with his emperor in Washington DC, he will be reminded of who it is that got him into his current position, and who it is who keeps him there.

          The other part of this is that the vast majority of those Iraqis who ever did have hope that this make-believe government would be leaders worthy of following gave that hope up a long time ago. The pretend government is virtually completely irrelevant to them. Either that or it is the source of many of their troubles, since many Iraqis realize that the death squads who threaten them at every moment of the day or night come largely from their very own interior ministry.

          I don’t know that if a million Iraqis took to the streets simultaneously they would win, but I can tell you with virtually absolute certainty that it would not be the make-believe government that got them there.

          • Michael Gass

            It was Bush Sr. who put Noreiga into power in Panama… and it was Bush Sr. who removed him.

            Reagan was friends with Saddam, and it was Bush Jr. who invaded Iraq.

            Those who succumbed to pressure one day may not the next… history proves it.

            • Shirin

              Sorry, maybe it is the late hour and a long day with little sleep, but I am missing your point.

              A U.S. president put Noriega into power, and a U.S. president removed him.

              A U.S. president was friends with Saddam and a U.S. president removed and killed him.

              And this supports your argument that the Iraqis are taking their sovereignty back exactly how?

  • mullah cimoc

    mullah cimoc say ameriki so brainwash by usa media. usa soldier servant for him master in tel aviv.

    in true neocon agent in whitehouse and pentagon starting this the irak war with the lie and the spy.

    don’t fall for trick of carl rove, thinking him aemriki only patriot is support the war crime. in true so many ameriki hating the kill and torture and be him true patriot. this the patriot like geo. washington and benhamin frankling.

    when kill for him foreign master him just him mercenary.

  • First-off.. There is someone over at politico blogging with the hoosierhoops handle..that is messed up..I may have to change my name to the hoopster.. ( or met the guy at a stripjoint at 3am and let our entourages shoot it out ) Just kidding..

    Anyway..the ‘hoopster’ has an idea..shirin and leslie, tell me what you think..
    Since we are just throwing cash around in iraq..
    Let’s give the cash to the iraq gov’t and let them hire whatever contractors they want and control them.
    if they want blackwater and want to control them ..fine..

  • ziggyq

    No matter the company name, the powers to be will hire the same superior specialists to do the real work the cut and runners can not stomach.

    • Shirin

      And that “real work” would be, of course, slaughtering Iraqis at will and with impunity.

  • Joe1347

    Any chance the contractors will be turned over to Iraqi Authorities and charged and/or tried in an Iraqi court of law? No I didn’t think so. You would think that if the Iraqis really ran the country, the contractors would at least be rounded up and questioned by the Iraqi police. Instead the Bush Admin will put up a smokescreen and publicly state that they are reviewing the facts of the case and then of course do nothing.

    • Michael Gass

      The BBC report was that the Iraqi Interior Ministry ordered all Blackwater personnel out EXCEPT those who were involved in the incident.


      I am SURE Blackwater would fly out those people REAL quick to keep them from being tried by the Iraqi’s.

      • Shirin

        They will not be tried by the Iraqis. The CANNOT be tried by the Iraqis. Mercenaries hired by the United States government are not subject to the Iraqi justice system. Nor are they subject to the U.S. military justice system. They are a law unto themselves.

        The Iraqi make-believe Interior Ministry (aka Death-And-Torture-Squad-Central) can pretend to order anything it likes. Unfortunately, it has no authority, and does not possess anything remotely close to the power to enforce anything at all.

        • Michael Gass

          that is NOT true.

          I have already addressed this up in the comments.

          The “law” passed by Bremer is done… gone… it expired with the Iraqi’s passing a LEGITIMATE election and government. There is no report I know of where Allawi gave contractors continued immunity.

          I will not debate that death squads permeate the ministry… they do… and I address that in a post I authored.

          But, we are discussing contractors and immunity… and it just doesn’t exist anymore… or, at least, I haven’t found it.

          • Shirin

            I believe that Jeremy Scahill, who is THE authority on Blackwater at present, might take issue with you on that.

            As for the Iraqi make-believe government, I recommend that if you apply the word legitimate to it, you place it in quotes.

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  • Michael Gass


    I usually agree 100% with your analysis of an issue, but, I believe you are a bit off in this one.

    1) First problem. Blackwater does not have a license to operate in Iraq and does not need one. They have a U.S. State Department contract through Diplomatic Security. Instead of using Diplomatic Security officers or hiring new Security officers or relying on U.S. military personnel, the Bush Administration has contracted with firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others for people capable of conducting personnel security details. State Department is not about to curtail the contract with Blackwater, who is tightly wired into Washington. Plus, State Department simply does not have the bodies available to carry out the security mission.

    – Whether or not Blackwater has a contract with the United States is immaterial.

    2) Second problem. The Iraqi government has zero power to enforce a decision to oust a firm like Blackwater. For starters, Blackwater has a bigger air force and more armored vehicles then the Iraqi Army and police put together. As Spencer Ackerman reported, Blackwater’s little bird helicopter (an aircraft normally used by U.S. special operations forces) that was firing mini guns at Iraqi targets on the ground this past weekend.

    This is true, IF Blackwater simply refuses to leave Iraq.

    The misconception on U.S. contractors operating in Iraq comes from Paul Bremer’s edict about contractor immunity issued under the Coalition Provisional Authority and extension thereof; in June, 2004, Bremer issued an “extension” to that edict:

    Under an order signed Sunday by L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq, the contractors’ immunity provision covers “official acts that they perform in contracts in support of the Iraq reconstruction effort,” said Scott Castle, general counsel for the occupation authority. In matters unrelated to their contract work, they will be subject to Iraqi rules.

    The U.S. military operates under the UN Security Council resolution, but contractors are special and not covered:

    As an occupying army, the 138,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq have been outside Iraqi law since U.S.-led forces took over the country in April of last year. The troops will remain exempt in the future on the basis of a June 8 U.N. Security Council resolution and an accompanying exchange of letters between Allawi and the U.S. government in which Iraq requests their continued presence, according to a senior U.S. military official.

    As a result, there will be no need for an immediate status of forces agreement — the kind that usually governs U.S. military presence in foreign countries, the official said. U.S. soldiers will continue to be subject to U.S. military justice only.

    “We will continue to operate more or less as before,” the official added.

    But the status of civilian contractors has become a special question because the contractors are not covered by the Security Council resolution or the letter from Allawi requesting that U.S. forces remain in Iraq for an undetermined time. Moreover, they do not come under U.S. military jurisdiction (which has since changed) because they are not part of the military, although some are hired by the Pentagon.

    (U.S. Military Contractors operating in combat zones are now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Congress quietly made this change as part of the FY 2007 Military Authorization Act.)

    In that light, the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority has asked Allawi to grant the contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraq similar to that granted soldiers, said George Sada, Allawi’s spokesman. “They have made that demand,” Sada said. “We think it is a bit too much. It is under discussion.”

    This was to remain effective until the Iraqi’s established their permanent government (not the interim government) and continued immunity for contractors was REQUESTED:

    The Americans will still hold responsibility for security. And the interim government will not be able to amend the Transitional Administrative Law, or the interim constitution. That document outlines many civil liberties guarantees that would make problematic a declaration of emergency — something Allawi has hinted he may try to order.

    I have not found where Prime Minister Allawi granted the request, nor, that after the 2005 election in Iraq that established their permanent government any immunity was extended or granted to U.S. contractors in Iraq.

    The BBC is reporting, as of today (17 Sept):

    The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq.

  • What do Iraqis want more than anything else?

    something that gives them a sense of control & authority.

    That’s why women are self-immolating.

    That’s why Afghanis are using the opium they’ve grown for millennia…

    Depression from a sense of a loss of control.

    Learned Helplessness…

    but what might the ‘criminalization’ of Blackwater do for the infighting?

    provide a unifed outlet for outrage & a sense of ‘somebody’s ass to be kicked’.

    It might not be pretty, but declaring Blackwater illegal in Iraq is just what the Iraqi factions need.

    a common, focused enemy.

    Open season on Blackwater?

    damn straight… nothing like giving somebody something constructive to do with their well-stoked hatred & time…

    I’m not suggesting it would be PRETTY, but I am suggesting that it would be WELCOME.

    Spread Love…
    … but wear the Glove!

    BlueBerry Pick’n
    can be found @
    We, two, form a Multitude ~ Ovid.
    “Silent Freedom is Freedom Silenced”

  • no one

    A lot of people don’t understand what this means, but no USG employees are leaving green zones right now. Without blackwater security, diplomats and reconstruction workers can not operate. You make think all of these people are bad because they are mercs, but if anything positive is going to happen in Iraq it will be partly because these merc are protecting reconstruction workers.

    Now if blackwater does somehow get kicked out of the company, what does that mean? Does that mean that all blackwaters employees will be forced to leave? As of July 4th (give or take a week) Iraq has started requiring visas by way of letter from the embassy. They conceivably could kick out all blackwater employees that have entered the country since that date. If they just want to kick the company out, it probably would not be that big of deal to switch the contract to triple canopy or dyncorp and have them just hire the blackwater employees in the country.

    • Shirin

      The Iraqi government does not running anything. If the U.S. occupiers want someone to come into into the country, do you really believe the Iraqi wannabe government has the authority or the power to keep them out?

      On the other hand, the U.S. has the power and the will to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone they like, including foreign diplomats who are in Iraq at the invitation of and as the guests of the Iraqi make-believe government. To the best of my knowledge they are still holding Iranian diplomats whom they siezed (kidnapped might be an appropriate word) while they were in the country on the invitation of the make-believe president of Iraq. They siezed another group of Iranians while they were on Al guests of Al Hakim, and they grabbed them while they were inside Al Hakim’s compound. As far as I know they are still holding them too.

      Maliki can bark all he wants about revoking nonexistent licenses, and requiring visas, but it is just exactly that – empty barking with even less meaning than a dog’s bark.

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  • I just submitted this to

    here’s the link again (also my name link)

    the initial digg story that got front-paged was
    Blackwater security firm banned from Iraq

  • Teaeopy

    An NPR interviewee has just stated that some US Armed Services special forces personnel are leaving the military to earn more money with Blackwater. The administration seems to think such a career move is perfectly fine.

    • Shirin

      Is NPR pretending this is something new? It’s been going on since the beginning. I remember hearing reports about it in 2003.

  • fubar

    Maybe if the Iraqi’s start picking off Blackwater instead of our troops, they will get the message that they have crossed the line of morality and are no longer wanted there. Mercs are not the good guys like the old Chuck Norris movies made them out to be.

    • Shirin

      The troops have not gotten that message after close to 4,000 have been “picked off”, so it is doubtful the mercenaries will get it either.

      PS The occupiers are the bad guys in this piece whether they are U.S. military or mercenaries.

      • Delia

        This may be true in an absolute sense, Shirin. But in terms of catapulting the propaganda in the good ol’ USA, it’s going to be a lot harder to get the folks all teary-eyed over the mercenaries than over our troops, who have become a totem.

        I mean, look at the name — Blackwater — it was just created to make them sound like sinister, scary old bastards. How are they going to turn around and plead that they’re just good old boys who deserve a lot of sympathy at the same time?

  • Here is a video posted by C&L where “Blackwater” author Jeremy Scahill says it all in the first statement:

    “Well, the fact of the matter is that the Bush administration failed to build a coalition of willing nations to occupy Iraq and so instead the administration has built the coalition of billing corporations.”

    Exactly right. I commented on this last week (halfway down) after Madeleine Albright published her excellent editorial in the WaPo on how we could get from where we are to an actual solution. Unfortunately, it begins with this administration taking responsibility for its failures, and therefore has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually happening.

  • anon

    i don’t care who it is who escorts our “diplomats” in Iraq (there are no serious diplomats in Iraq, it’s an occupation) so long as they are either fully accountable to the Iraqi “government” (yeah right) or 100% subject to at least USCMJ (probably meaningless). i’d really prefer it was the armed forces at least, any group but mercenaries but the point is that there must be some form of accountability.

  • anon

    duly and respectfully noted. i get real, real touchy about astroturfing and product PR in weblog commentary. thanks for clarifying –

  • who wants private contractors to guard and escort our diplomats? It should be US Marines or the Army..
    Our armed forces are strained and don’t have the resources so we get contractors..
    Smells funny and again is another mess we got on our hands…

    Leslie: Any spare books 🙂

    • Shirin

      I don’t think it’s that you don’t have the resources. It appears that it is all part of a grand privatization plan.

      • Fred C. Dobbs

        Privatization has worked spectacularly successfully for the US Merchant Marine! When the knotheads decided to, “shift the paradigm,” they shot themselves (and us) square in the foot, although some very small, well-connected to DoD companies have been financially successful beyond their wildest dreams.

        What will happen next time they need 50 cargo ships and 20 tankers to haul bang-bang trash and POL halfway across the world? What if the Chinese don’t want their ships to play?

        (5,000 word rant deleted in the interest of brevity)

    • HoosierHoops,
      Well, I got two art books at another “bookout.” [I call them bookouts, when review books are left on a “free” table or in a box for the staff.] One book is about the artist Robert Rauschenberg and another about the photographer Nancy Graves. Interested? Email me if you are.

      Ooo, and besides the Naomi Klein book, there was Jack Goldsmith’s book called The Terror Presidency. Goldsmith was head of the Office of Legal Counsel starting in 2003. He’s a conservative who respects the rule of law . He argues in his book that Bush’s failure to “elicit trust and cooperation from the other institutions of our government has damaged his presidency and, perhaps, the ability of future presidents to respond forcefully in time of crisis.”

      It could be good.

      • Cee

        Ooooooooh, Goldsmith was the one who was threatened with more terror, right? LOL!!
        I also heard the interview with Naomi on Democracy Now this morning. I had to stop and sit for a while after that. You know this is going on but it hear it confirmed is sobering. 🙁

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  • odelisk8

    does this include the police forces? without question, it is very difficult to point to the center of power in iraq outside of the green zone…but certain illusions are necessary, and it’s one thing to be operating in iraq with the blessing of the iraqi government, and something else to be declared an outlaw…certainly this lisence problem is irrelevent to the blackwater execs…but perhaps things will be getting a little hotter there for the blackwater employee…on the other hand, is this a bone to the public at large? if we think that the iraqi govt is a puppet, then who is the puppet master pulling this string? has the US decided it no longer needs them there? sadly, none of us are going to be able to sort out the truth on the ground in iraq for decades to come….

  • rcobliber

    Hypothetically, if the contractor numbers are reduced in Iraq, at the least there will be no “scale down” of our troops, but it might be just the right excuse for the draft. Oops , I mean the non-gender biased mandatory service.

    Seems I read a few months ago that contractors (180,000) in Iraq outnumbered our military (160,000).

  • odelisk8

    what i would add to this discussion is this:

    you dont think the iraqi govt KNOWS all this already? of COURSE they do! so what is this about? this is a call to the people of iraq, the so-called insurgents, that it is OPEN season on contractors….

    • Shirin

      Odelisk, I would not discount your suggestion, but it depends on the Iraqi make-believe government having something it does not have in any measure, and that is the ear of the people, or any credibility with them at all. Even in the beginning in had little credibility, and now it has close to zero.

      • Delia

        Shirin, do you think this could be an attempt by Maliki to gain credibility with the Iraqi people? Or at least the Shi’ites? Or on the other hand, to distance himself from the Americans?

        • Shirin

          Delia, my sense is that this is not a calculated attempt to accomplish anything in particular. It strikes me as Maliki doing a bit of the kind of posturing he does from time to time to avoid looking as detached from the Iraqi people’s catastrophe as he obviously is. And like all his past posturing it will be followed by business as usual.

  • anon

    so leslie gets a free advance copy from the publisher if she plugs the book on the web log she has access to?

    • No, I got an advance copy at the magazine where I work. It was in a box full of advance “review” copies of different books, marked free to anyone who wanted them.

      The reason I quote Klein’s book, the Shock Doctrine, is because it’s really good, and it’s relevant to this post.

      By the way, if I wanted to plug the book on behalf of the publisher, I wouldn’t do it in a comment. I’d ask Larry’s permission to do it in the blog’s advertising section, and the blog would earn the ad money not me.

  • IntelVet

    I see very little difference between groups of insurgents (militias) and gangs, both informal (Crips) and formal (Blackwater).

    It seems they hang around polishing their equipment and sharpening their weapons until given a mission. Then, they are basically without command until the mission is accomplished (in their own minds).

    They provide privatized security, sorta what the US army supposedly does, for money.

    Is there any difference between the US saying, we will provide security in return for oil/embassy and a gang member knocking on your door laying out how they can provide security in return a a “deal”?

    • JimW

      That would also be analogous to a mafia protection racket. 😉

  • Delia

    Oh, I get it. We’re all being run by the Mob. Some are just getting more of the heavy-handed treatment at the moment, though I expect it’s all a matter of timing.

    I believe Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote a rather good operetta on this theme some time ago.

    • Comrade Rutherford

      Each and every war ever has only ever been about mob enforcer actions for the wealthy ruling classes.

      Here’s the words of a retired 2 star general:

      “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. … Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best that he could do was operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

      General Butler wrote that as he watched the world arm themselves for WWII.

      Everyone should read his analysis of The Great War To End All Wars (WWI), entitled ‘War Is A Racket’.

      • Fred C. Dobbs

        A gang of finance mullahs wanted GEN Butler to replace FDR in a coup. Showing a whole tunic full of character, Butler instead disclosed their power play to FDR.

        Lotsa cojones there, Smedley. We have seen precious few of your kind since.

        Does anyone know if Prescott Bush was one of the instigators? I’d be happy with a link to a decently researched work on the affair.

        • Comrade Rutherford

          type ‘prescott bush + coup’ into google and you get lots of webpages saying that he was the ringleader, or involved in some way.

          I would LOVE to see the documentation on that.

          Having read Edwin Black’s book ‘IBM and the Holocaust’ (about how IBM world HQ in Armonk, NY micromanaged the German subsidiary throughout the entire war, with full knowledge about how their pre-comuting technology was crucial to the smooth running of the Reich’s war machine as well as the camps), I completely believe that the pro-fascist forces found in the corporate board rooms would be against FDR.

          That is until they saw the huge war profiteering that would be had by fighting against Hitler.

          Many huge US corporations were instrumental in building the Reich’s war machine: Ford, Standard Oil, IBM, etc.

          Standard Oil, for example, gave the Reich the recipe for synthetic rubber (neoprene) and refused to give it to the US military!

          Mussolini once said that a fascist state has no use for peace and everything to gaini from permanent war.

  • Fred C. Dobbs

    Why the NERVE of those Eye-Rackies! What civilized country wouldn’t love to have a few thousand Cracker gun-freaks living out their Dodge City fantasies on their streets.

    (Oh, puh-LEEZE don’t tell me about the Blackwater operator who is a Warrior-Philosopher Rhodes Scholar that your barber’s cousin’s Mazda mechanic met in a bar in Hunt’s Point, and that characterizing all the Blackwater thugs is, “profiling.” Most of those people, and I know and have worked with about two dozen of them, are their own cousins…)

    • Speaking of inbred Cracker gun-freaks living out their Dodge city fantasies…the Pentagon wants to hire more of them. The surge is going so well that there aren’t enough troops on the streets.

      • rugger9

        It was one of the unanswered questions out of the hearings, and both Crocker and Petraeus needed to talk about it: Exactly what role will contractors play in security, and what regulations are they operating under?

        Any future discussion of the military forces in country needs to include all of the mercenaries as well. I have yet to see any “official” number on this, and it is probably no accident.

        The proconsul’s decree extended until the Iraqi national elections, which has happened some time ago, therefore it is no longer a valid basis for claiming immunity, especially for acts committed after the government was sovereign in the eyes of the WH.

        While I’ve seen some niceties being bandied about with respect to the effect of input by State (via Crocker), it is the put-up-or-shut-up moment for the Maliki government. And, while Larry is on target for the relative size and sophistication on Blackwater vs. the Iraqi security forces, they still need to be supplied out of Kuwait one way or another. As it stands right now, we’ve been fortunate that AQI is more hated than us. Once that dynamic changes, even Blackwater won’t have enough bullets for everybody.

        I would expect the Maliki government to say something on the order of “either Blackwater goes or you all go” because they will have no realistic option otherwise [anything else means it collapses for real, and Hunt Oil has already anticipated this by signing a drilling deal with the Kurds]. The WH has already gone on record several times that we are there at the Iraqi government request, and will leave if they ask. I expect them to ask now.

        I also expect the Iraqi government to demand the contractors involved. They have no other option after the previous trophy videos appearing over the last 4 years, whether by BW or Aegis or others. So, IF this is a sovereign nation, with a SOF agreement, that would be the governing document. I’m not sure what the SOF agreement is in Iraq. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if the BW personnel get detained going home for diversion to the Hague for war crimes, they are still bound by Geneva no matter what the WH thinks.

        What the WH does then will speak volumes about whether the Iraqis are indeed ‘sovereign’. There are serious consequences if WH flunkies do not treat the Iraqis that way, including more attacks targeting Americans and perhaps even a general insurrection as Iraqi matters are taken into their own hands. Did I mention the supply line?

        • Shirin

          “The proconsul’s decree extended until the Iraqi national elections”

          I do not recall whether that is the case with this decree specifically, but it is certainly not the case with most of the decrees made by Bremer when he was Dictator of Iraq.

          • rugger9

            Interesting point.

            CPA order 17 of 6/24/04 (TPM Muckraker has the link) in Section 20 calls for it to remain in force until the MNF completes its mission under UN Res 1511 (2003 regarding Iraq and Kuwait) and 1546 (2004 regarding the same). My bandwidth control doesn’t like it, but I would guess we aren’t done yet under those. for 1546.

            However, section 2 sub section 5) calls for the sunset of 6/30/04 on the immunity for foreign liaisons. Contractors are also addressed in Section 4 with no clear sunset, but a requirement in subsection 3) also prohibits serious misconduct and allows MNF personnel to stop them. At any rate the contractors are subject to the laws of their respective sending states (US, etc.).

            So, are 1511 and 1546 still in force? Can someone check that out?


  • Shirin

    You are quite right, Larry, though I would disagree with the “puppet” designation. The Iraqi “government” is a make-believe construction that does not even rise to the level of puppet, and certainly does not have the power to act on its own in any capacity. It is merely there as a pretense, and to act as a scapegoat for whatever failures can be placed at its feet.

    I would also add that persuant to an edict by L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer II, former Proconsul, Blackwater and other contractors are not answerable to Iraqis for anything, and are not prosecutable under Iraqi law or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They are free to act with complete impunity. Blackwater in particular is scary as hell, and not just for Iraqis.

    • Shirin,

      Surprisingly enough I agree with both of your comments on this post.

      I REALLY don’t want Blackwater in my home town.

    • Bill Keyes


      You made this comment a few days ago after Bush’s “speech”..

      “And it will be, as I have always known it was, up to the Iraqis to rid themselves of the American plague once and for all.”

      First of all I agree with you and everyone else that I know that all the reasons we are in Iraq are based on lies, our foreign policy of empire building, stealing the oil, etc. However after 4+ years if anything now the stupid American people are going to swallow the “permanent enduring relationship” as outlined by Mr Evil last Thurs.

      My fear is that since the Dems appear to be buying it its almost a foregone conclusion. And if this happens the antiwar movement here will have little or no clout, drop off the news and Iraq will not be an important issue any more. Yes troops will get killed and more Iraqi’s will die but it will just be “collateral damage” as the right wingers preach.

      So it would appear to me that there is little chance that America’s imperial
      ambitions in Iraq are going to change form this side. So what does it leave?

      Exactly what you said Iraqi’s themselves may have to get rid of the American plague (I like your choice of words) and join together

      However currently this would seem to be impossible because the American military has been successful with the old “divide and conquer” strategy keeping the various sects battling each other.

      I know that this may sound like I am over simplifying the problem but if the Sunni’s and the Shia’s would ever try to sit down and resolve their differences and include the Kurds, a unified Iraq could easily throw the Americans out or at least control the American presence rather then the way it is now the other way around. Maybe in an ideal world some American troops present would be helpful but only if a unified Iraqi Government not the “puppet” was in control and asked for it as our presence in other countries has been asked for.

      As far as I can see their has never been in four years a real attempt to form a meaningful central government. It has all be staged by the US. So if this were to happen the three sects should get together tell the Americans to go f**k themselves and form whatever government they want without ANY American involvement.

      Even though the Bushies wouldn’t like it, I would bet that every other major power in the world from the UN on down would gladly try to work out a diplomatic solution to the mess in Iraq. But it will not happen as long as the US can keep the turmoil going, and as long as the US IS the problem.

      So excuse the rambling but I really believe something like this would work especially if the rest of the world got off their fat asses and told us to go f**k ourselves instead of being afraid of us.

      What do you think?? Am I nuts??

      These remarks will probably get me declared an “enemy combatant” so if you don’t hear from again check the nearest Halibuton “camp cozey” and send me cookies or a cake with a saw blade in it!!!

  • Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviewed Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, today on LinkTV. [The Shock Doctrine has just been released to bookstores today, but I lucked out and got an advance copy.] It’s worth watching the interview, half of which is now posted on’s website.

    Klein talks about how Rumsfeld’s reorganization of the US military was built around the idea of redefinition and outsourcing–taking Milton Friedman economics to the ultimate level. The US military now is a brand, much like a commercial product. The brand’s purpose is to project US military might and the Bushie ideas of bringing democracy to the Middle East and, instead of nation-building, wiping the slate clean and rebuilding from the ground up. In other words, Bush’s Shock and Awe was aimed at wiping out at Iraq’s culture, not just Saddam’s alleged, nonexistent WMD or his regime. That’s why Shock and Awe targeted civilians and the cities, the infrastructure, etc., rather than just the military. It explains why Bush and Rumsfeld stood by while Iraq was looted. [Not that the Bushies planned on the looting, but that its occurrence wasn’t out of sync with the Bushies overall strategy of remaking Iraq in our image and providing the backdrop for Bushie economic experimentation, which includes hired guns such as Blackwater to enforce it. What Naomi Klein calls Disaster Economics, an integral part of the Shock Doctrine. The first part being Shock and Awe.]

    Hope I’m explaining this accurately.

    In her book, on page 417, Klein writes about Blackwater in Iraq:

    A right-wing journal in the US pronounced Blackwater “al Qaeda for the good guys.” It’s a striking analogy. Wherever the disaster capitalism complex has landed, it has produced a proliferation of armed groupings outside the state. That is hardly a surprise: when countries are rebuilt by people who don’t believe in governments, the states they build are invariably weak, creating a market for alternative security forces, whether Hezbollah, Blackwater, the Mahdi Army or the gang down the street in New Orleans.

    The emergence of this parallel privatized infrastructure reaches far beyond policing. When the contractor infrastructure built up during the Bush years is looked at as a whole, what is seen is a fully articulated state-within-a-state that is as muscular and capable as the actual state is frail and feeble. This corporate shadow state has been built almost exclusively with public resources (90 percent of Blackwater’s revenues come from state contracts), including the training of its staff…. The vast infrastructure is all privately owned and controlled. The citizens who have funded it have absolutely no claim to this parallel economy or its resources.

    The actual state, meanwhile, has lots the ability to perform its core functions without the help of contractors. [She relates this to what happened in New Orleans after Katrina and to what’s happening in Iraq.]

    What Bush has created in Iraq is a government and a state that can no longer function, yet it has all the trappings of a government and a state. But it no longer does the actual work. The private contractors, such as Blackwater, do that and at a profit.

    • Shirin

      Leslie, I heard bits and pieces of the Naomi Klein interview this morning, and I could not agree more that the idea was to destroy not just Saddam’s regime, but the state itself, the civil society, and the historical, societal, and cultural structure of the country, in order to restructure it from the ground up.

      Since 2002 Rania Masri, who is a long-time, very energetic and very bright activist (though she is only in her early 30’s now), and now a professor in Lebanon, insisted that reconstruction actually meant deconstruction and transformation. I concur.

      Robert Fisk wrote an article in 2003 describing the destruction of the state, civil, historical, and cultural aparatus, ostensibly by chaos, looting, and other criminal actions, which was in some cases far too systematic to be as random as it was made out to be. He described watching yellow (if I remember correctly) buses pull up to ministries, disgorge groups of men, who would enter the building, loot it, then torch it, and get back into the buses, which would then drive out of town. In this article Fisk posed the question that Naomi Klein addresses – what would be the point of deliberately destroying to the greatest extent possible Iraq’s civil structure, society, culture, and history, of not to raze it all to the ground in preparation for a total transformation?

      • We saw this in New Orleans too. And I can’t imagine the Bushies will stop with Iraq and New Orleans.

        • lidia

          The same is done to Palestina sinse the beginning of Zionism.

          • Centrocitta

            And the same is now happening to OJ Simpson. If OJ were Italian, 1/4 of his worth would automatically be reserved for his children, and not given to pirahnas like the Goldman family and their greedy lawyers. Furthermore, the dead Goldman son wasn’t totally innocent. If he had not been having an affair with another man’s wife before the couple was divorced, he might still be alive. Most likely the jury took this into consideration was OJ was acquitted.

            • Shirin

              O.J. Simpson?!!! Oh, puleeeeeeeze!

              • Centrocitta

                Shirin, apparently the judge sees it my way. He has already refused to turn over the goods to the pirahanas.

                • Shirin

                  It is simply obscene to try to equate O.J. Simpson’s very petty “troubles” with the unimaginably vast mass catastrophes suffered by the Iraqis or the Palestinians. I cannot even imagine what would cause O.J. Simpson to enter one’s mind in this context.

                  It is, in fact, deeply offensive to every true victim.

            • pd

              Hey Centrocitta, your’re shittin’ us, right? You can actually denfend this sociapath?

      • Cee

        I used to hear from Masri via email. I wondered what happened to her.
        What Fisk said reminded me of what I read about what happened to the antiquities of Iraq. It was like they had a list of what they wanted. The looting of the museum was a cover for the prior theft.

        • Shirin

          Rania is alive and well and teaching in a university in Northern Lebanon. She is still very active in matters concerning human rights, though that is not her academic specialty. I have been out of touch with her for some time, but was always closer friends with her brother, and am still in contact with him.

          Rania is quite a remarkable young woman. She is physically very beautiful, charming, has energy and commitment beyond what you can imagine, and is extremely articulate, bright, and well-informed.

  • mudkitty

    How can the government of Iraq be stable when they can’t even enforce their own edicts?

    • lidia

      how ANY puppet government can be stable?

  • The Interior Ministry’s demand that Blackwater be kicked out is analogue to the Iraqi Parliament’s demand that the occupation set a timetable for leaving. Ain’t gonna happen.

    • x

      This article comes from

      The Justice Department, acting through the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha, emerges from the record of the Franklin investigations not so much as a party to the cover-up, but as its coordinator. Rigging grand juries, harassment of witnesses, incitement to perjury and tampering with evidence -federal personnel were seen to apply all of those techniques in the Franklin case. (John W. DeCamp, Esq., The Franklin Cover-up, Second Edition, January 2005)

      Bless the Beasts and the Children

      Photographer for White House child sex ring arrested after Thompson suicide

      by Tom Flocco

      WASHINGTON—March 13, 2005——Photographer Russell E. “Rusty” Nelson was recently arrested two days after journalist Hunter Thompson reportedly committed suicide four weeks ago on February 10, according to two phone interviews with attorney John DeCamp last week.

      Nelson was allegedly employed by a former Republican Party activist to take pictures of current or retired U.S. House-Senate members and other prominent government officials engaging in sexual criminality by receiving or committing sodomy and other sex acts on children during the Reagan-Bush 41 administrations.

      Hunter Thompson’s death and the news blackout of Rusty Nelson’s simultaneous arrest raise questions that someone may be attempting to limit Nelson’s freedom or threaten him, since according to testimony, both men had allegedly witnessed homosexual prostitution and pedophile criminal acts in a suppressed but far-reaching child sex-ring probe closely linked to Senate and House members–but also former President George H. W. Bush. [In U.S. District Court testimony, Rusty Nelson told Judge Warren Urbom he took 20,000 to 30,000 pictures, 2-5-1999, p.52]


      Please don’t quote entire articles. Quote the part that’s relevant and provide a link to the rest. Because it’s rude to make people scroll through your comment forever in order to read what other people say. Plus there are copyright issues. For example: Why should anyone visit Tom Flocco’s website, when you provide the article here.

      I’ve deleted most of the article, except for the intro. If anyone wants to, they can read the rest by following the link above.

      • Brian H

        Hear, Hear! I’ve rebuked a number of people for toti-quoting, but they get real snotty about it. Commenters have weird ideas about their “rights” on other people’s blogs.

        As for the Blackwater issue: I’ve yet to see any info, reliable or otherwise, on the “persons” killed and wounded. If they pretty much got smoked with smoking AKs in their hands, then this is just another Al-Jazeera-type media manipattack.

    • Charlie

      In 2005 we had a lot of problems with contractors shooting up our neighborhoods as they blasted down Rt Irish. We had to deal with the aftermath of these “bad shoots”, so this was a very significant issue to us. We complained to COL Hooker, the commander of the 18th Corps Support Bde (he had jurisdiction over the contractors in our AO). COL Hooker became angry that we, a bunch of National Guardsmen, should question these professional mercenary organizations that were staffed with former active duty guys. He threw our officers and NCOs out of his office. I wonder how he remembers these series of incidents? I wonder if he lives with any guilt, both for the innocent Iraqis needlessly killed and also for the international incident that he let his personal prejudices all contribute to?