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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Holding Blackwater responsible

Opinion-Holding Blackwater responsible

blackwater“There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.”

Buffalo Springfield’s classic “For What It’s Worth” could not be more applicable to the latest in a string of calamities by one security firm in the Middle East.

Blackwater USA, a military contractor charged with protecting diplomats in war-ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan, is embroiled in another in a growing list of debacles.

While traveling through Baghdad’s Nusoor Square, a convoy of Blackwater employees opened fire killing 17 civilians and wounding 24 others Sept. 16.

The Moyock, N.C., based firm was recently found responsible for the deaths of three servicemen during an air transport and has been implicated in arms trading in Iraq, the latter of which the company has denied.

Erik Prince, Blackwater CEO and founder, said the security team acted lawfully to what he said was an attack by insurgents in the square. However, a senior Iraqi investigator and witnesses said the act was unprovoked, noting that as the team entered the square, they “seemed nervous, were driving in the wrong direction and fired several shots in the air attempting to scare people away.”

The shadow army conducts operations with impunity in Iraq through Order 17.

The order, signed by, L. Paul Bremer, former Coalition Provisional Authority head, states civilian contractors are not liable or subject to any disciplinary action under Iraqi law, meaning even though they were “kicked out” of the country by Parliament, they did not have to leave.

In essence, they are immune from any action that would otherwise be considered criminal in America.
A recent House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing found Blackwater had been involved in nearly 200 firearm-related incidents. In more than 80 percent of the cases, evidence revealed the firm fired first.

Prince argued that his employees fire only when fired upon. Yet many, including Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn), disagree.

Shays said Blackwater “has a reputation of being a bit of a cowboy” following allegations the contractors were trigger-happy mercenaries.

While Congress, the State Department and Prince get out their rulers, the Blackwater headache is becoming a migraine for military commanders by slowly erasing trust in the U.S. and endangering future diplomatic conversations in the region.

Unfortunately, the Iraqi population has a new fear instilled in them, as they believe Blackwater and the U.S. military are one in the same and they are becoming indiscriminate targets of “American terrorism.”
Blackwater says it performs professionally in its tasks; on the contrary, they are becoming proficient in realizing an insurgent leader’s dream: garnering recruits.

The tragedy within the tragedy is our tax dollars are funding Blackwater’s operations making American citizens inadvertently culpable for their mistakes.

Yet until we firmly demand our leadership hold Blackwater accountable, we will continue to earn the distrust of the world population that once saw America as a shining beacon upon a hill.

In the meantime, while Blackwater maintains its innocence, frightened Iraqis see only “a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware.”

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