Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blackwater Drunken War Games in Bahdad Hotel

So today here's a story about Blackwater from a journalist who worked in Baghdad in the summer of 2003, staying at a hotel where Blackwater also housed some of it's mercenaries:

Over time, however, our Blackwater pals wore out their welcome. I can’t pinpoint when it happened. Was it one too many beer-drenched party that upset the Iraqi families who lived in neighboring homes? Was it the parade of young Iraqi prostitutes that crept out of their rooms when the sun rose? Was it when their speeding SUV convoys began cutting down any Iraqi with the misfortune to block their path?

Our own security adviser, an older Brit who sneered at what he considered Blackwater’s unprofessional behavior, was conducting his rounds late one night when he noticed shadowy figures lurking about the hotel. From his balcony, he later told me, he observed the fully armed, camouflaged men creeping around corners as if ready to attack. Alarmed, our guard took the safety lock off his weapon and prepared to fire.

Then he realized it was the Blackwater boys, apparently drunk and playing war games after dark. Our security adviser was livid and lodged complaints with the hotel. I don’t remember whether he also contacted Blackwater. In any case, this wasn’t the first time managers had received such gripes and the Blackwater team was kicked out.

Hannah Allam goes on to tell of frequent encounters with Blackwater around Baghdad, where they hasseled local Iraqi civilians. One Blackwater mercenary told her that he was there for the six-figure-income, and a chance to guard Victoria Secret models at the the lingerie company’s annual fashion show. Hannah goes on to relate her own tail of running into a mercenary-escorted convoy on the streets. The mercenaries sped up behind them and forced them off the road with the threats of their guns, before speeding off. Although neither she or her Iraqi friends have a clear memory of having seen the company's logo, they always referred to it as "Blackwater." Hannah has one last encounter to share, and this time it involved Blackwater:

A few months later, I was dropped off at the gates of the Green Zone to meet a security contractor friend who worked for a Blackwater rival. I sat in the car with my Iraqi driver, waiting for my American friend to show up and escort me into the Green Zone, when a convoy of SUVs suddenly blazed onto the scene. Gunners hung out the windows, shouting for the Iraqi civilians to “move!” An Iraqi man failed to get out of the way in time. My driver and I watched as the security guards fired a single shot through his windshield.

The convoy was gone by the time the Iraqi man’s car door opened. He stumbled out, clutching his bleeding chest, and collapsed on the street. Other Iraqis loaded the shooting victim into a car and left for the hospital just as my American friend showed up. My friend shared my outrage and made it his personal mission to track down the convoy and force the contractors to file an incident report.

Although her American friend helped her track down Blackwater accross the Green Zone, neither could work up the courage to actually confront them. They trailed them inside, where instead of going to report having shot an Iraqi civilian to death, the Blackwater mercenaries went straight for the salad bar.

Blackwater may be able to get away with murder in Iraq, but it is facing money problems here at home. Turns out, one of Hillary Clinton's key pollsters runs the PR company providing guidance to Blackwater in the weeks leading up to last week's congressional hearings. The Spokesmans-Review in Spokane reports that the shootings in Nisour Square have held up Blackwater's purchase of an Idaho police training company. Not all everything is gloomy however, as the "we swear we don't work for Blackwater blog "Blackwater Facts has run with the story about Blackwater's purchase of a 183-ft ship called the McArthur.

There's a Blackwater employee running for Congress. Although these plans were announced some time ago, Blackwater is displaying photographs of it at the annual Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) meeting going on today. What can be done about Blackwater? About the corrosion of the authority of government where the powers of war can be bought by campaign contributors? So far, the only statement on any of the Democratic candidates websites is one on John Edwards.

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Anonymous said...

I am tired of everyone bashing Blackwater. They are the soldiers that we need there to do the things that our forces cannot. When terrorist dragged our soldiers thru the street in Mogadiesh I heard less complaints. LET THEM DO WHAT THEY KNOW BEST . EVEN THE SCORE.

11:35:00 PM  
Blogger omelas said...

This is exactly why we don't need Blackwater. Even the score? By shooting innocent people who are driving to work? By shooting law enforement officers?

Blackwater isn't assigned to any task that our well trained and professional soldiers can't do. Guard a convoy? Drive down the road? Our soldiers are capable of doing those simple tasks, thank you. Nice to see that you think they are so stupid and don't support our troops.

Terrorists did not attack that Blackhawk helicopter in Somalia. Drug gangs did. Are you that brain washed?

Let's hope the military doesn't get it's intel from you.

8:20:00 AM  

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