The Washington Post is reporting that the Blackwater goons who murdered 17 Iraqis a few weeks ago were firing on Iraqi civilians as they fled the scene:
Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square on Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.
"It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting," said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa, whose soldiers reached Nisoor Square 20 to 25 minutes after the gunfire subsided.
His soldiers' report -- based upon their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police -- concluded that there was "no enemy activity involved" and described the shootings as a "criminal event." Their conclusions mirrored those reached by the Iraqi government, which has said the Blackwater guards killed 17 people.
Since the massacre, the military has been trying to undo the damage done by the jack-booted thugs of the criminal enterprise known as Blackwater:
In the hours and days after the Nisoor Square shootings, the U.S. military sought to distance itself from Blackwater. Dozens of soldiers went door-to-door to seek out victims, offer condolence payments and stress that the military was not involved in the shootings, Tarsa and his soldiers said. Their actions underscore the long-standing tensions between the U.S. military and private security companies -- and the military's concerns that such shootings, and the lack of accountability for the private security industry, could undermine U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.
"It was absolutely tragic," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division and the Army's top commander for Baghdad. "In the aftermath of these, everybody looks and says, 'It's the Americans.' And that's us. It's horrible timing. It's yet another challenge, another setback," he said.
One wonders how many Iraqis have been driven into the arms of al Qaeda, the insurgent groups or militias thanks to the brutal tactics of the Blackwater mercenaries and others like them.
Robert Bateman, who served in Iraq related his own experiences with Blackwater in the Chicago Union-Tribune:
As we approached one semi-infamous intersection along the main route used by Blackwater between the International Zone (a.k.a. the Green Zone) and the Ministry of Interior, one of Blackwater's convoys roared through. Apparently, Blackwater's agents did not like the look of us, the main body of cars in front of them. Their response was, to say the least, contrary to the best interests of the United States effort in Iraq. Barreling through in their huge, black armored Suburbans and Expeditions, they drove other cars onto the sidewalk even as they popped off rounds from at least one weapon, though I cannot say if the shots were aimed at us or fired into the sky as a warning. I do know one thing: It enraged me ... and Blackwater is, at least nominally, on our side.
Blackwater is literally a rogue nation all unto itself. It has a standing army and an air force, is building a navy, controls territory (6,000 acres in North Carolina), has a dictator (Erik Prince) and apparently isn't accountable to the laws of either the United States, the United States military or the countries where it operates like Iraq. About the only thing they lack is their own currency.
And, if you want to get a sense on how they are trying to transform their public image check out their new "Global Peace and Security Operations Institute":
Welcome to the GLOBAL PEACE AND SECURITY OPERATIONS INSTITUTE website.
Blackwater desires a safer world through practical application of ideas that create real solutions making a genuine difference to those in need.
The Blackwater Peace and Stability Operations Institute is dedicated to the public/private sector professional and to those organizations willing to work with new partners toward a common goal - solving the seemingly impossible problems that threaten global peace and stability.
"Peace" and "Stability" indeed. Let's ask the Iraqis how much peace and stability the Blackwater thugs have brought to their country. These people are a threat to everything this country stands for. They need to be stopped and the neoconservatives in the White House who are trying to privatize our military need to be stopped before it's too late.
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