19.9.07

September 11th, the Iraq War, and the Unregulated Security Business

"Blackwater is the most notorious example of this secretive, unregulated business sector. Founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, the Christian conservative beneficiary of a multi-million-dollar inheritance and a former Navy SEAL, the firm currently has about 2,300 mercenaries stationed in nine countries, of which about 1,000 are stationed in Iraq. There are another 20,000 Blackwater employees in reserve.
By its own description, Blackwater strives to achieve an honorable goal: "to support security, peace, freedom and democracy everywhere." In the firm's early days, however, their actual achievements lagged far behind that lofty creed.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, Prince told the conservative news channel Fox News, "I've been operating in the training business now for four years and was starting to get a little cynical on how seriously people took security." He added that "the phone is ringing off the hook now."
The callers included the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US Department of State and the Pentagon. Soon Blackwater had secured government contracts worth almost a billion dollars -- often without any competition. The company's headquarters in the marshes of North Carolina soon mushroomed into the world's largest military base, complete with shooting ranges, ghost cities to train urban combat, an artificial lake and a runway.
Blackwater's main client is the US Department of State --- the company has been protecting US diplomats in Iraq since 2003. The firm also provides bodyguards for Congressmen and women visiting Iraq."

"Above the Law?
It was not the first time that Blackwater -- or one of the hundreds of other security contractors in Iraq -- made the headlines. Indeed, individual firms have been sent back to the United States, usually without facing any penalties for misdeeds. Each time, the storm settled again soon afterwards. And each time, the mercenaries continued their patrols. They have long become indispensable, the "whores of war." That, in any case, is what Katy Helvenston -- the mother of Blackwater employee Scott Helvenston, who was killed in Fallujah in 2004 -- called them. Helvenston believes the company's stinginess and greed is partly to blame for her son's death.
But today, no one in Iraq can do without private security contractors any more -- neither the US military nor the diplomatic corps."
..."Iraq's government is not formally authorized to discipline security firms like Blackwater or even banish them from the country. Backed by Washington, Blackwater's men operate in a legal gray zone. They are immune to Iraqi law -- and at the same time they are largely left in peace by US courts should they be sent home."

3 comments:

M Bashir said...

left you this comment on GVO latest roundup, but in case you couldn't see it:

Sophia:
Beirut Spring’s response to the source of his quotation is: “The opposition comment was just a comment from someone on Beirut To The Beltway’s last post.”

M Bashir said...

a follow-up on my previous message: the commentator beirut spring mentioned signs his comments at beirut to the beltway as "lover".

Sophia said...

Many thanks Moussa.

 
Since March 29th 2006