As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Perpetuity of "Things We All Recognize Should Be Dissolved, But Won't"

Blackwater is absolutely staying in Iraq, and the Iraqi government has essentially been blackmailed into it:

An Iraqi official conceded Sunday that Blackwater USA's exit would create a "security vacuum" in Baghdad and said the U.S. and Iraq were instead working on revamping regulations governing private security companies after a deadly shooting of civilians.

Following the Sept. 16 Nisoor Square shooting, the Interior Ministry banned Blackwater from operating in Iraq, but rolled back after the U.S. agreed to a joint investigation. The company resumed guarding a reduced number of U.S. convoys on Friday.

But officials said new rules have to be put in place to govern the behavior of the security companies.

"If we expel this company immediately there will be a security vacuum that will demand pulling some troops off the battlefield," Tahseen Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for the seven-month-old offensive against militants in Baghdad and surrounding areas. "This will create a security imbalance in securing Baghdad."

And if you let them stay, there will be a security vacuum from rising anger by Iraqi civilians who Blackwater mercenaries are shooting at with impunity. This will end up endangering the very troops you can't "pull off the battlefield," as attacks against them will now be encouraged by the population. I expect a spike in American deaths in the coming weeks.

Senator Obama is drafting legislation to close the legal loophole and at least make contractors and security personnel responsible for misconduct. Which would be nice, but doesn't solve the problem of a hated enemy of the Iraqi people as part of the occupation force in the country.

Another thing not going anywhere for a while... Guantanamo.

A lightning rod for international criticism, the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, not long ago appeared headed for closure. President Bush and his top advisors said they wanted to shutter the controversial lockup.

But the latest attempt to shut it down is facing collapse: The detention facility has been embraced by many Republicans as a potent political symbol in their quest to seize the terrorism issue ahead of next year's elections.

GOP presidential candidates have jockeyed to demonstrate their support for the prison. One candidate has called for doubling its use. Another praised the menu and health plan offered to detainees.

The Senate Republican leader has accused Democrats of wanting to move terrorists "into American communities."

And the president, who last year told German television that he "would like to end Guantanamo," is now threatening to veto any move to "micromanage the detention of enemy combatants."

"It's a Republican litmus test this year," complained Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, one of the few GOP lawmakers calling for the swift closure of Guantanamo.

"The Republican Party has won two elections on the issue of fear and terrorism," Hagel said. "[It's] going to try again."

It's really quite amazing that a symbol of illegal detentions, torture and the loss of American moral leadership is seen as a CAMPAIGN ISSUE to these fools. But so it goes. Chuck Hagel is absolutely right.

I don't expect this to stop even with a Democrat elected in 2008, incidentally. There are a lot of institutional forces in place to protect the status quo. There's a lot of work to be done moving them out.

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