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

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shit And Fan Coming Together At The State Department

We've had our first post-Blackwater resignation, from the top security chief.

The State Department's security chief announced his resignation on Wednesday in the wake of last month's deadly Blackwater USA shooting incident in Baghdad and growing questions about the use of private contractors in Iraq.

Richard Griffin, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, announced his decision to resign at a weekly staff meeting, according to an internal informational e-mail sent to colleagues.

It's obviously going to get much worse for the State Department, as Iraq has formally removed the cloak of immunity protecting private military contractors from prosecution for their actions. This was a holdover from the Coalition Provisional Authority days, and now it's no longer operative. As a result, the contractors could leave whether or not State wants them to stay.

Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association -- otherwise known as the private-security lobby -- took a cautious approach, saying he wanted to reserve judgment until the State Department and the Pentagon made its views known. But he pointed out that most contractors -- not just security contractors, but contractors involved in reconstruction, as well -- hire Iraqis to do significant amounts of grunt work, which westerners supervise. "If you say anyone not Iraqi is now under Iraqi law -- such as it is -- you'll lose a lot of oversight and management capabilities," Brooks says. That's because he expects his member organizations on the ground in Iraq to either shed their American staff or experience difficulty recruiting Americans to go to Iraq in the future. "It would be enormously risky to stay. Individual contractors would have to take a hard look" at remaining in Iraq.

The State Department has claimed that there's no alternative to using private military contractors to guard diplomats. Not only is that a crock of shit, it's about to be tested. Because Blackwater isn't going to expose themselves to prosecution.

Meanwhile, Blackwater is reduced to sending out emails to supporters begging them to astroturf the Congress:

The Blackwater family is comprised of dedicated and active service providers that work vigorously to support the American nation. In this tumultuous political climate, Blackwater Worldwide has taken center stage, our services and ethics aggressively challenged with misinformation and fabrications. Letters, e-mails and calls to your elected Congressional representatives can and will create a positive impact by influencing the manner in which they gather and present information.

While we can’t ask that each supporter do everything, Blackwater asks that everyone does something. Contact your lawmakers and tell them to stand by the truth. Correspondence should be polite and professional. We don’t support generating negative messages. Tell the Blackwater story and encourage your representatives to seek the truth instead of reading negative propaganda and drawing the wrong conclusions.

Suggested themes:
- Cost efficiency of Blackwater – saving the US taxpayer millions of dollars so that the US Government doesn’t have to take troops from their missions or send more into harms way
- Professional population of service veterans and mature law enforcement personnel
- Sacrifice in lives lost by Blackwater saving US diplomats without one single protectee harmed

Sad and hilarious.

UPDATE: Condi Rice does not recall.

Rice did not apologize in the hearing and avoided directly answering a question from Massachusetts Democrat Rep. William Delahunt who asked if she knew (Maher) Arar was tortured in Syria.

"You are aware of the fact that he was tortured?" Delahunt asked.

"I am aware of claims that were made," she responded.

But when asked if the United States had received any diplomatic assurances from Syria that Arar would not be tortured, Rice said her memory of the events had faded and she would have to respond later to the question.

Is the State Department MORE embarrassing than the Justice Department, or less? Discuss.

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