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

Thursday, January 29, 2009


So the New York Times reports that Blackwater was denied a license by the Iraqi government to operate inside the country.

Blackwater Worldwide, the security firm whose guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians on a crowded Baghdad street in 2007, will not receive an operating license from the Iraqi government, a decision that will likely force American diplomats here to make new arrangements for their personal protection, officials said Thursday.

Unlike many security contractors in Iraq, Blackwater has been operating without an Iraqi government license, although it had recently applied for one.

The request was turned down during the past few weeks by the Iraqi government, officials said.

“They presented their request, and we rejected it,” said Ala’a Al-Taia, an official with Iraq’s Interior Ministry. “There are many marks against this company, specifically that they have a bad history and have been involved in the killing of so many civilians.”

Presumably this would mean they would have to leave the country and the State Department would have to find a new contractor or use US military personnel for security. But Noah Schachtman says that while Blackwater may have to go, their employees are likely to stay:

Sure, Blackwater as a corporate entity probably won't be roaming the streets of Baghdad or Mosul for much longer. But the individual mercenaries who've been working for years in Iraq, serving as a Praetorian Guard for the State Department's diplomats -- those guys likely will be able to stay.

The State Department has a contract for "Worldwide Personal Protective Services" with three firms: Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy. If Blackwater is no longer allowed to operate in Iraq, a lawyer steeped in the field tells Danger Room, there's no legal reason why the other two firms can't scoop up Blackwater's employees. "State simply issues a new task order to DynCorp or Triple Canopy, who turn around and hire some or all of Blackwater's employees," he says.

The Iraqi government hasn't blackballed those who worked for Blackwater in the past, just the corporate entity. Those employees are willing to work in Iraq and experienced with high-level security. Despite their culpability in the indiscriminate murder of civilians, they'll be first in line for the new jobs. But not wearing Blackwater vests.

I guess that's progress?

(Actually, the real progress would be ending the use of private military contractors entirely)

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