I know something about Blackwater USA. This opinion is both intellectually driven as well as moderately emotional. You see, during my own yearlong tour in Iraq, the bad boys of Blackwater twice came closer to killing me than did any of the insurgents or Al Qaeda types. That sort of thing sticks with you. One story will suffice to make my point
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
effort in United States . 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. Iraq
But imagining that incident from an Iraqi perspective made it clear to me that though Blackwater
draws its paycheck from Uncle Sam, it's not working in Uncle Sam's best interests. If I was this angry, I can only imagine the reactions of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who encounter Blackwater personnel on a regular basis. USA
Spencer Ackerman of TPM Muckraker notes:
How ... strange...
It didn't seem to make much sense when Blackwater announced it was withdrawing from the International Peace Operations Association, a lobbying and public-relations firm for private military companies. After all, the firm was under public scrutiny like never before after its guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians on September 16, igniting an international furor.
But as much as Blackwater might have wanted some PR help, it appears what it wanted more was for IPOA to mind its own business.
This morning, the lobby group released its first statement on Blackwater's departure. On Monday, it opened a "review" into whether Blackwater was following the code of conduct for IPOA members. That code emphasizes "human rights, corporate ethics, International Humanitarian Law, transparency, accountability, and responsibility and professionalism in relationships with employees, clients, and partner companies." Two days later, Blackwater quit the group.