Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bombs away!

Via Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, TPM Muckraker notes another nice technique of Blackwater's:

As far as Blackwater's many sins go, this one's pretty minor. But it's got that special Blackwater touch.

Back in 2005, The New York Times reports, a Blackwater helicopter dropped tear gas (CS gas) on a checkpoint in Baghdad's Green Zone. "An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.... A number of Iraqi civilians, both on foot and in cars waiting to go through the checkpoint, were also exposed. " The gas, which the American military itself "can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders," causes burning eyes, skin irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing and sometimes even vomiting.

Blackwater's explanation, by way of spokeswoman Anne Tyrell, was that "a CS gas canister was mistaken for a smoke canister and released near an intersection and checkpoint." If there was some mistake, both the helicopter and the vehicle on the ground seem to have been mistaken. Oops.

Oddly enough, Army officers told the Times that "the Blackwater convoy appeared to be stuck in traffic and may have been trying to use the riot-control agent as a way to clear a path." Now, how blinding everyone in the area would help traffic to clear isn't immediately clear to me. Nor is it clear to Capt. Kincy Clark who was hit by the gas and wrote, "Why someone would think a substance that makes your eyes water, nose burn and face hurt would make a driver do anything other than stop is beyond me.”

Odd that... almost like they planned to do it... But they'd never lie, would they? The owner of Blackwater, Erik Prince is a fundamentalist Christian and would never let his mercenaries do anything un-Christ-like, right?


Bryan said...

[OK, delete the previous and insert this:]

As someone who has handled CS and Smoke canisters - you have to be blind and wearing mittens not to know the difference between the two, and CS is not something that could help you in a traffic jam, while it would be quite effective in creating one.

In a crowd people would move away, but in traffic, the vehicles will be left stopped and driverless by CS.

This was a criminal level of stupidity - CS is not benign if anyone in the area has certain medical conditions, and once it has contaminated your clothing and hair, if they are not rinsed in cold water, the CS will reactivate when warmed.

[I really should preview]

ellroon said...

Good god. Thanks for telling us the details, Bryan. I have never been near tear gas being used and do not know a thing about it.

The more we know, the more dangerous Blackwater and all their mercenary cohorts get. Wonderful.