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A Sign O' The Times

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MSNBC

BAGHDAD - Iraq will not authorize Blackwater Worldwide, the U.S. Embassy's main security company, to operate in the country anymore, a senior Iraqi official said Thursday.
Nothing warms my heart more than to see Blackwater lose an account. If ever there was a clear example of modern fascism, Blackwater Worldwide fits the bill. Now, if we could just eliminate other privitization companies. There are simply some things the goverment ought be doing, not private corporations. If for no other reason than the astronomical costs of contracting out services.
CNN

(CNN) -- Five former security guards from Blackwater Worldwide have been indicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and weapons violations, Justice Department officials announced Monday.
I have been meaning to write a post about this since it was first announced. Unfortunately, my anger, or my outrage fatigue, has prevented me from doing so. To be honest, I still am not going to write anything of merit, because it disgusts me to no end. These trigger happy 21st Century Cowboys are a disgrace to our country. They are mercenaries who killed innocent lives, and then lied about it to stay out of trouble.
New York Times

In one sense, by emphasizing the new steps it is taking to control weapons, the Interior Ministry seems determined to leverage the respect shown for its investigators in such a high-profile case into an improved image over all. The strategy appears to be to concede that both American and Iraqi security forces have made mistakes in the past but that both were taking steps to put those problems behind them.

During one remarkable session on Wednesday, an administrative official at the ministry said that it had had problems with “ghost payrollers,” or fictitious employees, and political pressure in the past. But the official, Maj. Gen. Jihan Hussein, said that the ministry was squarely facing those problems.

“If you knew the pressures we have from members of Parliament to have their relatives employed by the ministry, you wouldn’t believe it,” General Hussein said.[emphasis by editorial-you know-me!]

But he said the ministry would not bow to those pressures. In a similar vein, Mr. Bolani said that the ministry’s strict new approach to weapons licenses would try to redress past mistakes.

I'll be the first to admit my mood has been dark, and my hope hiding in it's shadow. Yet, I find myself colorfully surprised. This strikes me as a hopeful sign of progress in Iraq. Anytime honesty becomes a part of the dialog, hope has the opportunity to come out from the shadows.

Immunity Jeopardizes Iraq Probe

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Washington Post

Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation two weeks after the Sept. 16 shootings cannot use any information gleaned during questioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed by the FBI, citing promises of immunity from State, one law enforcement official said. The restrictions on the FBI's use of their initial statements do not preclude prosecution by the Justice Department using other evidence, the official said, but "they make things a lot more complicated and difficult."

Under State Department contractor rules, Diplomatic Security agents are charged with investigating and reporting on all "use of force" incidents. Although there have been previous Blackwater shootings over the past three years -- none of which resulted in prosecutions -- the Sept. 16 incident was by far the most serious. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security was under pressure to quickly determine what had happened in what soon became a major controversy in Baghdad and Washington.

Let's be clear here. This is not an example of how big government is bad. This is an example of how BushCo™ is bad at running government. This is just another in a long line of examples of incompetence and arrogance that has been the hallmark of this administration. And there is no doubt that nothing is going to change this pattern except the removal of the current President/Vice-President by either impeachment or the next election. Until then, we are screwed.

Hell, it just does not pay to argue the specifics of this, or any other issue, because no matter what, this administration, whether by intent, or simply by sheer incompetence, will not be able to accomplish the goals. Our president is incapable of achieving any semblance of leadership. He is, and will always be, the worst president ever.

His only claim to fame will be the winning of two elections. So, he's beaten daddy dearest, and can now rest on his haunches. He's got nothing else to prove.

Oh, and isn't this just the most hilarious statement ever:

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack referred all questions to the Justice Department. "But if anyone has broken the rules or applicable laws, they should be held to account," McCormack said.

Get in line. We're still waiting for someone to be fired over the leaking of Valerie Plame's status as an undercover CIA agent.

Editor's Note: Clarified to eradicate author exuberance.

Blue Girl, Red State

Four and a half years into Iraq, and six years into Afghanistan, they have decided it’s time to determine what, exactly, to do with mercenaries who attack and murder civilians without provocation, or otherwise commit actions that undermine the efforts of the United States to salvage something – anything – from this clusterfuck so we can claim some sort of semblance of a shadow of a specter of a pale imitation of victory™ and get the hell out of there.
Sometimes, you just need to duck when she gets her grove on.
New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.

Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.
Well, what do you expect when Blacwater USA has super secret decoder ring protection.

The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of episodes in which they had resorted to force.
[snip]
The State Department’s incident reports have not been made public, and Blackwater refused to provide its own data on cases in which its personnel used their weapons while guarding American diplomats. The State Department is in the process of providing at least some of the data to Congress. The administration and industry officials who agreed to discuss the broad rate of Blackwater’s involvement in violent events would not disclose the specific numbers.
[snip]
A Blackwater spokeswoman declined to comment.
Damn, I really have to get me one of those rings.

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