Thursday, September 20, 2007

Panic, Patchwork and Permissions--Blackwater, USA

Where Military Rules Don't Apply

Blackwater's Security Force in Iraq Given Wide Latitude by State Dept.

Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, September 20, 2007; Page A01

Blackwater USA, the private security company involved in a Baghdad shootout last weekend, operated under State Department authority that exempted the company from U.S. military regulations governing other security firms, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives.

. . . U.S. authorities have no idea how many hired guns operate in the country; estimates range from 20,000 to 50,000 or higher.

The rules on use of force are introduced in capital letters with the statement: "NOTHING IN THESE RULES LIMITS YOUR INHERENT RIGHT TO TAKE ACTION NECESSARY TO DEFEND YOURSELF."

A separate document, CPA Order 17, dated June 27, 2004, granted the private security companies immunity from Iraqi law.

The CPA administrator, L. Paul Bremer, left Iraq the next day after transferring authority to an interim Iraqi government.

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Accountability is the backbone of a fighting force. Every step of the way in the American armed forces is accountable to someone, from private to General of the Army. It's an institutional requirement.

A gun for hire never worked in American western movies either. Alan Ladd, John Wayne, Clint and even Randolph Scott always took on the hired guns; they were always evil and always vanquished--the ranch saved, the town returned to peace and tranquility.

But Rummy found himself embarrassed by Eric Shinseki's truth that he didn't have even 25% of the troops he needed and hired himself some soldiers of fortune on the quick. Hasn't worked--another Rumsfeld inspired Bremer disaster left bobbing in the wake of his Medal of Freedom.

Now it's hit the fan, big-time.

Stay tuned.


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Iraq War, check out Opinion-Columns.com