October 8, 2007

Comment On The Blackwater Kerfuffle

Being a career (attemptedly semi-retired) security professional, I have been watching the Blackwater saga unfold with great interest. You really need to follow that link to their website and take a good gander at what they do, the services and training they provide and what they’re about, keeping in mind that while they’re big guys in their particular segment of the Protection Industry, they’re not without competitors — they simply happened to fall into the media spotlight due to an “incident” or two.

These beleaguered folks, by now, must know how Microsoft feels on any given day where litigious persecution is concerned.

Looking at the video embedded in the article regarding the Iraq shooting incident, I can’t help but observe that the aftermath views looked a lot more to me like those of a firefight than the results of a security detail running amok. Firms like Blackwater tend to do serious background checks on prospective employees and subcontractors and inject psychological data into the equation. The very idea that the Blackwater security team would have gone off on a collective berserk episode sounds suspiciously like the allegations (and slander) against U.S. Marines that now has traitor John (spit!!!!) Murtha in the legal hot seat, where I sincerely hope he fries to a fine golden brown.

I’m hoping that the “joint Iraqi and U.S.” investigation into the incident is conducted with strong U.S. participation, so we stand the best chance of getting the facts straight. I am infinitely more trusting of the investigative abilities of the likes of the Bureau and other U.S. agencies than I am of people whose religion endorses takkiya and who have lived their lives, or the bulk of same, under the thumb of a regime that determined innocence or guilt based on expediency rather than evidence.

It should be interesting to see how the arms-to-terrorists bit comes out — here, I draw no conclusions. Given the kind of revenues Blackwater enjoys, I doubt that they would take the risk of losing everything to generate the relatively paultry income of selling arms to the bad guys. On the other hand, there are always the possibilities that either some of their onsite personnel could be “in business for themselves” or, to paraphrase any liberal’s dampest and stickiest dreams, that the firm is arming the terrorists in order to perpetuate their own Iraq security operations.

None of the above is anywhere near even speculatory status with me, I’m simply tossing out some possibilities. I fervently hope the last idea is not the case.

All that aside, what actually comes into scrutiny is the mainstream media (MSM)’s reporting of the event.

Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded, according to a new report from Congress.

In at least two cases, Blackwater paid victims’ family members who complained, and sought to cover up other episodes, the Congressional report said. It said State Department officials approved the payments in the hope of keeping the shootings quiet. In one case last year, the department helped Blackwater spirit an employee out of Iraq less than 36 hours after the employee, while drunk, killed a bodyguard for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents on Christmas Eve.

The report by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee adds weight to complaints from Iraqi officials, American military officers and Blackwater’s competitors that company guards have taken an aggressive, trigger-happy approach to their work and have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life.

But the report is also harshly critical of the State Department for exercising virtually no restraint or supervision of the private security company’s 861 employees in Iraq. “There is no evidence in the documents that the committee has reviewed that the State Department sought to restrain Blackwater’s actions, raised concerns about the number of shooting episodes involving Blackwater or the company’s high rate of shooting first, or detained Blackwater contractors for investigation,” the report states.

Before I even consider going any further, I must first address the part about Blackwater contractors firing from their vehicles and not stopping afterwards to check for wounded and dead, etc — anyone who is even remotely conversant with executive protection knows that when your detail comes under attack, your only job is to get the principal out of harm’s way — you don’t hang around for humanitarian purposes or whatever, you beat feet, protectee in tow. An assassination or abduction attempt could include a back-up detail, right there on the scene.

When a (protection) client’s life is in your hands, proprieties be damned. Your only purpose is to keep him/her alive, whatever happens to other people is their business.


The rest of the account is not only also pure MSM, it’s also very nearly the soulmate of a template that could have been used in the left’s failed attempt to embroil Blackwater in the same politics-based, politically motivated millieu as the selfsame “news” media attempted to place on the Marines a couple of years ago, as referenced above, during whose endeavor disgrace to the Marines and general purpose traitor Representative Jack Murtha, without awaiting even the preliminary results of any investigation, accused U.S. Marines of being cold blooded murderers.

This kind of stuff, given the fact that over three decades ago I had strongly considered a career as a journalist, really makes me despair of those on the port side of that particular equation — they are so dedicated to forcing their political point of view on the unsuspecting public that the truth, impartiality and accuracy of delivering unbiased, factual news to their faithful American audience has become a secondary consideration to these “reporters”.

Shame on them!

As far as the Democratic majority in Congress are concerned, well, they have been true to form on this issue — their actions on same, showing their usual lack of sincerity on any subject vs their politically opportunistic nature, have managed to tack a domestic agenda of theirs onto this situation:

The Senate on Monday gave final approval, 92 to 3, to a defense policy bill that included the establishment of an independent commission to investigate private contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, which must be reconciled with a House version, faces a veto threat because it includes an expansion of federal hate-crimes laws


Emphasis mine.

In summary, our diplomats are using security firms like Blackwater for protection in terrorist/war zone environments they must negotiate in order to do their jobs without being murdered in the process. This is not a job for rent-a-cops from Wackenhut or Securitas, it is a job for seasoned combat veterans armed with military smallarms and prepared to return fire without compunction.

Blackwater’s chairman, Erik Prince, made no bones when it came to defending his firm on the Hill.

The State Department made their position clear here and here.

Condi Rice has responded thus.

It seems to me that the bottom line is that, having had their collective ass kicked public opinionwise, over the Petraeus Report, the left is now using Blackwater as a new avenue for attacking our endeavors in Iraq.

If only they expressed the same degree of concerns on our economy, our national security and even the most basic of moral considerations…

by @ 4:16 am. Filed under Security
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25 Responses to “Comment On The Blackwater Kerfuffle”

  1. Ken Taylor Says:

    I think in many ways Blackwater has become the new Haliburton of the left. They did not get anywhere with Haliburton and see the Blackwater incidents as a means of regrouping to attack a Bush entity in Iraq. Although it is getting much scrutiny in the press, when you surf the web or talk to anyone most not only have no idea what the flak is about but even who Blackwater is.

    Once again a perfect example of how things inside the beltway are different than the rest of the country. This is huge inside the I 695 loop but for the average American it has absolutly no interest whatsoever. Another out of touch situation between polititians and the voters.

  2. Seth Says:

    Ken –


    The Democrats see this simply as another vehicle for attacking Bush and our military’s work in Iraq, and as usual their political goals are of infinitely more importance than anything as trivial as bringing to light the true facts.

    Trying to sneak in some totally unrelated hate crimes legislation more than demonstrates their political opportunism on the matter.

    I’ve also noticed that many people I talk to have never heard of Blackwater, while most others either have heard of them only via recent news reports and, in the case of liberals, now believe that the security firm is another “dark” force in Iraq behind whom are, of course, Bush and Cheney, the “evil masterminds” of all that is bad in the world.

    Halliburton, incidentally, is an excellent example of a past attempt by the left to do what they now wish to “accomplish” with Blackwater.

  3. BB-Idaho Says:

    I am still grappling with the private sector efficiency involved here. For example, we learn at http://www.fcw.com/online/news/150414-1.html that Blackwater “Charges the government $1,222 per day for the services of a private military contractor or $445,000 per year, more than six times what an equivalent U.S. soldier receives.” Small wonder every ex-Seal and Ranger wants to double dip. The poor grunt has to follow rules while these guys foul our COIN efforts. (You are right in the average person never having heard of them…out here we think Blackwater is a cheap brand of Evian or Perrier….

  4. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Good, bad or indifferent, government contractors are always overpaid. In this case, however, the situation is like a professional labor pool — Blackwater charges the govt’ per head, then has to pay each head, as a contractor, and still make a profit themselves (and a healthy one it is, too!). As I understand it, there are no benefits packages involved, no HMOs, paid vacations, sick days, etc.

    Blackwater — I think of the Doobie Brothers song from the 1970s. :-)

  5. Gayle Says:

    In the first place the Government wouldn’t have to pay private contractors like Blackwater if Clinton hadn’t stripped our Military to the bare bones! GRRRRR! And it’s ridiculous that one must explain that when under fire you don’t jump out of your vehicle and administer first aid to the wounded, not unless you have suicidal asperations! I am of the opinion that this is ample proof that many liberals aren’t wrapped very tight. Even I, someone who has never been under fire (thank you, Lord!) knows that!

  6. Seth Says:

    Gayle –

    This is the kind of thing that really busts my chops — that the Democrats will take a ridiculous concept and turn it into a serious issue, then run with it, and the MSM will support them unto death.

    Worse, there are all those pitiful souls out there who will rally ’round the lunacy, whatever it happens to be.

    We have a lot to “thank” Bubba for, including, no matter what the left might have us believe, enabling the events of 11 Sep 2001, his legacy to George W. Bush.

  7. Old Soldier Says:

    Great article, Seth.

    Two points.

    One: Blackwater running guns in Iraq would be like selling ice Antartica…

    Two: each Blackwater guard is one deep; in other words he is not supported by 15 to 20 support personnel - like the average Infantryman.

    A bonus point. Most Blackwater ‘guards’ are ex-special forces (Green Berets, SEALS, Black Berets, etc.) Those guys are the most disciplined professionals to ever wear a uniform. They are not cowboys - they are professionals; plain and simple. They aren’t reckless - far from it!

  8. atheling2 Says:


    I confess that Blackwater has been a blip on the peripheral for me, so I don’t know much about it, but from what I gleaned, I thought “Halliburton” as well.

    Aside, have you heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s plight?

    She is back in the Netherlands as the Dutch government won’t pay for her armed security and the US government cannot because she is not an American citizen.

    It seems that she has started fund raising for her security and private individuals are helping. How much would it cost to provide 24 hour security to someone of her situation? And don’t you think she’d be safer in the US than in the Netherlands?


  9. Seth Says:

    Old Soldier –

    The fact that most of these folks are veterans of our most elite military units was the first thing that went though my mind when this brouhaha began — the very idea that the MSM was trying to foist this view of them that shared a category with outlaw bikers ala The Born Losers reeked of accellerated B.S.

    One thing I’ve observed is that when there is any kind of incident involving Iraqi civilian casualties and U.S. personnel, Iraqi “investigations” almost always find said U.S. personnel at fault.

    I’ve come to understand why this is the case: the more liability they place on our doorstep, the more the sensibilities of our western-minded politicians and diplomats can be manipulated via ploys of “shirked” responsibility, guilt and general apology.

    The Arab mind is a 180 from the western mind, but our fearless leaders and the MSM will never figure that out, they’ll just continue to apply 20th Century western logic to their negotiations with 7th Century opponents.

    And this is the only kind of leadership we can expect…

  10. Chicago Ray Says:

    Nice post Seth and These contractors are pros at what they do, and are actually quite lucky in that they operate under more lenient rules of engagement that the soldiers do, as if they the soldiers had the leeway these guys do the damn war would be over. I do wish the soldiers got paid more in line with what they earn as that is a bone of contention for many understandably.

    It’s a warzone not a college campus or spring break, and as far as I’m concerned in that area of the world shoot first ask questions later, especially when half the enemies are covered with turbans, burkhas and veils hiding behind and amongst women and children..

    These people over there by now know damn well they live in a warzone and when they stay out of the way and business of the soldiers and the problem areas and people, they’re mostly ok.

    As far as the left goes they hate anything or anyone that can’t grab it’s ankles first of all and anyone with a gun until they need protection of coarse.

  11. Seth Says:

    Atheling2 –

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s case is a bit complicated.

    Initially, she was reluctant to enter Dutch politics for fear of Islamic reprisal, and was guaranteed protection, by the same officials of the Netherlands government who urged her to run for their parliament, if she did so.

    From what I’ve read of her, she resigned under a cloud of having originally become a Dutch citizen by supplying fraudulent personal information to that government’s immigration people. This could be construed as sufficient legal grounds for reevaluating any previous official agreements reached with her. Political affiliations aside, what would you and I say if we learned that one of our elected officials who was a naturalized American was found to have entered the country and gained citizenship supplying false information?

    Undoubtedly, this was at least one element in the reasoning behind their abrupt restriction of the promised protection to Holland, another being the politics-as-usual kow-towing to Muslims that has become a hallmark of the average modern European country. I say this because while the cost of effective 24 hour protection is expensive, it isn’t even a fraction of a drop in the bucket of the kind of money all governments throw frivolously around 24/7, and the thought of any fiscal concerns being behind the revocation of her protection outside Holland is therefore ludicrous.

    That said, whatever her travails with the Dutch government might be, I would personally welcome seeing her become a U.S. citizen, not only because in my opinion she’s a global asset (one of a very few people to break with the Islamic nightmare and risk their lives telling the world the truth about the Mohammedan death cult), but also because she is a serious achiever who would contribute richly to our society rather than sponge off it like so many immigrants do in these days of expanded social largesse.

    There is no question of her charactar and bravery — imagine sticking to ones message while spending long stretches of time being bundled almost daily from safe house to safe house, knowing that well funded and organized bands of fanatics have one marked as a priority for execution!

    I don’t know why she would want anything to do with the Dutch, anyway — apparently in one of the places they found her to reside, a “secure” apartment building, the other residents filed a lawsuit {it was “too dangerous” having a high profile target living in the same structure} that got her evicted. We might be safer with the French (Foreign Legion paratroopers, at least) watching our sixes than depending upon folks with the cowardly disposition of the Dutch.

    Back to the issue at hand, given the colosal amount of tax revenues (our money) our politicians waste, I would have absolutely no problem with their telling the Dutch to screw off and spending some of that money supplying her with protection here in America.

    The only reason I can think of that this isn’t likely to happen is that our PC politicians wouldn’t want to have anyone as vocal as Ayaan Hirsi Ali here, rocking their boat. :-(

  12. Seth Says:

    Ray –

    The Democrats and the MSM conveniently ignore the circumstances under which their targets are required to perform their duties, and to that end equate actions taken in a war zone with the same government sanctioned actions being taken on a quiet side street in Anytown, U.S.A.

    Anything to perpetuate their “Bush as strongman dictator” rhetoric, while their Hollywood emissaries head south in rotation to pay homage to their hero, Hugo Chavez. With torturer/murderer Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh becoming distant memories and Saddam Hussein relatively freshly planted, I suppose they need a new icon to worship.

    In Blackwater’s case, the MSM has downplayed input by numerous diplomats who have been protected by their contractors that cast the security firm in a positive light while blaring anything they can find, as usual sans waiting for any concrete investigation results, in order to taint political and public opinion in advance.

    In the hands of an experienced journalist, “he said”, “she said” and “they suspect” can be delivered with the right nuances to be interpreted as facts.

  13. BB-Idaho Says:

    According to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119207104012555696.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Blackwater has quit the IPOA. Any significance from a security industry perspective?

  14. Seth Says:

    BB –

    I suspect this was one of those “it might be best if you disassociate your firm from us for the time being, ’til this mess is cleared up” things.

    I’ve been reading that now the Iraqi government is PNG’ing Blackwater, also demanding the right to try the security contractors involved in an Iraqi court, which is not within their legal authority to do.

    As far as any Iraqi investigation results are concerned, I wouldn’t trust them — as I said before, they are Muslims, with a different mindset than ours (our gov’t and the MSM both fail to understand this), and it seems that their conclusions always go against U.S. personnel in incidents where Iraqis have been wounded or killed during American involved firefights. I don’t see this as hostility to our folks, just as some political ploy or other they believe will place our diplomats at a disadvantage at the “bargaining table”.

  15. Shoprat Says:

    I guess Americans are supposed to just take the bullet, lie down and die when their shot at. We’re so big and tough that we’re not allowed to shoot back.

  16. Goat Says:

    Baaa, the moonbats can’t bash the military and get away with it so they turn to Blackwater to get their yaya’s off. I mean look at the Haditha incident, a set up AQ propaganda shoot, or the faked PLO video that set off the last Intifada.

  17. Seth Says:

    Shoprat –

    It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Every American defensive action, military or civilian is wrong, no matter what — as long as there is a Republican in the White House.

    When Clinton got our military involved in Bosnia, fighting on the same side as Al Qaeda, that was just fine, no problem, keep up the good work, Bubba, etc.

    As in the Blackwater incident, it’s always about politics.

    Goat –

    I remember that phony video and its widespread debunking in the Blogosphere, a debunking that somehow managed to be completely “lost on” the MSM as all hell broke loose (that is, Muslims seized the opportunity to practice their Islam on more innocent people).

    As is always the case, they taint public awareness and perception of the situation by “incriminating” their target before any kind of conclusive investigation can be completed, so that by the time the true facts come out, everybody’s minds have already been made up and the truth is easier to ignore.

    Look at the way they deep sixed Scooter Libby’s career over a non-existant crime and caused Alberto Gonzalez to resign by flogging a non-issue. Now that the deeds have been done, we don’t hear much about them from the media.

    If Blackwater is vindicated, we probably won’t hear much from the MSM about it, either, except maybe a brief paragraph buried someplace in the middle of the NYT or WaPo, sandwiched in between stories about three teenagers rescuing an aardvark and a homeowner someplace winning an award for having the best mowed lawn in his community.

  18. The Gray Monk Says:


    There is a cure for this Media “blindness” to natural justice. The Inquiry should make an Executive Order that their findings are to be published Verbatim in the media that did most of the trashing. Secondly, a couple of high profile court cases brought against publishers and editors for “pre-empting” a court or interfering with Justice would also be salutory and force a more considered approach. Be good if you could drag a few of the bigger mouthed politicians into court for the same reason.

    I wonder if there is anyone out there willing to fund such a set of charges….

  19. Seth Says:

    Gray Monk –

    We can but wish.

    Prejudgement by our shameless lefty media, in conjunction with politically constructed rhetoric from the Democrats, succeeds time and time again to achieve their ends, so much so that the American people often get the fid without ever being aware that anything is amiss.

    The only problem with the cure (an excellent idea!) you prescribe is that the media can always hide behind the 1st Amendment, which to our political left states that anything the media wants to spew is entirely permissable as long as it reflects their political views or embraces their agendas, and this seems to work for the courts, as well.

    Politician-wise, well, look at (Democrat) Representative John Murtha, an outspoken anti-war politician. Before the investigation even began in an incident in which U.S. Marines were alleged to have killed Iraqi civilians, Murtha was blatantly calling the marines cold-blooded murderers. One of the marines in question has recently filed a lawsuit against Murtha, and I read someplace that the politician maintains that what he said was in the context of “his job as a member of Congress”, not as a private citizen, or something along those lines. Of course, nothing will probably come of it: In the end, it seems the Democrats always win these things, being the Party of Litigation. They are masters at manipulating what courts they don’t already “own”, on top of which Democrat politicians seem to be made of Teflon — things that bring Republican political entities down in disgrace don’t seem to stick to their Democrat counterparts.

  20. Robert Says:

    I have worked a little with Blackwater. Not the shooters, but the intel types.

    BB, that figure might sound a little high and on the face of it appear to be more costly than using military personnel, but you have to remember a couple of things. First, they can do things that our military can’t and get away with it. Secondly,that number is reimbusement for training, transportation, etc. If you factored in the tens of thousands spent training a Marine infantryman, I don’t think you would find much in the way of savings. Probably some, but not the amount that might spring to mind.

  21. Seth Says:

    Robert –


    I hadn’t even considered the costs of training and deployment, I was focused on the shooters themselves when replying to BB’s comment, and should actually have factored in logistical considerations as well.

  22. BB-Idaho Says:

    This is tangential, but am a little intrigued by the name ‘Blackwater’ for a multi-milllion dollar gov’t contractor. All I can find is 1. blackwater-used liquid dumped from RV tanks, 2. blackwter-any of several rivers in N America, S America & Europe, 3. blackwater-as in ‘blackwater fever’ eg. malaria, wherin the dead red bloodcells darken the urine. None of these seem all that attractive..any ideas?

  23. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Linked from Erik Prince’s Wikipedia bio to “Blackwater U.S.A.”:

    In 1997 Prince and Jackson went into business together to build a first class private military training center, believing there was an opening for such a facility as the military closed the doors on a number of its training centers. They bought a large section of farmland in Camden and Currituck counties in North Carolina, some 25 miles from Fort Bragg. Because the large amount of peat in the area turned the water black in the drainage canals they called the company Blackwater USA.

  24. BB-Idaho Says:

    Thanks! I looked pretty hard..should have went directly to Sethipedia :)

  25. Seth Says:

    BB –