In what may be the first chink in the badly beaten Bush body armor, Blackwater Security Consulting was ordered yesterday to stand trial for killing four of its employees in Fallujah in 2004. As seen in "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers," Blackwater sent a small, undermanned convoy into the most dangerous city on the planet - Fallujah - in March 2004, without maps, proper equipment or proper protection. The result was the grisly death of four men, two of whose charred carcasses were strung up from a bridge. Thanks to Blackwater's parsimony, not only were men killed, but the remotest hope for seeing the US as a benevolent force in Iraq was crushed when marines then fought a three week battle to recover the corpses and somehow punish the people of Fallujah for killing the men.
Blackwater, controlled by secretive billionaire and right wing fanatic Eric Prince, has contended that it should not be subject to state court jurisdiction because it is an extension of the US military. It further contended that it is not in any way liable for the fate of its own employees because of that same principle. In short, Mr. Prince believes that he can cut corners and lives, so long as he increases his personal profits. Iraq for Sale shows how Mr. Prince hired a phalanx of well-connected lobbyists to assure that he not only maintained his contracts with the US government after killing his own men, he managed significantly to increase the hundreds of millions of dollars he got from US taxpayers to fund his private, armed insurrection in Iraq.
In the only hearing of note that the Republicans allowed about oversight of government contracts in Iraq, conveniently held right before the November election, a US military official said that Blackwater had no connection whatsoever with the US military and no right to carry arms in Iraq. Somehow, Mr. Prince's idea that he acted on behalf of the military evaporated with just a few words of truth before Congress.
Not one to surrender easily to justice of any sort, Mr. Prince hired Ken Starr to represent him before the Supreme Court, preparing to argue that he is not subject to American law (or apparently any other). He continues to contend that his Blackwater answers to no one; so far, he is right, but times may at last be changing. We can only hope that the Supreme Court denies Mr. Starr another chance to waste taxpayer money on a hearing and that the North Carolina court hears the case forthwith. As Mr. Prince contemplates the money damages he and his private army face for killing his employees, he also may at last face justice before the Congress of the United States. Indicative of the shift that has occurred since the election, at a screening of Iraq for Sale tonight, Congresswoman Jane Harman came out strongly for holding war profiteers accountable for their actions, including facing criminal prosecution. She is part of a broad spectrum of Democrats in Congress who support making hearings on war profiteering a primary issue in January, a promise made by Congressman Henry Waxman once he assumes his leadership of the Government Reform Committee.
So even if a right-wing dominated Supreme Court should somehow forestall Mr. Prince's turn in the dock, we can expect that a vivified US Congress will hold hearings and ultimately demonstrate clearly what Iraq for Sale shows: US firms have not only committed murder in Iraq, they have committed treason, by making money at all costs, even that of American lives and national security.