The Iraqi government, no paragon of legal niceties, demanded that Blackwater leave the "sovereign" territory of Iraq. Why? Well, as Cliff Shecter points out, while the Iraqi government is already engaged in its own civil war, they seem not to want the US to start another one. And that's precisely what started to happen yesterday when Blackwater security guards fired at and killed somewhere between eight and thirteen civilians. And this time the Blackwater boys were not protecting supplies. They were protecting the American government. That's right. Blackwater killed Iraqi civilians while careening through Baghdad in a convoy of black SUVs containing US embassy officials.
I for one want those embassy personnel to be safe. The Foreign Service is staffed largely by professionals intent upon doing their best to further America's aims via peaceful means. Joe Wilson was one of them and fortunately there are many others like him out there. With a real government in Washington that understands that diplomacy is not the logical extension of war (to paraphrase Metternich), those professionals might even be able to end the war and build a peace. But not now. Not with Blackwater, a shadowy private army owned and operated by right wing Republican billionaire donor Erik Prince, providing "security" to our professionals.
But why Blackwater? Why not the US military? Last I checked, Marines guard embassies all over the world, but apparently not in Iraq. Instead, we have a band of unregulated thugs loose on the streets willing and able to kill with impunity, at least partially because they know there is no "higher authority." They answer to no law, not Iraqi, not US, not military and not international. And this is certainly not the first time that Blackwater has become the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.
The good news is that something like this could never happen in the US, right? Think again. Blackwater has a 7,000 acre training facility in Mayok, North Carolina. It has a large facility outside of Chicago that is being opposed by our friends at Clearwater. But that's not enough: Blackwater is trying to open an 824 acre facility in east San Diego County that will have as many as 700 people there at any given time. And they are bidding for work to guard the border between the US and Mexico. Imgaine the international incident when the gun down unarmed civilians on the border. Or when they "show up" for an emergency in LA or San Franciso, armed to the teeth as they did in New Orleans, and offer their services? Will they go away quietly? Will we have to call in our own National Guard to get them to leave just as happened in Iraq?
This nation can no longer afford to support mercenaries on our soil or off. We certainly cannot allow Blackwater to open in California. More than 4,000 people have joined Courage Campaign in asking Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger to stop Blackwater. Will you?