Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Blackwater plot deepens

For all the scandal, the mercenary firm has escaped any severe legal sanction. That could now change

Jeremy Scahill, Wednesday 11 November 2009

"The mercenary firm Blackwater has become a symbol of the utter lawlessness and criminality that permeates the privatised wing of the US war machine. The company's operatives have shot dead scores of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, while former employees allege in sworn statements that Blackwater's owner Erik Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe", and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life". Five Blackwater employees will stand trial in federal court in the US on charges that they slaughtered 14 innocent Iraqis, while a sixth Blackwater operative has already pleaded guilty. The company faces allegations of illicit weapons-smuggling and tax evasion, and is being sued for war crimes. The private army is under fire. And yet, despite all the action, none of the legal bullets has – to date – landed a serious blow.

An explosive report in the New York Times today could change that. The paper alleges that in the aftermath of the infamous 2007 Nisour Square massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians, top Blackwater officials "authorised secret payments" of about $1m into Iraq intending to bribe officials to allow Blackwater to remain in Iraq despite Baghdad's position that the company would be banned and the killers prosecuted......."

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