is blackwater to be held accountable: how many americans will be strolling through iraq now?

Democracy Now!
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Number of armed “private contractors” now in Iraq: at least 20,000–30,000, according to the Washington Post. (Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller Blackwater, puts the figure for all private contractors in Iraq at 126,000.)

Can Iraq (or Anyone) Hold Blackwater Accountable for Killing Iraqi Civilians? A Debate On the Role of Private Contractors in Iraq

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As the Iraq government expels Blackwater over the killing of 11 Iraqi civilians, Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” debates Doug Brooks, president of International Peace Operations Association, a trade group for the private security industry.

The Bush administration is trying to stop the Iraqi government from banning the private military firm Blackwater.  Iraqi officials say they’ve revoked Blackwater’s license over a deadly shooting that killed up to eleven civilians.  Witnesses say Blackwater guards fired indiscriminately after a car bomb exploded near their convoy.  Blackwater is denying wrongdoing and says it guards properly responded to an ambush from insurgents.But Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani called the shootings: “a big crime that we can’t be silent about.”

U.S. officials have already gone into overdrive to prevent the move.  On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Malaki and vowed an investigation.  But the Iraqi government appears to be holding ground.  Earlier today Iraq Maliki’s cabinet said it supports the ban and will review the legal status of all private military companies working in Iraq. The shootout is only Blackwater’s latest controversy in Iraq.

The North Carolina-based firm operates under a multi-million dollar contract to protect U.S. officials and facilities.  It’s been allowed close to free reign under a murky legal environment that offers little to no oversight over its operations.  The author and independent journalist Jeremy Scahill has been closely following Blackwater. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Jeremy joins me in the firehouse studio. And joining me from Washington, DC is Doug Brooks. He is President of International Peace Operations Association, a trade group for the private security industry. Blackwater is a founding member.

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