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U.S. Turns to Mercenaries

The four "civilians" killed, burned, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, were employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a rural North Carolina subsidiary of Blackwater USA, one of several dozen firms taking over the duties of the regular American military in Iraq, protecting buildings and grounds as well as officials.
Published on Thursday, April 1, 2004 by The Village Voice

U.S. Turns to Mercenaries

by James Ridgeway

WASHINGTON — The four "civilians" killed, burned, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, on Wednesday morning weren't really civilians. Or were they? They were employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a rural North Carolina subsidiary of Blackwater USA, one of several dozen firms taking over the duties of the regular American military in Iraq, protecting buildings and grounds as well as officials.

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 http://www.blackwaterusa.com/
" Blackwater USA is comprised of five companies; Blackwater Training Center, Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Security Consulting, Blackwater Canine, and Blackwater Air (AWS). We have established a global presence and provide training and tactical solutions for the 21st century.
Our clients include federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Transportation, local and state entities from around the country, multi-national corporations, and friendly nations from all over the globe.

We customize and execute solutions for our clients to help keep them at the level of readiness required to meet today's law enforcement, homeland security, and defense challenges.
Any and all defense services supplied to foreign nationals will only be pursuant to proper authorization by the Department of State.

Come to Blackwater, where the professionals train."

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In fact, Blackwater itself is in charge of protecting L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, the U.S. official who now runs Iraq as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. In the coming weeks, hundreds of American civilian workers who really are civilians will be entering Iraq to work on private contracts let by the Bush government. Their security will be provided by guards (like the Blackwater men killed yesterday) from a variety of security firms, often consisting of former U.S. military special ops people.

The use of private military forces raises tricky questions for the U.S. government. The most important one is why is the Bush administration is recruiting civilians to work there when our government can't possibly guarantee the security of the area. Another question: Why aren't these jobs in combat zones being carried out by American military forces, instead of mercenaries?

Building up a surrogate military force, along the lines of the French Foreign Legion or the Gurkhas, has been the ambition of conservatives for many years. The thinking is that future wars will be characterized by "low-intensity," or guerrilla, warfare. If the fighting is done by a force of irregular surrogates, people won't question their casualties as they would those of regular military personnel. The contras in Nicaragua were an example of what a surrogate fighting force might look like, and special ops types from South Africa's former apartheid regime have long been involved in fighting in southern Africa.

The latest incident involving one of these relatively new mercenary companies occurred in Haiti. There the Steele Foundation, a private security firm based in California, was protecting the palace when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was summarily rushed to the airport at Port-au-Prince and onto a mysterious plane that took off with no listed destination—raising the inevitable question of their involvement with American intelligence. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Aristide feared that the Steele people would abandon their jobs and leave him to be killed by the rebels. Subsequent press reports noted that an extra detail of Steele people requested by Aristide for added protection were blocked by American officials from leaving California for Haiti.

In Iraq, Blackwater provides security not only for Bremer but also for food shipments in the turbulent Fallujah area.

The private security firms working in Iraq see big salaries as well as plenty of potential danger. Often, they have been seen in military garb but without the insignias that would formally designate them as U.S. military. This situation raises the question of whether or not they can be treated as soldiers under the Geneva conventions—whether they are provided those protections—or whether as irregulars they will get dealt with as spies.

Providing mercenaries is a popular and growing business in part because their use in places like Iraq presumably would release regular military personnel for other work—or allow them to go back to the U.S.

Blackwater USA's other subsidiaries are Blackwater Training Center, Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Canine, and Blackwater Air. The company proclaims: "We have established a global presence and provide training and tactical solutions for the 21st century," adding, "Our clients include federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Transportation, local and state entities from around the country, multinational corporations and friendly nations from all over the globe."

homepage: homepage: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0401-14.htm
address: address: The Village Voice via Common Dreams NewsCenter

:::Photo::Fallujah Cemetery of Americans 01.Apr.2004 17:34

al-masakin

An Iraqi boy holds a leaflet saying 'Fallujah, the cemetery of the Americans,' near a burning car. The horrific killing and dismemberment of American civilian contractors in the Iraqi rebel town was evidence of mounting anti-US rage and a serious blow to coalition efforts to control the 'Sunni Triangle'.(AFP/File/Karim Sahib)


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People cheer around burned corpses after they were cut down from a bridge, following an attack in the restive town of Falluja, Iraq (news - web sites) March 31, 2004. A crowd of cheering Iraqis dragged charred and mutilated bodies through the streets of Falluja on Wednesday after an attack on two vehicles that witnesses said killed at least three foreigners. The graphic images from the incident could shake U.S. public support for the occupation and may play into the presidential campaign, pollsters and media analysts said on April 1. Photo by Ali Jasim/Reuters Children cheers around burned corpses after they were cut down from a bridge, following an attack in the restive town of Falluja March 31, 2004. A crowd of cheering Iraqis dragged charred and mutilated bodies through the streets of Falluja on Wednesday after an attack on two vehicles that witnesses said killed at least three foreigners.

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Iraqis chant anti-American slogans on a bridge over the Euphrates River where charred bodies are hanging in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Wednesday March 31 2004. Defiant residents celebrated the murder and mutilation of four American contractors ambushed by rebels a day earlier, and with bravado, one man in the street said Thursday he wished Marines would enter the city so townspeople could have a showdown.(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Fallujah Cemetery of Americans JPEG
Fallujah Cemetery of Americans JPEG
Crowds Cheer Burned Merc Corpses
Crowds Cheer Burned Merc Corpses
Mercs Hang From Bridge While Muslims Celebrate
Mercs Hang From Bridge While Muslims Celebrate

::::More Dead Merc Photos::: 01.Apr.2004 17:39

al-masakin

Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred bodies hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Wednesday, March 31 2004. Enraged Iraqis in this hotbed of anti-Americanism killed four foreigners Wednesday, including at least one U.S. national, took the charred bodies from a burning SUV, dragged them through the streets, and hung them from the bridge. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

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Iraqis celebrate on a wrecked car attacked in the flashpoint town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. Furious Iraqis hacked up the charred remains of two civilians killed in an ambush, hung them from a bridge and vowed to make Fallujah a cemetery for the US-led occupation forces(AFP/Karim Sahib)

Iraqis mutilate the burnt body of one of the dead civilians. Furious Iraqis hacked up the charred remains of two US civilians killed in an ambush in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, hung them from a bridge and vowed to make the town a cemetery for US-led coalition forces(AFP/Karim Sahib)
US Mercs Hang:::BYE:::BYE:::
US Mercs Hang:::BYE:::BYE:::
Muslim Patriots Dance on Merc Wreakage
Muslim Patriots Dance on Merc Wreakage
Merc Bodies Desecrated
Merc Bodies Desecrated

15,000 Mercs in Iraq 01.Apr.2004 20:09

al-masakin

CNN's "Anderson Cooper's 360" reported April 1, 2004 that there are more than 15,000 mercenaries in Iraq earing between $150,000 and $250,000 per year.