FROM: CLEARWATER PROJECT
RE: BLACKWATER SHOOTING OF IRAQI CIVILIANS
CONTACT: Clearwater: Dan Kenney 815-793-0950, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 19 2007:
The Clearwater Citizens' Project organized to stop Blackwater's expansion into Illinois and to educate others about Blackwater's role in the privatization of our military, issues the following statement in response to media reports on the Iraqi government's decision to ban Blackwater USA from working in the country:
"The latest fatal shooting of Iraqi civilians involving Blackwater, and the Iraqi government's subsequent banning of Blackwater highlight the need for our own government to take action now to ensure U.S. contractors are held responsible for their criminal acts. According to numerous reports private contractor personnel implicated in previous violent incidents have been flown out of Iraq by their employers before a full investigation could be conducted, even when there were credible allegations of murder of innocent civilians. These acts that go by without justice being rendered undermine our international standing and tend to generate violent actions against our own soldiers.
One of the U.S. government's purposes in Iraq is to establish the rule of law. U.S. contract employees should not be allowed to avoid that very principle. Thus far, civilian contractors like Blackwater have not been held accountable to the same code of law followed by our military personnel. This means that victims have no access to justice, and human rights abuses go unpunished. In addition these actions take place while millions of U.S. tax payer dollars are paid to these same private firms.
We call on our U.S. Representatives to act now on comprehensive bills in the House and the Senate that would begin addressing the gap in accountability which now exists. We urge our representatives to support H.R. 897 introduced by Rep. Schakowsky of Illinois and similar legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Obama. We also ask that Congress take these shootings seriously and begin to withhold money from the private military firms being investigated for criminal acts of violence to innocent citizens of Iraq. We ask Congress to take this action on behalf of innocent Iraqi citizens who have no legal recourse to protect themselves, and for the sake of American soldiers who are placed in situations of increased danger due to the reckless actions of private contractors.
We also urge Illinois citizens to take a close look at the actions of Blackwater USA and to ask themselves if this is the kind of company we want training our local law enforcement at its new training facility, Blackwater North, in northwest Illinois. Blackwater is a company which has shown time and again a disregard for any law and they have put profit before human rights. It's time that Illinois take a comprehensive look at legislation that will regulate the actions of all such rogue companies operating on Illinois soil.