Monday, September 17, 2007

larry johnson scoops me

The problem with worrying about breaking news instead of analysis is that while you waste your time reading, others are writing. And so the draft copy of my thoughts on the Blackwater issue goes into the trash, and instead I get to quote everyone's favorite spook, Larry Johnson:

First problem. Blackwater does not have a license to operate in Iraq and does not need one. They have a U.S. State Department contract through Diplomatic Security. Instead of using Diplomatic Security officers or hiring new Security officers or relying on U.S. military personnel, the Bush Administration has contracted with firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others for people capable of conducting personnel security details. State Department is not about to curtail the contract with Blackwater, who is tightly wired into Washington. Plus, State Department simply does not have the bodies available to carry out the security mission.

Second problem. The Iraqi government has zero power to enforce a decision to oust a firm like Blackwater. For starters, Blackwater has a bigger air force and more armored vehicles then the Iraqi Army and police put together. As Spencer Ackerman reported, Blackwater’s little bird helicopter (an aircraft normally used by U.S. special operations forces) that was firing mini guns at Iraqi targets on the ground this past weekend.

These are the "Little Birds" mentioned, and an example of Blackwater personnel defending a building:

Of course, Blackwater's security contract extends to guarding all sorts of things, and in the real world that means that they often end up fighting right alongside the actual soldiers:

This is the result when you do not have enough troops to do their traditional jobs, and don't internationalize the effort. You are forced to rely on the private sector, and market forces will guarantee that someone will fill that demand. The blame lies not directly with Blackwater, but with the policy makers that gave them a raison d'etre in the first place.

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