by David Phinney
Saturday August 24th 2019

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Contract Killings?

Once upon a time, the Pentagon relied on the military for protecting civilians in wartime environments — now it relies on private contractors with guns.
They call them private security contractors. In Iraq there are an estimated 25,000 hired to protect reconstruction contractors working in wartime conditions — the number is more than a full military division. But unlike soldiers who serve under US and international law, these contractors have near immunity to all laws — thanks to an order signed by Paul Bremmer when he headed the Coalition Provisional Authority after the invasion of Iraq.
For the better part of 2005, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (and several US generals) has been whispering to a few newspaper reporters that these gun-totting contractors careening around the streets of Iraq in their armored SUVs are responsible for dozens of random shootings each month.
The Zapata security contractors were jailed for their alleged potentially deadly trigger-happy ways last May. Then we heard about the “Trophy Video,” said by some to be Aegis security contractors shooting at Iraqi civilians driving behind convoys.
By September, US Army Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is responsible for security in and around Baghdad, told The Washington Post:

“These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force….They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.”

Hosrt told The Post that the began keeping his own count after shootings became so frequent in Baghdad last summer. Between May and July, he said, he tracked at least a dozen contractor shootings of civilians. Six Iraqis were killed and three wounded.
Now the blog Crooks and Liars has posted an apparently confidential report (submitted by another contractor, SEC) on a possible murder by security contractors of two Iraqi truck drivers traveling on the Baghdad Highway from Ramadi to Amman. They met their death a few miles from the Jordanian border in December, 2004.
The private security team, working for Triple Canopy, are said to have claimed that the truck drivers were acting erratic, so the contractors opened fire and shot 200 rounds.
When the team was stopped by an English-speaking Iraqi customs agent at the border, he asked the security convoy if there had been any incidents along the way. “Negative,” said the security team.
The customs agent than inquired about 100 shell casing found near the scene of two Iraqis with their faces blown off and held the team for nine hours while the team and their vehicles were searched.
That’s the end of it, except for this final comment:

“THESE GUYS WERE ON THE WAY HOME AND DECIDED THAT THEY NEEDED TO KILL A FEW IRAQIS JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT—COWBOYS AND MURDERERS LIKE THESE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] ARE GOING TO UNDERMINE THE ENTIRE EFFORT IN IRAQ. THEY HAVE STAINED THE NAMES OF THE US MILITARY PERSONNEL WHO HAVE BEEN KIA OR WIA IN IRAQ. IF I WAS [IRAQI] I’D BE TRYING TO KILL THESE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] ‘CONTRACTORS’, TOO!”

What is going on? Perhaps the powers-that-be prefer not to say. If private security contractors are shooting just for the hell of it, than they are endangering the lives not only of Iraqis, but they are dragging down all the peaceful working-stiff contractors who are bravely trying to help rebuild Iraq.

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