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Commentary :: War and Militarism
Like Cowboys in the Wild West
25 Oct 2007
Special rules are obviously in force for Blackwater. Prince rejected the criticism that his operatives acted like cowboys in the Wild West.

Despite serious criticisms of the US Congress, the head of the Blackwater security firm operating in Iraq defends his business


[This article published in: DIE ZEIT 40/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

After the fatal shooting of Iraqi civilians, the US Congress has called the Blackwater private security firm to account. In a heated interrogation, representatives of the Democratic Party condemned the firm’s actions as ruthless and aggressive. They reproached the State department for failing oversight and repeatedly closing its eyes.

The founder of the firm, a former member of an elite unit of the US Marines, defended the operation. The actions of the operatives were appropriate, Blackwater head Eric Prince said before the committee of the House of Representatives.

In a report prepared for the committee, 195 cases were listed in which Blackwater used firearms. The report covered the time period from the beginning of 2005 to September 12, 2007. On average, Blackwater was involved in shootings 1.4 times a week.

Given this number, the Iraqi Prime minister Nur al-Maliki radically questioned the Blackwater operation. The many accusations demonstrated that further operations cannot be allowed, he said in Baghdad.

The democrat Carolyn Maloney criticized the case of a Blackwater operative who killed the bodyguard of a member of the Iraqi government and got away unpunished: “In the US he would have been arrested and prosecuted. However special rules are obviously in force for Blackwater.” Prince rejected this reproach that his operatives acted like cowboys in the Wild West. “Many rash judgments are based on vague information,” he said. In many cases, Blackwater is unjustly accused of being responsible for the death of civilians.

The deaths of eleven Iraqi civilians were the reason for the hearing. They were killed on September 16 by Blackwater mercenaries who accompanied a convoy with members of the US embassy. The case has triggered a discussion on the role of private security forces in Iraq. Since 2001, Blackwater has received contracts from the American government amounting to a billion dollars and currently works with around 1000 operatives in Iraq.
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