The results of the Little Prince’s testimony in front of Congress can’t be making anyone in the Bush Administration happy.
There are competing bills in the House, one by Rep. David Price (D-NC) (Update [2007-10-4 13:54:32 by Zandar1]: which passed overwhelmingly 389-30) the PMCs are lining up behind, the other, by Barack Obama is far more strict.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has proposed clarifying that private contractors accused of misconduct can be tried under U.S. law and urging the Pentagon to pursue such civilian prosecution. Following a Sept. 16 shooting that infuriated the Iraqi government and got the contracting firm Blackwater USA briefly barred from the country, Senate aides are working on adding parts of Obama’s plan to the defense authorization bill.
Obama told Bush in a Monday letter that he should pin down information immediately on offenses committed by contractors.
“It is our government’s obligation to ensure that security contractors in Iraq are subject to adequate and transparent oversight and that their actions do not have a negative impact on our military’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Obama wrote.
His proposal also would require the Justice Department inspector general to report to Congress on the number of complaints it has received against private contractors, and the number of investigations opened and criminal cases pursued in response. Baghdad officials are investigating Blackwater’s actions in the Sept. 16 violence and other recent incidents that caused Iraqi civilian casualties, and the State Department launched its own probe late last week.
Obama told Bush he was “disturbed” by the Blackwater episode, which “raises larger questions about the role of private security contractors.”
Those “larger questions” are the greatest concern to the Bush Administration, and should be of the utmost concern to Americans. John Edwards would go even further.
Mr. Edwards, in Portsmouth, N.H., called for ending the outsourcing of military and security missions to contractors. He presented a plan to expand the jurisdiction of American law enforcement agencies to cover contractors overseas and used the case to highlight his opposition to the Iraq war and Bush administration tactics.
“The Bush administration is keeping the war in Iraq going, despite the overwhelming opposition of the American people,” Mr. Edwards said. “And they are doing it in part by performing an end-run around the all-volunteer force.”
Kudos for Edwards to bring up the elephant in the room. The only reason we’re able to stay in Iraq is because of these PMC mercs, they’re unregulated, and they are indeed an end-run around the all-volunteer force that our military is today. These mercs are there specifically to get around the draft. They are being paid far more than America’s military and that money is coming from our pockets. The PMCs are Bush’s way of continuing the war forever, because he knows a draft would invoke a massive response from the people.
The PMCs are Bush’s back door draft. They always have been: he lowers the numbers of military troops in Iraq and increases the PMCs.
But now people are asking questions about why we even have PMCs in Iraq at all, and the answers they are getting are far more sinister. The Iraqis aren’t standing for it either.
The official Iraqi investigation into last month’s Blackwater shooting has been submitted to the government and recommends the security guards face trial in Iraqi courts, and that the company pay compensation to the victims, an Iraqi government minister told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The three-member panel, led by Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi, finished its work earlier this week and submitted the report and recommendations to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday, the government minister told AP on condition he not be identified by name.
The minister said the report was issued under the signatures of al-Obeidi, Maj. Gen. Tariq al-Baldawi, the deputy minister of national security; and Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, the deputy interior minister for intelligence and security affairs.
The cabinet minister said the report determined that 13 Iraqi civilians — not 11 as originally reported — were killed when Blackwater USA guards sprayed western Baghdad’s Nisoor Square with gunfire Sept. 16. The investigation maintained, as Iraqi authorities have throughout, that the Blackwater guards had not been fired on when they unleashed the fusillade. It said no shots were fired at Blackwater personnel throughout.
Blackwater has said its guards, which protect State Department personnel in Baghdad, only used their weapons after they came under fire.
The Iraqi report said the Blackwater guards had violated accepted rules of engagement, should face trial in the Iraqi justice system, and that the company should compensate the families of the victims.
The split between where the US and where Iraq stands on Blackwater cannot be bridged. One of the two is going to have to lose, and lose big time. Blackwater is becoming an election albatross around the GOP’s collective necks, and even they are starting to chafe. This is not an issue of the press hiding the good news, this is an issue of the world finally paying attention to the bad news. It seems every day more sordid details are coming up about Blackwater incidents, and people are coming to the correct conclusion that without these PMCs we can’t stay in Iraq.
The Iraqis have figured this out. America is starting to figure this out too.