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Blackwater massacre spotlights mercenary role in Iraq

Paid to terrorize the population, maintain the occupation

U.S.-based private security contractor Blackwater USA massacred 11 Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16. More than a dozen Iraqis were wounded, some severely. Victims state that the attack was unprovoked; Blackwater claims its mercenaries were "responding to enemy fire."

This latest massacre is not much different than the many thousands of similar atrocities committed by security


Hassan Jabir, Sept. 20.

contractors in Iraq. Blackwater—along with other security companies like Triple Canopy, DynCorp and Erinys—operates as an appendage of the brutal U.S. occupation. It is charged with guarding "sensitive" sites and providing protection to U.S. and Iraqi puppet government officials and businessmen.

Over 180,000 civilians are now working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to U.S. State and Defense Department estimates. Nearly 48,000 are security contractors. There currently over 160,000 U.S. troops occupying Iraq.

What makes the recent Blackwater massacre unique is that survivors lived to recount what happened.

Iraqi lawyer Hassan Jabir told Associated Press on Sept. 20 that he was stuck in traffic in Baghdad when he heard Blackwater gunmen shout, "Go, go, go!" He and others were turning around when bullets penetrated his back, Jabir said from his hospital bed.

People in the street panicked at the indiscriminate shooting. Men, women and children dove from their vehicles in attempts to reach safety. "But many of them were killed," said Jabir. "I saw a 10-year-old boy jump in fear from one of the minibuses. He was shot in his head. His mother jumped after him and was also killed."

The attack was unprovoked. "I swear to God that they were not exposed to any fire, Jabir said of the Blackwater guards. "They are criminals and thirst for blood."

The murder rampage has sparked criticism in Iraq and beyond. Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded that the Iraqi government ban all foreign security contractors.

Even the Iraqi puppet government leadership spoke up—but its words were hot air. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to gain credibility and appear to be independent of his U.S. colonial masters.

Blackwater’s war crimes will not be redressed either by the occupying power or its compliant puppet regime.

President Bush has called for an inquiry into the "incident." Meanwhile, Blackwater remains in Iraq under a State Department contract. And al-Maliki will only do what the U.S. government wants. His government position depends on Washington’s wants and needs.

Blackwater’s role in Iraq is an outgrowth of the imperialist occupation. It has received $1 billion in contracts there since
the 2003 invasion.

Blackwater has 2,300 employees deployed in nine countries. Its largest contract is to provide security to U.S. diplomats and facilities in Iraq.

The company’s mission began in 2003 when it received a $21 million no-bid contract to protect Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer.

Heavily armed Blackwater goons also have protected Bremer’s successors, John Negroponte and Zalmay Khalizad, along with over 90 Congressional delegations.

Private contractors allow the Bush administration to deploy private forces, while hiding from the public the actual number of combat injuries and deaths and the crimes committed by these forces.

Wars and the contractors employed to fight them also generate profits for the U.S. capitalist class.

But no matter how many contractors are paid to fight in Iraq, the colonizers are less safe now than they were before the much-vaunted troop "surge" began last winter.

After the Blackwater massacre, the U.S. government barred diplomats from leaving central Baghdad’s Green Zone by road. This means U.S. colonial officers are confined now to a 3.5-mile area. They have not been able to travel anywhere else in Iraq without dozens of armed mercenary escorts for some time.

The armed resistance to U.S. occupation is growing, as is the hatred of occupation felt and expressed by the majority of Iraqis.

Baghdad resident Abu Ahmed told AP, "Our problem is rooted in the occupation, regardless of whether it’s by security firms or foreign troops. This is one of the grave consequences of the occupation."

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