“Humanitarian” Mercenaries?

One of the appeals currently being made by the warbots is an attempt to drum up sympathy for the Americans killed in Fallujah by casting them as humanitarian workers delivering food to the Iraqis.

As AntiWar’s Justin Raimondo points out when critiquing Peggy Noonan’s column in the WSJ yesterday:

What happened in Fallujah, as far as she’s concerned, wasn’t about Iraq, it was all about us: our goodness – the convoy, she points out, was bringing food to Fallujah – our altruism, our violated innocence.

Noonan: “The convoys carried food. They carried it to Fallujah.” Yeah, Nooners. They carried it straight to the American military garrison outside Fallujah.

Apparently at least one of the victim’s families was also told this falsehood:

Scott Helvenston, 38, a former Navy SEAL who was working for a consultant security company, leaves behind a grandmother in Ocala, his mother, Katey Wettengel, brother and other family in Leesburg, and two children in California.

“He’s a hero,” said his younger brother, Jason, in a telephone conversation from Leesburg. “He died supplying food to people who needed it,” he said.

Well, yes, the Marines do indeed need food. Unfortunately, guarding food convoys for an occupying army doesn’t sound quite as selfless and caring as delivering food to starving Iraqis.

An article in a local Greeneville, TN paper from March 30, 2004 sheds some light on the nature of Blackwater USA’s operations. I’ll post a couple of excerpts, but the entire, rather lengthy article is well worth reading. Speaking here is David Randolph, who describes himself as “in charge of a detachment of “more than 20” Blackwater security personnel who are based near the small Iraqi city of Fallujah.”

Fallujah, which is west of Baghdad, is located “at one corner” of the “Sunni Triangle,” the area mostly west and north of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, where attacks on U.S. forces have been numerous since last year.

Randolph said the Blackwater USA personnel he supervises provide security for high-ranking U.S. military officers, U.S. State Department officials and employees of U.S. contractors involved in rebuilding the war-torn county’s infrastructure.
He said that their compound is attacked on many nights by mortar and rocket fire. Asked if the compound had good bunkers in case of such attacks, Randolph said that although there were bunkers, “We depend on their inaccuracy.”

He explained that the mortar and rocket fire unleased by the insurgents had been highly inaccurate for the most part. “After you’ve been here for awhile, you can judge pretty well when you’re in danger.”

After repeatedly failing in attacks on Blackwater USA personnel, Randolph said, insurgents in the Fallujah area recently have began focusing their attacks on Iraqis who drive vehicles that bring food, water and other supplies to Blackwater USA-protected work sites.

“We’ve lost three water truck drivers in the last week,” he said, noting that the Iraqi truck drivers are just trying to earn a living and improve their families’ lives. The former South Carolina police officer said he remains convinced that the casualties the United States has suffered in Iraq over the last year have been “worth the sacrifice.”
Blackwater USA personnel have been able to fend off most attacks by using tactics that make it difficult, if not impossible, for attackers to damage more than one vehicle at a time.

“They haven’t been very successful against us,” he said, “But they’re determined and keep trying.”

He also said that insurgents constantly try to draw Blackwater USA personnel and U.S. military forces into ambushes.

“They try to disable a vehicle and then attack you with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades when you dismount,” he said.

He said Blackwater USA personnel and their U.S. military counterparts counter the ambush threat by positioning their vehicles to cover each other and by avoiding attempts to draw them into traps.

Randolph was not among the four commandos killed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere Blackwater’s activities are described:

The former police officers and Special Operations soldiers who work for Blackwater USA in northeastern North Carolina find themselves playing an unprecedented, controversial and little-known role in the occupation of Iraq.

With the U.S. military stretched thin, they have lucrative jobs defusing roadside bombs, escorting food convoys, protecting visiting dignitaries and even guarding U.S. administrator Paul Bremer. Civilian security forces can earn more than $15,000 a month.

The truth of the matter is that Blackwater security personnel are hired by the American military and occupation authorities to take some of the pressure off the stretched-thin, crippled armed services. They are private commandos, mercenary soldiers, paid far more than the volunteers of the US military.

Currently there is practically no NGO humanitarian agency presence at all in Iraq because it is far too dangerous for them to operate there. To imagine that these highly trained, highly paid American security commandos were on a humanitarian mission “delivering food” is laughable.

UPDATE: For anyone interested in reading more about the issue of the Blackwater mercenaries, here are some good links.

Jeanne D’Arc on Body and Soul blog has written an interesting post on the mercenary subject referencing a post by Tacitus. Both are well written and very informative.

Phillip Carter at INTEL DUMP does a quickie post from an airport briefly discussing the issue and promising to elaborate more when he has time.

Why “pacify” Fallujah?

A couple of weeks ago, four American missionaries were killed in Mosul. Then, on March 28, a Briton and a Canadian mercenary were killed in Mosul.

After 4 mercenaries were killed in Fallujah, Kimmitt goes all ballistic and vows revenge and says he’s going to “pacify” Fallujah.

Isn’t this a little…inconsistent? Is it the Mogadishu-like desecration that got the American military all riled up? But that has happened before. In Mosul.

Re: The Logical Next Step

Regarding yesterday’s prediction of a likely shift in liberventionist rhetoric, reader Daniel Larison sends the following thoughts:

    You might also consider that, conversely, the mayhem in Iraq is doing more to convince people in the Near East that “freedom” and “democracy,” however inaccurately these terms may describe the situation in Iraq, are being indelibly linked with murder, chaos and upheaval. Like the Jacobins of old, the fruits of the neo-Jacobins may do more to prop up the sorts of governments they are seeking to destroy than those governments could have ever done to maintain their own control–they have suddenly invested every Arab dictator’s rhetoric about order and stability with a new credibility that mocks the so-called logic of their puerile “swamp” metaphors.

Continue reading “Re: The Logical Next Step”

WND Seeks Friends

(submitted by Matt Kaufman)

On Tuesday, WorldNetDaily posted an Insight magazine story titled “Clarke’s Friends Say He’s Lost Credibility.” Curious to know just who these “friends” were, I went to find out: Being a journalist myself, I naturally assumed what any average reader would also assume – that a headline like that would back up its claim. The first paragraph repeated the charge, assuring us that it was speaking of “many” friends (“Many of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke’s friends are saying his anti-Bush diatribe has cost him his credibility”), but another paragraph passed, then two, then three – and still no names. I got down to the eighth paragraph, and there was the charge again (“many of his longtime friends are saying publicly that his anti-Bush diatribe has cost him his credibility”) – but STILL no names.

By now you won’t be surprised to learn that the names never did show up – nor even did a quote from an unnamed source, much less any of the “many” “friends” who’d spoken “publicly.”

But wait, this gets better. I e-mailed WorldNetDaily to call them on their blunder (the text of my e-mail is at the bottom of this note), and apparently it made a difference. When you go to the current version of the story you’ll find one thing has changed: The headline now speaks not of “friends” but of “colleagues” – referring, presumably, to people like Condoleeza Rice, who gets plenty of space in a story that’s essentially a hit job on Clarke. (He’s described by author J. Michael Waller as, among other things, “vitriolic”). But the text of the story hasn’t otherwise changed: Both references to “friends” are still there.

What about the Insight version of the story? Alas, I didn’t think to look on their site when it was first posted; it only occurred to me today (two days later), after I noticed WND’s change. Insight‘s story runs under a less sensational headline (“Holdovers Held Up Security Strategy”) and omits the first paragraph’s reference to “friends” – but it keeps the second reference (it’s the fourth paragraph, in Insight’s copy) and also repeats the “friends” charge in a photo caption at the top of the page.

Since I didn’t see Insight‘s original, I don’t know if someone at WND told someone at Insight, leading them to scramble to change their version (hurriedly cutting out the first paragraph but sloppily neglecting to change the later reference and the photo caption) or if they had the slightly less egregious version all along, while WND took raw, unedited copy straight from Waller. I find either explanation credible; Insight’s at least a bit more professional than WND. But if any of your readers have access to the latest Insight in its print edition, perhaps they can let us know. Insight‘s Web site makes it clear this is also the print cover story, so if they cleaned up online version after posting, they probably didn’t have the chance to do the same before they went to press. Anyone out there want to check it out?

Any way you slice it, this is a classic example of war hawks so eager (desperate, even) to smear anyone who spills the beans on the Bush administration that they’ll grab any accusation and run with it, bypassing even the most rudimentary journalistic standards. But then, there’s no real reason to be surprised. WND’s top headline, as I write, is “UFO Blasts Sky Like 50,000 Spotlights.”


Your site carries the headline “Clarke’s Friends Say He’s Lost Credibility,” and J. Michael Waller’s story under the same headline twice repeats the charge – adding that he’s speaking not just of a few friends, but of “many” of Clarke’s “longtime” friends. There’s just one tiny problem: The story never names a single one of them – nor does it even a quote a single unnamed “friend.” I know you’re eager to discredit Clarke (and all the other former government officials who’ve criticized the Bush Administration), but didn’t anyone on your staff bother to READ the story before posting it, especially under that sensational headline? Someone really should have, if only for your own sake. As it is, it’s WND that’s just taken a blow to its credibility.

~ Matt Kaufman

Jim Henley Must Die

Only joking, of course, and so is he. His April 1 hoax succeeds so brilliantly because it sounds just like Glenn Reynolds and the other warbloggers–well, actually, it’s much more coherent in its ridiculousness than any of those guys ever are. Priceless:

    But then I thought of Madrid. One detail has gotten lost. The killers detonated their bombs by cell phone. They themselves got off the train safely, though alert action by the Aznar government rounded several of them up in short order.

    They didn’t kill themselves too.

    Yes, they murdered hundreds. Yes they are evil men, mass murderers who should be killed after trial and sentencing. Yes, we have a long way to go. But they were not suicides like the destroyers of the Cole and Khobar Towers, the WTC hijackers and the numberless slaughterers of Jews in Israel and elsewhere. The President has already taught these aficionados of martyrdom to value their own lives, if not yet others. That’s progress. That’s a start. It is not, obviously, a final victory. But it’s proof that our government’s plan to change the culture of death is starting to work. Once our enemies realize the central principle of our own culture – that life is sweet – for themselves, then the next lesson is to apply the principle to others.

Blackwater’s Prophetic Logo

Blackwater Security Consulting, the firm that employed the four American “contractors” who were brutally killed in Fallujah yesterday, has an unusual logo which is quite prophetic.

The logo is one of a car on fire which has just blown up. Is this a typical occurrence for this company’s operations? Check out their Website.

On another of Blackwater’s Websites, is another very interesting logo.

Thanks to Tex for drawing this one to my attention to this one, located on UnFairWitness.