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September 23, 2007

Blackwater denies corporate involvement in arms smuggling

The world's most powerful mercenary army, Blackwater USA, denies any corporate involvement in arms smuggling to Kurdish guerillas:

In a statement issued Saturday, Blackwater admitted that the two former employees accused of trafficking arms had been fired for stealing company property and turned them over to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

The former employees are accused of trafficking arms to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The US State Department designates the PKK as a "notable terrorist organization in Iraq" and describes it as follows in a 2006 report from the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism:

Kongra-Gel/PKK:The Kurdistan Workers Party (Kongra-Gel/PKK) is a Marxist-Leninist group with roots in Turkey seeking a pan-national Kurdish state carved out of majority Kurdish populated areas. The existence of Kongra-Gel/PKK operatives in northern Iraq continued to be a source of friction between Turkey and Iraq.

In other Blackwater-related news, ABC is reporting that the Iraqi government claims that video footage substantiates allegations that Blackwater mercenaries fired on Iraqi civilians without provocation. The AP is reporting that the government has such a videotape, not just that they claim to have one.


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Why, that's a problem associated with using mercenaries to occupy a failed state that had geniunely never occurred to me. Of course, there are sufficient other problems created by this policy that it was already a bad, poorly-conceived idea.

But honestly, it never crossed my mind that one thing the mercs could do that would pervert our foreign policy that they hadn't been caught doing--beyond war crimes, profiteering, etc--was to hire individuals who would take money to deliberately subvert the State Dept's plans for the region.

Such as they are. They were poorly thought out plans which were likely destined for failure regardless. However, the fact that we've outsourced so many vital functions that the Blackwater employees who did this can't be tried for treason--because they didn't take an oath to protect and defend, they take a paycheck and can be bribed--is just mindboggling. Yeah, let's throw the book at the two guys who got caught trafficking in weapons, but Blackwater employees shouldn't be in this position to begin with.

I have to go soak my head now. In vodka.

What's awesome is that Blackwater's denial is top dead center on their website right now. So for anyone who wonders who these Blackwater people are and goes to their website to find out learns that they are in the position of having to deny weapons trafficing in Iraq.

Wait - I thought Iran was the evil party funding guerillas. Now that it turns out to be Blackwater after all, I say we nuke them!

Sorry, I just felt a brief surge of neocon thinking there. It passes, thankfully.

I think you are right on target. This is a serious problem, for lots of reasons. Colonel W. Patrick Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007 argues that "All mercenaries in Iraq should be subject to UCMJ.." I think he is right.

US federal prosecutors were investigating whether any Blackwater staff had shipped weapons, night-vision scopes, armour, gun kits and other equipment to Iraq, without the required permits. [My bolds]

There, I believe, is the key. I dunno how the arms trade works in the US, but here in the UK there are so many loopholes in the laws covering arms deals that you could use them as a fishing net. The usual trick is to route them via an intermediary (often a subsidiary business unit) located in a country with even less rigorous controls. The other thing is that it turns out to be surprisingly easy to get "the required permits".

For anyone with an interest in this sort of thing, I can highly recommend Mark Thomas' book "As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela" (the title is an actual quote from an actual arms catalogue), which is an exposé of the arms trade that manages to be both horrifying and funny at the same time, involving such hilarious japes as helping Catholic schoolkids set up illegal arms deals as part of an extracurricular project, or posing as a defence minister for some authoritarian hell-hole window shopping for torture equipment at the DSEI arms fair.

aaahhhh, yes... where would we be without the Milo Minderbinders of the world?
"PEACE?.. Where's the money in THAT?" ^..^

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