Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

So this is how we are winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people:

The committee staff report said Blackwater guards had engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, and in the vast majority of cases the guards fired their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded. In at least two cases, Blackwater paid victims’ family members who complained, and the company sought to cover up other episodes, the report said.

The staff report said that State Department officials approved the payments in the hope of keeping the shootings quiet, and in one case last year, helped Blackwater spirit an employee out of Iraq less than 36 hours after the employee, while drunk, killed a bodyguard for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents on Christmas Eve.

The report by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee adds weight to complaints from Iraqi officials, American military officers and Blackwater’s competitors that the company’s guards have taken an aggressive, trigger-happy approach to their work and have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life.

In the case of the Christmas Eve killing, the report said that an official of the United States Embassy in Iraq suggested paying the slain bodyguard’s family $250,000, but a lower-ranking official said that such a high payment “could cause incidents with people trying to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family’s future.” Blackwater ultimately paid the dead man’s family $15,000.

In another fatal shooting cited by the committee, an unidentified State Department official in Baghdad urged Blackwater to pay the victim’s family $5,000. The official wrote, “I hope we can put this unfortunate matter behind us quickly.”

And we thought Abu Ghraib made us look bad.  Our government hired mercenaries at Blackwater along with their pals in the State Department are doing their best to make us look even worse.

The price for murdering a guy started at $250,000 (pretty low by U.S. Standards) and quickly dropped to $15,000 so as not to encourage people to commit suicide to enrich their families after they willingly provoke Blackwater security guards to kill them.

That kind of reminds me of some scenes in the Hearts and Minds documentary where they talked about how the government and the media spread propaganda about how the people of Vietnam did not value human life – that their lives were worth nothing.  It was bullshit of course, just like this is. 

Do they really think that there would be a rash of Iraqis volunteering themselves to get shot for a couple hundred thousand dollars?  I don’t think so…

So the price went down to $15,000 and then to $5,000 at the urging of an anonymous State Department official.  That’s great.  Our military doesn’t count Iraqi fatalities, and our hired guns aren’t accountable to anyone, until now I guess, and when they start shooting, they pretty much unload and leave any wounded innocent bystanders to fend for themselves.

When they are confronted by grieving family members, they hand out $5,000.  Not even enough to buy a decent used car.

They don’t seem to be following their own “Core Values.”

P.S.  Says here that Erik Prince, Chairman and CEO of Blackwater, is a fundamentalist Christian.  Guess that means God gave him a license to kill.

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