Blackwater USA rankles the Geek no end. He considers the company to be nothing but a collection of robo-killers, trigger-pullers without adult supervision. He has repeatedly urged that the blood lust ridden band of condittore known as Blackwater and any other "security" company with a similar record of quick-to-draw-down and fast-to-bust-a-cap on someone be heaved out of Iraq instantly, if not sooner.
Blackwater's record as dusters of many has been documented by State Department figures. If you trust the MSM, take a dekko at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/28/world/middleeast/28contractors.html?th&emc=th. It appears that in this year alone, Blackwater's shooters are twice as quick to push the cancel button than their nearest rivals for the title of Mad Blaster of Iraq.
This single statistic, which ignores all other indicators showing Blackwater USA is run by a bunch of kill-em-all-and-let-the-deity-sort-it-out, wild-eyed boys, should have convinced the US Secretary of State to cancel their contract. That she has demanded a "full" investigation is not at all reassuring.
All too often the pages of US political history are littered with "full investigations" which turn out to be exercises in duplicity, obfuscation, and flat out cover and concealment.
Does the State Department want a success to emerge from the rubble of Iraq? The Geek certainly hopes so. But, he is sorely tasked to figure out why the Department, which contains many highly competent individuals, is so collectively gripless on the Blackwater bandits.
There is no doubt in the Geek's semi-military mind that the US could dredge up sufficient well-qualified military personnel to replace the Blackwater robo-shooters.
That thought brings up another bothersome little thing.
A court martial. See, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g-zT8WvZY-uYK3d-CARtfDJgnR-wD8RUHFJ00.
A court martial in Iraq acquitted Specialist Jorge Sandoval on charges of premeditated murder arising from Specialist Sandoval's role as a sniper. Sandoval shot and killed an Iraqi farmer after being ordered to do so by his sniper team leader, one Sergeant Hensley.
Hensley (who has yet to stand trial) apparently had determined to his personal satisfaction that the farmer was actually an insurgent who had been fighting only minutes earlier and was now attempting to disguise himself as a peace loving agriculturalist. He then ordered Sandoval to shoot the man and plant a roll of "command wire" (the type of electrical wire used for detonating command detonated mines) by the body as justification.
A key witness in the Sandoval matter was Sergeant Evan Vela, who is charged in another shooting case dating back to May. Sergeant Vela was ordered by Hensley to kill an unarmed Iraqi civilian who had stumbled across the snipers' position. When the first shot failed to kill the man, who had been holding his hands up, Hensley ordered Vela to finish the job. Vela did. Hensley then reportedly put an AK-47 next to the body.
Hensley, Vela, and Sandoval should be working for Blackwater. Or, perhaps they were trained by the same gripless people who train and supervise (if that is the right word) the Blackwater forces in the field.
Killing unarmed civilians, even if they are suspected insurgents is (or should be) an absolute no-no of the first rank. It is counterproductive to the max. It helps the bad guys. It hurts the cause of stability. It can even assure future friendly deaths.
Letting Sandoval off because he was only following orders was as supremely stupid as letting Blackwater's brigands stay in operation.
The Geek spent years in an insurgent environment. He is well aware of the ambiguities which exist in the insurgent-counterinsurgent farrago. He faced tough choices made in fractions of a second on whether or not to pull the trigger.
It is from this basis as well as his long and comprehensive study of the dynamics of insurgency and the requirements of successful counterinsurgency that the Geek is disturbed, deeply disturbed by the actions of Hensley, Vela, and Sandoval as well as the latter's acquital on the "following orders" ploy.
The Geek can't help but remember that the defense of following a superior's orders was specifically disallowed by the International Military Tribunal following World War II. He can't help but note that US military law provides for a subordinate to ignore a clearly illegal order.
If Sergeant Hensley's orders weren't illegal, the Geek has no idea what might be.
After Sandoval's acquittal, one of his military lawyers, Captain Craig Drummond said, "Today what the panel concluded was justice. This soldier is not guilty."
The captain was wrong. The verdict was folly. It hurt the US effort in Iraq. In some slight way, it hurt the US position throughout the world.
The continuation of Blackwater's operations in Iraq hurts our efforts. Blackwater's seeming support by the US State Department more than the actions of a single court martial of a single individual hurts the status of the US throughout the world.
The Geek has a message for Secretary of State Rice: Throw the bloody Blackwater bastards off your payroll!