Â " The American people are not getting the full story about the role and scope of military contractors in Iraq.Â Under current law, Congress canâ€™t even get a straight answer from the Pentagon about how many contractors are operating inside of Iraq, and yet the American taxpayer is expected to foot the bill.Â According to some estimates, there are as many as a 100,000 military contractors operating inside Iraq.Â Forty cents of every Dollar goes to private military contractors,Â 1001 were killed in Iraq but we don't really know because their numbers aren't counted. "Â Â Illionis state Represenative Jan Schakowsky
Military Contractors areÂ often referred to as a "shadow army" which allows them full military capabilities with the benefit of immunity. Acting in Iraq as a private police force they areÂ granted the ability to kill with disregard to national or international law. The largest of the Department ofÂ DefensesÂ three private militaryÂ contractors is Blackwater, aÂ private military company founded in 1997 by Al Clark and Erik Prince, a former Navy SealÂ and White House intern.Â Â Their state of the art training facility is located on 6,000 acres of wetland near the North Carolina border and the company is named after the dark colored water of the surroundingÂ swamp.Â Last year they renamed themselves Blackwater Worldwide, training more than 40,000 people a year, mostly from U.S. or foreign military and police services. With ninety percent of their revenue coming from Governmental Contracts. Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320Â million out of a $1Â billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service.
Blackwater's work in IraqÂ has drawn contractors from their international pool of professionals, a database containing "21,000 former Special Forces operatives, soldiers, and retired law enforcement agents." Although their services are used to protect the Pentagon, the US Embassy in Iraq and Government Representatives. The highly trained private security contractors also support US military operationsÂ but areÂ typically earning far more pay than enlisted personnel. And their services have not come without controversey and criticism.
On March 31, 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah attacked a convoy containing four American private military contractors from Blackwater USA who were conducting delivery for food caterers. The four unarmed contractors were attacked and killed. Their bodies were hung from a bridge crossing. This event was one of the causes of the US military attack on the city in the First Battle ofÂ Fallujah.Â Â In the fall of 2007, the House Oversight Committe released a congressional reportÂ that found that Blackwater intentionally "delayed and impeded" investigations into the contractors' deaths.
On Christmas Eve 2006, a security guard of the Iraqi vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was shot and killed while on duty outside the Iraqi prime minister's compound. The Iraqi government accused an employee of Blackwater USA, Andrew Moonen of murdering him while drunk. Moonen was subsequently fired by Blackwater for "violating alcohol and firearm policy", and travelled from Iraq to the United States days after the incident.
On February 6, 2006Â a sniper employed by Blackwater Worldwide opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, killing three guards working for the state-funded Iraqui Media Network. According to 13 witnesses, the guards had not fired on the Justice Ministry. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as "an act of terrorism" and said Blackwater "caused the incident."
On September 16, 2007 Blackwater employees in Nisour Square, Baghdad shot and killed 17Â Iraqis, at least 14 of whom were killed "without cause" according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The US State Department has said that "innocent life was lost"[while U.S. military reports indicate Blackwater's guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force. No charges have beenÂ enforced.Â Iraqi Media Network concluded that the guards were killed "without any provocation." The U.S. State Department, based on information obtained from Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, determined that the security team's actions "fell within approved rules governing the use of force."
In late May 2007, Blackwater contractors opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days, one of the incidents provoking a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi Interior Ministry commandos, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. Blackwater employees shot an Iraqi civilian deemed to have been "driving too close" to a State Department convoy that was being escorted by Blackwater contractors on May 30th.Â The president of the International Peace Operations AssociationÂ ("IPOA"), Doug Brooks, a trade group representing Blackwater and other military contractors, said that in his view military law would not apply to Blackwater employees working for the State Department.
Between 2005 and September 2007, Blackwater security staff were involved in 195 shooting incidents; in 163 of those cases, Blackwater personnel fired first. 25 members of staff have been fired for violations of Blackwater's drug and alcohol policy and 28 more for weapons-related incidents.
The issue with hiring private security and military contactors like Blackwater is in creating and training a private military and type ofÂ police forceÂ that believes they are "above the law."Â Directly afterÂ Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, there were reports that BlackwaterÂ entered the city the next day,Â "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals."Â Carrying automatic assault weapons and had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with pouches for extra ammunition." They were on Contract for Department of Homeland Security.Â
CBS reported, "Mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions. Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.Â
A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn's hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn's security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn's associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from "black gangbangers" on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. "At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner," he recalls. "I dropped the phone and returned fire."
Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. "After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said."
Then, Montgomery says, "the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn't even care. They just left." Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on "how they could get out of the city." Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. "One thing about security," Montgomery says, "is that we all coordinate with each other â€” one family."
Hmmm,Â a military / security force immune from the law, enacting in civilian matters on United States soil.Â Abusing the civil liberties of United States citizens, the Constitution and the Posse Comitatus Act.
â€œIn a police state the police are national, powerful, authoritarian. Inevitably, national governments yield to the temptation to use the military to do the heavy liftingâ€¦.once the military is used, however minor initially, the march toward martial law â€¦ becomes irresistible.â€ - Representative Ron Paul of Texas - June 25 1997.
"On Tuesday, 0/06/05 President Bush warned the nation that outbreaks of Bird Flu may require massive quarantines enforced by the US Military. He said that the military would be better able "to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the flu", although he failed to explain why that task couldn't be carried out by the National Guard. Bush's comments echoed the same themes we've heard repeatedly since Hurricane Katrina, that the president needs the power to deploy troops within the country at his own discretion and without any legal restrictions. It is a conspicuous attempt to militarize the country and declare martial law, although the media has scrupulously avoided the obvious conclusions.Â "
Let usÂ further explore the Posse Comitatus Act, and why it became illegal for members of the armed forces to be involved inÂ civil matters unless directed by theÂ President or Congress.Â The law was enacted as a result of the election of 1876, which was the event that ended the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The law was to overturn an 1854 opinion of the attorney general overÂ conflict within the United States about Slavery and the Union.
The posse comitatus doctrine comes from English common law. Posse comitatus means, literally, the â€œforce of the countyâ€; the posse comitatus is that body of men above the age of 15 whom the sheriff or marshal may summon or raise to repress a riot or for other purposes. Basically, the sheriff and the U.S. Marshals in the South during Reconstruction were heavily utilized by the Ku Klux Klan to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, capture and abuse "run away" slaves:
"BE IT enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the persons who have been, or may hereafter be, appointed commissioners, in virtue of any act of Congress, by the Circuit Courts of the United States, and Who, in consequence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that any justice of the peace, or other magistrate of any of the United States, may exercise in respect to offenders for any crime or offense against the United States, by arresting, imprisoning, or bailing the same under."
Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 in a dispute over the use of Federal Troops by U.S. marshals in the South. Based on precedent, Attorney General Charles Devens took the position that the U.S. Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized U.S. marshals to raise a posse 'slave hunt'Â comitatus comprising every person in a district above 15 years of age, â€œincluding the military of all denominations, militia, soldiers, marines, all of whom are alike bound to obey the commands of a Sheriff or Marshal.â€ So if your Sheriff or Marshal were a also a Ku Klux Klan member, you had better run. However, Congress had become disenchanted with the habit of U.S. marshals and sheriffs to "press Army troops into their service without the approval of the commander in chief." The Southern slave ownersÂ in particular questioned this policy.Â On 27 May 1878, Representative J. Proctor Knott of Kentucky introduced an amendment to the Army appropriations bill; the amendment eventually became the Posse Comitatus Act. In passing the act, the Congress voted to restrict the ability of U.S. marshals and local sheriffs to conscript military personnel into their posses. Use of troopsÂ was allowed only ifÂ authorized by the President or Congress to prevent abuse by law enforcement.
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
-Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385
In 2006, Congress passed and the president signed the Military Commissions Act (MCA),Â by doing so, they cast aside the Constitution and the Posse Comitatus Act. They also gave the president absolute power to designate "enemy combatants," which now includes US citizens,Â and to set his own definitions for torture. NowÂ Bush and the Attorney General are after the Writ of Habeus Corpus,Â which protects citizens against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.Â Â Declaring Martial Law is the next step in the process.
Write your SenatorÂ TODAY about:
1) Repealing the legislation to 'Overturn Posse Comitatus'
2) Defend the Writ of Habeus Corpus and your right to due process of law
3) Just say NO to Martial LawÂ and private military / security troops on civilian territory.
Whether we like it or not; Republican, Democrat, Independent Party, Christian, Muslim, Atheist or Jew etc, we will each have to take aÂ STAND for ourselves, our friends, our family and our country before agencies like Blackwater stand on our doorstep and our Government declares Martial Law.
WhenÂ Freedom meets Slavery andÂ LibertyÂ meets Revolution; Â Â
"Civil Disobedience will Not be Tolerated."Â
Sources: Schakowsky Uncovers 1,001 Contractor Deaths in Iraq , Command Responsibility, Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive, Â www.blackwaterusa.com , Blackwater DownÂ ,Â Police State, Private Security Contractors Head to Gulf-Washington Post, CBS- Blackwater Down ,Â