Friday, October 05, 2007

Shit First, Ask Questions Later

Blackwater USA founder and CEO, Erik Prince, former Navy SEAL and Michigan native told Congress:

No individual ever protected by Blackwater has ever been killed or seriously injured. There is no better evidence of the skill and dedication of these men,” Prince said, adding there was a “rush to judgment” on whether Blackwater had acted improperly. (“Congress grills Blackwater CEO”).

He said this on Tuesday to Rep. Henry Waxman’s House Oversight Committee. Waxman is no slouch when it comes to rushing to judgment, and immediately changed the subject from Blackwater's perfect record to the scandal that privatizing security in Iraq was “working exceptionally well for Blackwater,” meaning financially. (Just after saying this, and momentarily misunderstanding the name “Blackwater” to mean that the contractor was actually a large and greedy oil company, Waxman was only just yanked back by an alert staffer from promising into the mike that "I want to take those profits" and put them into Senator Clinton's strategic energy fund. )

In keeping with the Left’s modus operandi of taking their opponents’ every potential political bump, without regard for the complications of facts, and reducing it to a slogan that can be plastered with all the others onto the rear hatch of a 1979 Subaru, the charges being repeated now against the Blackwater company are that they are “cowboys,” "trigger-happy," and that they're “out of control,” Now, thanks in part to Waxman’s committee and the New York Times, we all know there is “a shoot-first, ask-question-later mentality on the part of Blackwater guards.” (“Firms in Iraq face court jurisdiction").

There were even charts being passed around to show how often Blackwater guards “fired first.”

ABC News explains (“Blackwater: Shoot First, Face Questions Later, Committee Says”)

Overall, the firm's soldiers-for-hire, working on contract to the U.S. government, have engaged in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq since 2005, the committee said. In 84 percent of such incidents, the committee said, Blackwater personnel fired first. The other firms, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, reported shooting first in 62 percent and 83 percent of their incidents, respectively.

State Department policy and U.S. law requires contractors to “engage in defensive uses of force” only to prevent “imminent and grave danger” to themselves or others, according to the committee's memo. But “the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are preemptive,” before the company's guards receive any incoming fire, the committee found.

Stated another way, critics of a “fire first” policy clearly favor either a “fire second” policy (which has proven successful in sport target-shooting where all contestants politely take turns), or a “fire-second-if-you-still-can policy.”

The Left's traction on this issue is due in part to Americans' overexposure to too much E! Channel and VH-1. It isn't quite clear enough that Blackwater "bodyguard" duty in Baghdad is not exactly comparable to bodyguard duty in say, Los Angeles, where Sonny and T-Bone’s primary mission is to protect J-Lo’s bottom from unauthorized pinching by the drunks on the other side of the velvet rope. (Don't ask how I know.) Blackwater’s primary mission is protecting US and other diplomatic personnel from getting assassinated by highly-aggressive, and suicidal, murderers in an extremely hostile urban combat zone.

Yet it turns out that Blackwater has in fact experimented with an “ask-questions-first, wait-for-incoming-fire-then-shoot-second” policy during one of its recent patrols. The results, which were mixed, were caught on a tape recovered from a destroyed SUV, and a transcript of which naturally, we at DU, have obtained.

The situation is a convoy of Blackwater vehicles on a mission to escort US Assistant Undersecretary of State for Baghdad Reconstruction Miles Tugo down the Iraqi capitol’s violent Haifa Street:

1st Guard: “ anyway, I don’t think I’ll forget my wedding anniversary again next year!”

Undersecretary: “Hey, guys, there’s the white pickup again.”

2nd Guard: “Yup. Definitely trying to cut us off.”

Undersecretary: “They’ve stopped. They’re getting out. I see guns!”

1st Guard: “Okay guys. You know the drill. Take up defensive positions.”

2nd Guard: “Roger. I’m going for that burned-out taxi over there.”

Undersecretary: “I can see at least four of them. They’re running straight at us!”

From distance:
“Allahu Akhbar! Allahu Akhbar!”

1st Guard: “Relax. Soon they’ll be close enough to that taxi where Zeke can start asking them questions one by one.”

Undersecretary: “Is that shooting! They’re all shooting at the car!”

1st Guard: “Not quite ready yet, Mr. Undersecretary. ”

Sounds of gunfire, and shouting, much closer:
“Allahu Akhbar!”

Undersecretary: “Why don’t you shoot?”

1st Guard: “Policy. First we ask questions. Then they get to shoot. Only then do we shoot.”

Sounds of shooting, very close: Ka-pow! ka-pow! ka-pow! ka-pow! “Allahu Akhbar! Allahu Akhbar!”

Undersecretary: “Questions? What kind of questions do you ask at a time like this? Aaaaakkk!”

1st Guard: “Are you okay, Mr. Secretary? Mr. Secretary? (Sounds of continuous gunfire). Zeke? Zeke? Talk to me! Zeke! Zeke? Can you help us out here, Zeke?”

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