NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Accounting for Blackwater

Blackwater case highlights legal uncertainties

Roughly 100,000 American contractors are working in Iraq, but there has yet to be a prosecution for a single incident of violence, according to Scott Horton, a specialist in the law of armed conflict who teaches at Columbia University.

“Imagine a town of 100,000 people, and there hasn’t been a prosecution in three years,” Mr. Horton said. “How do you justify the fact that you aren’t addressing this?”

One remedy is not being discussed: the State Department can waive immunity for contractors and let the case be tried in the Iraqi courts under Order 17, which is the section of the Transitional Administrative Law approved in 2004 that gives contractors immunity.

L. Paul Bremer III, who supervised the drafting of the immunity order as administrator of the United States occupation authority, said: “The immunity is not absolute. The order requires contractors to respect all Iraqi laws, so it’s not a blanket immunity.” [complete article]

See also, State Dept. may phase out Blackwater (AP).

Editor’s Comment — While the moral, legal, and political dimensions of the Blackwater story have been given most attention, the other part to which there are merely allusions is Blackwater as an expression of American culture. Yet the fantasies being lived out by that these “GI Joe-looking guys” — “They think they’re bloody Rambo!” — are not simply products of youthful imagination. Blackwater’s Iraqi rampage has been inspired as much, if not more, by Hollywood as by 9/11 and a Pentagon addicted to outsourcing.

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