الأربعاء، أكتوبر 24، 2007
الثلاثاء، أكتوبر 02، 2007
Report Says Firm Sought to Cover Up Iraq Shootings
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 — Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded, according to a new report from Congress.
In at least two cases, Blackwater paid victims’ family members who complained, and sought to cover up other episodes, the Congressional report said. It said State Department officials approved the payments in the hope of keeping the shootings quiet. In one case last year, the department 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 company guards have taken an aggressive, trigger-happy approach to their work and have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life.
But the report is also harshly critical of the State Department for exercising virtually no restraint or supervision of the private security company’s 861 employees in Iraq. “There is no evidence in the documents that the committee has reviewed that the State Department sought to restrain Blackwater’s actions, raised concerns about the number of shooting episodes involving Blackwater or the company’s high rate of shooting first, or detained Blackwater contractors for investigation,” the report states.
On Sept. 16, Blackwater employees were involved in a shooting in a Baghdad square that left at least eight Iraqis dead, an episode that remains clouded. The shooting set off outrage among Iraqi officials, who branded them “cold-blooded murder” and demanded that the company be removed from the country.
The State Department is conducting three separate investigations of the shooting, and on Monday the F.B.I. said it was sending a team to Baghdad to compile evidence for possible criminal prosecution.
Neither the State Department nor Blackwater would comment on Monday about the 15-page report, but both said their representatives would address it on Tuesday in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, whose Democratic staff produced the document. Based on 437 internal Blackwater incident reports as well as internal State Department correspondence, the report said Blackwater’s use of force was “frequent and extensive, resulting in significant casualties and property damage.”
Among those scheduled to testify Tuesday are Erik Prince, a press-shy former Navy Seal who founded Blackwater a decade ago, and several top State Department officials.
The committee report places a significant share of the blame for Blackwater’s record in Iraq on the State Department, which has paid Blackwater more than $832 million for security services in Iraq and elsewhere, under a diplomatic security contract it shares with two other companies, DynCorp International and Triple Canopy.
Blackwater has reported more shootings than the other two companies combined, but it also currently has twice as many employees in Iraq as the other two companies combined.
In the case of the Christmas Eve killing, the report says 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.”
The committee report also cited three other shootings in which Blackwater officials filed misleading reports or otherwise tried to cover up the shootings.
Since mid-2006, Blackwater has been responsible for guarding American diplomats in and around Baghdad, while DynCorp has been responsible for the northern part of the country and Triple Canopy for the south.
State Department officials said last week that Blackwater had run more than 1,800 escort convoys for American diplomats and other senior civilians this year and its employees had discharged their weapons 57 times. Blackwater was involved in 195 instances of gunfire from 2005 until early September, a rate of 1.4 shootings a week, the report says. In 163 of those cases, Blackwater gunmen fired first.
The report also says Blackwater gunmen engaged in offensive operations alongside uniformed American military personnel in violation of their State Department contract, which states that Blackwater guards are to use their weapons only for defensive purposes.
It notes that Blackwater’s contract authorizes its employees to use lethal force only to prevent “imminent and grave danger” to themselves or to the people they are paid to protect. “In practice, however,” the report says, “the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are pre-emptive, with Blackwater forces firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire.”
The report cites two instances in which Blackwater gunmen engaged in tactical military operations. One was a firefight in Najaf in 2004 during which Blackwater employees set up a machine gun alongside American and Spanish forces. Later that year, a Blackwater helicopter helped an American military squad secure a mosque from which sniper fire had been detected.
Blackwater has dismissed 122 of its employees over the past three years for misuse of weapons, drug or alcohol abuse, lewd conduct or violent behavior, according to the report. It has also terminated workers for insubordination, failure to report incidents or lying about them, and publicly embarrassing the company. One employee was dismissed for showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Senate on Monday gave final approval, 92 to 3, to a defense policy bill that included the establishment of an independent commission to investigate private contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill, which must be reconciled with a House version, faces a veto threat because it includes an expansion of federal hate-crimes laws.
James Risen, David Stout and David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting.
الاثنين، أكتوبر 01، 2007
Hypocrisy rules the West
By Paul Craig Roberts
10/01/07 "ICH" -- -- Shame has vanished from Western “civilization.” Hypocrisy has taken its place.
On September 28, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown could be heard on National Public Radio decrying the use of violence against democratic protesters by the government in Burma. Brown declared the British people’s revulsion over the violence inflicted by the Burmese government on its people. But Brown said nothing about the violence the British government was inflicting on Iraqis and Afghans.
George W. Bush also struck the blameless pose when he declared: “The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals.”
Bush and Brown do not have the same sympathy for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither Bush nor Brown stand in solidarity with those who are demanding their freedom from foreign occupation by American and British troops. Indeed, Bush and Brown, as commanders in chief, are on a killing spree that makes the government in Burma look extremely restrained by comparison.
Why were British soldiers sent to kill Iraqis and Afghans? September 11 had nothing whatsoever to do with the UK. No doubt but that the corrupt Tony Blair was paid off to drag the British people into Bush’s Middle East war for American/Israeli hegemony, but
Brown has done nothing to terminate Bush’s use of the British military as mercenaries.
The NPR announcers also supported the Burmese people, but they, too, show little disturbance over Bush’s five-year old wars that we now know were based entirely on lies. Al Qaeda is not the Taliban, and Iraq had no WMD. Neither country was a threat to the US. Now that we know this, why does the media still give Bush and Brown a free pass to use violence against Iraqis and Afghans?
To cut to the chase, what is the difference between Bush and Brown on one hand and the murderous Burmese government on the other? Bush and Brown are actually worse. They pretend to be democrats concerned with what people actually want. The Burmese government doesn’t pretend to be anything but a military dictatorship. Moreover, the Burmese government is clean by comparison as it hasn’t committed acts of naked aggression--war crimes under the Nuremberg standard--by invading other countries and attempting to occupy them.
Despite all the killing Bush has accomplished, he thirsts for yet more blood. Iran is in his and Israel’s sights. All indications are that Bush is going to attack Iran. Propaganda, demonizations, and crass lies are pouring out of the Bush regime and its media and academic propagandists such as Columbia University president Lee Bollinger. Both parties in Congress have lined up behind the coming attack on Iran. The despicable senator Joe Lieberman even snuck language into a bill to give Bush the go ahead.
Who is going to stop Bush from a third war crime? Not his vice president, Not his national security adviser, not his secretary of defense. Not his secretary of state. Not Congress. Not the US military. Not the corporate fat cats. Not the Israel Lobby. Not the bought and paid for “allies.” Not the anti-war movement. Not the American people. Certainly not the media. [ http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/081507K.shtml ]
Americans are content with whatever crimes their government commits as long as the justification is Americans’ safety.
Americans’ willingness to murder others out of fear for their own safety is a result of September 11. The antiwar movement is impotent, because it has accepted the government’s 9/11 story. To oppose a war when you accept the government’s reason for the war is an indefensible position.
The Bush regime knows that if people will believe its 9/11 story, they will believe anything. Propaganda silences facts, and Americans fall for one set of falsehoods after another. The alleged 9/11 hijackers all came from countries allied with the US, principally Saudi Arabia, but Americans believe the government’s lies that Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria are responsible. Americans have been convinced that without “regime change” in these countries, the American superpower will remain helpless in face of stateless Muslims armed with box cutters.
Americans have been brainwashed to believe that Muslims hate us for our “freedom and democracy,” whereas in fact the problem is the US government’s immoral foreign policy and interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. Bush’s message to the Middle East is clear: Be a puppet state or be destroyed.
In the meantime, to prevent democracy and civil liberties from getting in the way of making Americans safe, Bush has set aside habeas corpus, due process, right to legal representation, privacy, and the separation of powers mandated by the US Constitution. Otherwise, Bush says, we will lose the “war on terror.”
Bush says he has made Americans safe by ridding them of these constitutional impediments to their safety. And once American bombs fall on Iran and Syria, those countries will be free and democratic, too, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
In leading Americans to this conclusion, Bush has sunk the United States to a new low in human intelligence and morality.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice."
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Just as the enemies of Islaam thought inshallahshaheed would come to an end, we revived the media Jihaad by the will and permission of Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala, once again. Indeed this is a great favor and blessing from Him as this would make it the 3rd revival of inshallahshaheed. They can attack us 100 times if they want; in the end, they will see us coming from many different positions to continue the media Jihaad of speaking the truth. So let them bite their nails in frustration. We say to them: Perish in your rage O filthy disbelievers!
The enemies of Islaam - including those from amongst the Muslims - can’t stand our preaching of the Qur’aan and Sunnah and the reality on the ground in the major battlefields of the world. They will continue to plot and plan, and so does Allah, and He, Ta’aala, is the greatest of plotters and planners.
So spread the good news to the brothers and sisters.
And by the way, a message to all disbelievers from the bloggers of inshallahshaheed: It is time for all of you to get a new Religion. If you are a Christian or Jew, then admit that your book has too many contradictions. Stop wasting your time trying to figure us and the Mujaahideen out; rather, figure out what will happen to you after your death and muse upon this point subtly.
You will stand accountable in front of the Lord of all the worlds, the King of all the Kings, the Creator of all Creators, the one and only true God, Allah. He knows what you say and do, and He knows your innermost secrets which you hide from the people with shame.
Come to the Religion where if you intend to do a good deed but don’t do it, you are rewarded with many deeds on your scale. And if you intend a good deed and do it, then it can reach anywhere between 10 to 700 times in reward; and if Allah wills, His Mercy can go beyond that. And if you intend to do a bad deed, but don’t do it, you get rewarded heavily from the All-Merciful. And if you intend to do a bad deed and do it, then it is written as only one bad deed. But none of this is possible whilst you persist in your disbelief of Islaam.
And no, Jesus (peace be upon him) did not die for your sins. Assuming if he did, then it is safe to say that Hitler went to Paradise, if he was a Christian. In our Religion - the Religion of Justice and Common Sense - every being is accountable for their own sins and nobody carries the burden of any other. Therefore, it is Christianity which has destroyed today’s society in America. It was Christianity that allowed its Priests to sexual assault young boys since Jesus supposedly died for their sins. It was Christianity that allowed Bush to murder thousands upon thousands of innocent lives in ‘Iraaq, and Afghanistan since Jesus supposedly died for his sins. It was Christianity that allowed the American society to sway towards evil deeds - such as theft, murder, rape, abortion, drug use, alcohol use, etc. - since Jesus supposedly died for everyones sins! Shame on you, O leaders of the Christian Religion! Shame on all the faithful followers of Christianity! In the noble Religion of Islaam, we have a practical concept called al-Walaa’ wal Baraa’ah which is to love for the sake of Allah, to hate for the sake of Allah, and to therefore act upon it by enjoining the right and eradicating the evil.
So come, O disbelievers in the truth, come to the Religion of Islaam! On the Day of Judgment - the day where the hair of a child would turn gray because of the great fear - you will receive a book. And what will tell you what this book is? It is the book of accounts. You will open it and say to yourself, “Unbelievable! In this book is written down deeds of mines - both good and bad - that are so minute that I had never imagined…” And this is because the Angel on your left shoulder writes down your bad deeds whereas the one on your right shoulder writes down all your good deeds.
So come to the Religion where Allah does not distinguish between a fat and thin person, between a black and white person, between a tall and short person, between a man and a woman, except in piety. We, the Muslims, desire to live in a society of Godliness, justice and piety and not one of corruption, cheating, dirty politics, economic destruction based on interest and usury, shamelessness, blasphemy in the name of freedom of speech and a cowardly military led by a government full of crooks. So we call you to the opposite of what Bush and his cronies call you to; we call you to Islaam. Democracy has failed mankind because of its loopholes (like their Bibles and Torah’s), and Islaam - O what a Religion - when it only needs the proper men!
So it is time for you, O Disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, to come to Islaam before death overtakes you and strikes you when you least expect it. Every soul will taste death. Convert to Islaam, or face the eternal punishment in the fire where Allah will replace your burnt skin, over and over again, in order for you to feel the pain… the pain of failing to realize the reality of this world that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His last Messenger. Don’t allow yourself to become like those losers who will say to Allah, “Now we see and know the truth! Woe to us! Only if You, O Lord, put us back into the earth so that we may live as Muslims…” when Allah will reject it and throw you into the fire saying, “Were you not warned?”
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Please don’t forget us in your du’as.
وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لا يَعْلَمُونَ
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