Guns

Blackwater Behaving Badly

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You'd think a corporation with such a shady reputation would be more conscious of public relations. Then again, when your biggest client is the government, maybe PR isn't all that important.

First, Blackwater has found a way around federal restrictions on private ownership of automatic weapons by buying 17 AK-47s and 17 Bushmasters XM15 E2S rifles, then giving them to a local sheriff's department–but on the condition that the guns be stored at Blackwater facilities, and can be used by Blackwater employees.

Second, the company is attempting to duck a lawsuit by the widows of three U.S. soldiers killed while traveling on a plane operated by a Blackwater subsidiary in Afghanistan. Blackwater is arguing that the lawsuit should be governed by Shari'a law, which doesn't allow for lawsuits against companies for the actions of their employees.

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  1. No! NO! You anti-Americans make me sick.
    Where is your sense of national honor!?

  2. “First, Blackwater has found a way around federal restrictions on private ownership of automatic weapons by buying 17 AK-47s and 17 Bushmasters XM15 E2S rifles, then giving them to a local sheriff’s department–but on the condition that the guns be stored at Blackwater facilities, and can be used by Blackwater employees.”

    I’m going to file this under, “Why didn’t I think of that”.

  3. Tim beat me to the money comment.

  4. Yet two more examples that show that the letter of the law and the spirit of the law are completely different things.

    And yes, Tim, I think we were all thinking what you were thinking there.

  5. Oh my Allah! Those LGF people were right about the creeping dhimmitude after all.

    I’ll never diss a genocidal freak again.

  6. such a shady reputation

    Um, that ‘reputation’ is mostly from the likes of Slate and The Nation, but okay if you want to jump in with those folk. It is your opinion and all that.

    Blackwater is arguing that the lawsuit should be governed by Shari’a law, which doesn’t allow for lawsuits against companies for the actions of their employees.

    I would chalk this up to the shifty lawyer column. If this is their best defense then I kinda doubt they have much of a defense. Wonder if they tried other defenses not allowed by the judge? Have heard of that in the past in other cases.

    Something they have not yet gotten beaten up for (that I know of) is their application process. They really deserve to get some heat for asking for Social Security Account Numbers online. Their excuse is that they need to verify clearances with that information.

    Sorry Blackwater, I have been in this industry since 1994, almost every position required a Secret or better and every employer was able to wait until after the interview for the Security Officers of either the Army Reserve or a previous employer transmit the actual documentation of my clearance to them.

    However, they did get my e-mail address and on occasion I get spammed with “Friends of Blackwater” solicitations for hats and t-shirts.

    Funny (to me) side note, one day near the Pentagon Metro I saw a tall fellow, nice suit and tie, who looked as much like Ezra Klein as anybody could possibly look (I had no idea that Mr. Klein was not tall in reality, can’t tell from seeing him on MSNBC), wearing a Blackwater baseball cap. Was a bizarro moment.

  7. So what?

  8. Now, now, there’s no need to worry. I’m sure that the widows of infidel military invaders can get a fair trial in Afghanistan.

  9. Two issues here:

    1. What Tim and everyone else said.

    2. Im no legal scholar, but since the incident occured in Afghanistan, doesnt it make sense to try the case in Afghanistan? Isnt that the proper jurisdiction?

  10. I have to agree with “Office of the Attorney General” (though for different reasons.)

    First, is this still a libertarian journal or has Welch taken it completely to the left? I thought that finding legal ways around restrictive gun laws was something to be ENCOURAGED.

    Second, if you’d read the first fucking line of the article, Blackwater is arguing that the case “is governed by the law of Afghanistan.” In other words, they’re saying that since the alleged activity occurred in Afghanistan, Afghan law, not U.S. law, should apply. It’s a pretty standard procedural tactic. It may work, it may not, but it isn’t like BW’s lawyers are just pulling something out of nowhere there.

    Honestly, I expect this sort of specious reasoning and ad hominem attacks from Welch, but Mr. Balko, I’m a little disappointed in you.

  11. jkp,

    Second, if you’d read the first fucking line of the article,

    We have some traditions here and you are stomping all over one of them.

    Honestly, I expect this sort of specious reasoning and ad hominem attacks from Welch, but Mr. Balko, I’m a little disappointed in you.

    Another tradition is asking if one is new here when they write something like that 😉

  12. I’m with jkp on both points.

  13. Blackwater’s “shady reputation” consists entirely of how scary the word “Blackwater” sounds to paranoid idiots.

  14. Normally I’d be all for undermining gun control laws, but it makes me nervous when a quasi-governmental mercenary army with a history of misbehavior and political connections that shield them from legal accountability is the only group allowed to do so.

    Balko can do better on the alliteration front, though.

  15. First, is this still a libertarian journal or has Welch taken it completely to the left? I thought that finding legal ways around restrictive gun laws was something to be ENCOURAGED.

    Not when it means that (a) a private company is arming a local police department with high-power weapons that even the National Tactical Officers Association says aren’t necessary, and (b) said company is primarily a government contractor that carries out government policies, including overseas drug interdiction. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to arm the citizenry, not to arm quasi-private corporations that essentially work for the government.

    Second, if you’d read the first fucking line of the article, Blackwater is arguing that the case “is governed by the law of Afghanistan.” In other words, they’re saying that since the alleged activity occurred in Afghanistan, Afghan law, not U.S. law, should apply. It’s a pretty standard procedural tactic. It may work, it may not, but it isn’t like BW’s lawyers are just pulling something out of nowhere there.

    Given that “defeating Islamic fundamentalism” is the stated reason we’re fighting in the Middle East in the first place, it seems a bit disingenuous for a military contractor to invoke Shari’a law to avoid liability in the deaths of U.S. troops for which independent agencies have said the company is likely liable.

  16. Blackwater is STILL able to subvert the law through its cozy government relations? That is just disgusting.

    Say Obama. Tell me how you’re going to usher in an era of change and shed light on the military industrial complex.

  17. You’d think a corporation with such a shady reputation…

    A shady reputation according to who? You seem to be swallowing some leftist slander wholesale.

    I am not necessarily a huge fan of Blackwater but I don’t think they deserve half the crap they receive for providing the service that they contracted for. Perhaps the government should stop private contracting and start hiring permanent employees instead?

  18. Maybe you didn’t think of it because no unconnected indivdual — even with an FFL — would have ever dared to try it?
    JMR

  19. I seem to remember previous incidents where Blackwater was accused of killing civilians where Blackwater claimed that they should be tried in the US and not in the country in question. Is that right?

  20. Well the last thing I would want to be is a female blackwater employee in Afghanistan after reading this.

  21. It always amuses me to be reminded that there are people who can simultaneously cheerlead for Blackwater, congratulate themselves for how much they care about Iraqi civilians, and view themselves as skeptics of government.

  22. I thought that finding legal ways around restrictive gun laws was something to be ENCOURAGED.

    If private citizens not affiliated with the state can find novel legal ways around our unconstitutional gun laws, that’s fantastic.

    But to me, this story sounds more like, “The government doesn’t want to enforce the law [that the rest of us are subject to] against their pet mercenaries, so they’re finding ways to allow their pet mercenaries to break the law, but no one else.”

    This to me is more like the fact that I am bound by all sorts of consumer privacy laws, and would be punished if I broke them, but the government lets its accomplices in law breaking violate those privacy laws with impunity. I think there might be a pattern starting to emerge here.

  23. I was initially somewhat positive about private contractors, as I felt that if they fucked up, the government would immediately throw them to the wolves and say “see, they fucked up, not us!”, providing the contractor with a powerful incentive to play it straight. However, I failed to predict the incredibly sneaky way in which Bush & Co. instead used the “private” companies to hide things that would be much more transparent if done by the military.

    These are not really private companies any more. Once they have this much political patronage, they become essentially a private executive branch army. That is BAD.

  24. For the most vivid example of why selective enforcement of laws like this is a bad thing, remember the spectacle of New Orleans after Katrina, when Blackwater personnel were running around neighborhoods with high-powered rifles “confronting” criminals at the same time the police were confiscating weapons from private citizens. Think of Blackwater as a government-enforced security monopoly.

  25. I think that a lot of Blackwater’s bad PR is just spillover from disgust at the Bush administration.

    For example, contractors in Iraq are exempt from local law and immune from damages. Blackwater had no power to put such a system in place themselves; it was put in place by the Bush administration. But when people think “Blackwater” they think “mercs walking around Iraq who can do whatever they want and the local people just have to shut up and take it” and this naturally creates a negative image.

    Blackwater also soaks up bad PR because they’re the “famous” contractor name, so whenever anything sordid happens connected to contractors it ends up damaging Blackwater’s PR. That whole “female contractors can’t sue for damages if their coworkers rape them while in Iraq” story didn’t help contractor PR in general.

  26. In addition to being lawless mercenaries overseas.

  27. Personally, I just chalk this up as another *win* for the privatization of the Military.

    Yes, I do.

  28. These are not really private companies any more. Once they have this much political patronage, they become essentially a private executive branch army. That is BAD.

    What an important distinction to be lost on so many people.

    Why use Blackwater or any other mercenary service when you have tens of thousands of troops in country? To break laws and get away with it, of course.

  29. Mr. Balko,

    Given that “defeating Islamic fundamentalism” is the stated reason we’re fighting in the Middle East in the first place, it seems a bit disingenuous for a military contractor to invoke Shari’a law to avoid liability in the deaths of U.S. troops for which independent agencies have said the company is likely liable.

    Somehow the new Afghan government is an “Islamic Fundamentalist” one now? Or did you mean something different? Seems that there is some difference between Afghan law and Shari’a law, for one.

  30. FWIW, if anybody can not tell from my forst comment on this thread, I am no Blackwater fan and i have heard nothing positive about them from my EvilMilitaryIndustrialComplex cohorts who have worked around them.

    Also, as needs to be stated and I am sure ignored again, every “bad” incident I have seen in the press was from Blackwater employees under State Department contracts, NOT DOD contracts, working under State Department guidelines and oversight.

    I know, it does not matter to folks who think scary guns and scary uniforms make one “paramilitary”, so might as well skip it.

  31. Blackwater is arguing that the lawsuit should be governed by Shari’a law, which doesn’t allow for lawsuits against companies for the actions of their employees.

    You can’t make up stuff this good.

  32. Color me impressed with Blackwater’s legal team.

    I would chalk this up to the shifty good lawyer column. If this is their best defense then I kinda doubt they have much of a defense. Wonder if they tried other defenses not allowed by the judge?

    This strikes me as a procedural motion that would be filed very early in the lawsuit. I doubt its their only defense.

    Why use Blackwater or any other mercenary service when you have tens of thousands of troops in country?

    To provide security where it is not part of the military’s mission, perhaps?

  33. Um, that ‘reputation’ is mostly from the likes of Slate and The Nation, but okay if you want to jump in with those folk. It is your opinion and all that.

    You do occasionally pick up the paper and read it, don’t you? I only ask because that statement would lead one to believe that you don’t.

  34. To provide security where it is not part of the military’s mission, perhaps?

    Could be that the Congress never authorized adiquate, organic, security forces to the STATE DEPARTMENT and the STATE DEPARTMENT does not seem to like the Defense Department being in charge of their security much, save for the occasional embassy Marine guards.

  35. Guess what people? If, for example, you’re a resident of Kentucky and you’re driving through Colorado when someone hits you (doesn’t matter if that person is from Vietnam, Kentucky or Colorado), the case would be heard in Colorado. As a lawyer, it doesn’t make sense to me how that is suspicious. It’s where the accident happened. The courts have jurisdiction.

    As for the guns, isn’t there an exception under the gun laws that companies training authorized individuals can even manufacture those weapons? Again, it doesn’t make sense to me why a company would get slammed for storing weapons for a local sheriff’s department when the same company can make the weapons, if they so choose.

  36. JsD,

    Yes, I do but for the sake of brevity I skipped WWS, the Times Syndicate, and a host of others.

    Lovely technique btw. Straight from the playground?

  37. To provide security where it is not part of the military’s mission, perhaps?

    Which begs the question, why isn’t providing security in a war zone part of the military’s job?

    I’d like to think the answer had to do with numbers of available troops, but it’s not as though they just started doing this once the mission dragged on an the military became strained.

  38. Perhaps if the Sheriff’s department had to follow strict zoning laws . . .

  39. Guy, you made the assertation that Blackwater’s reputation in MSM was something other than shady. That is complete bullshit. Where did you learn that technique? The Bush administration?

  40. JsD,

    No Eisenstein, I asserted the opposite, as I am free to do with my own opinion.

    Now I shall ignore you for the joe clone tha you are.

  41. LoL.

    Careful, J sub, now he’s going to start scanning threads for your comments and immediately replying with off-topic asides that vaguely reference you, while continually asserting that he doesn’t read your comments.

  42. Now I shall ignore you for the joe clone tha you are.

    And Guy’s uncanny ability to discern people’s position in the political spectrum is once again displayed for all to see.

    Doesn’t fellate the neocons = leftist/progressive/liberal. Fucking brilliant analysis.

  43. while continually asserting that he doesn’t read your comments

    That part is what makes him amazing. He doesn’t read your comments. He reads YOUR MIND!

    (Come on GM… J sub D = joe? That’s just bad math.)

  44. joe,
    What can I say?

  45. SF,

    Well, perhaps clone was the wrong word, I was referring to the similar trolling technique.

  46. I’m perfectly fine with subjecting Blackwater to Afghan and Iraqi laws.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to subject their #1 customer to Afghan and Iraqi laws.

    This could be fun.

  47. J sub D,

    You can bask in the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing that Guy Montag considers you to be on the other side.

    It’s like Jesus putting his PE stamp on your intellect.

  48. For example, contractors in Iraq are exempt from local law and immune from damages.

    Um… WTF? Either they’re subject to local law or American law… right? Which is it?

  49. “Guess what people? If, for example, you’re a resident of Kentucky and you’re driving through Colorado when someone hits you (doesn’t matter if that person is from Vietnam, Kentucky or Colorado), the case would be heard in Colorado.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s not the law anywhere. The place of residence of the defendant generally has jurisdiction.

  50. Um… WTF? Either they’re subject to local law or American law… right? Which is it?

    It seems to depend on the reporter and what axe they are grinding in a particular article.

    Every job I have interviewed for, to work in Afghanistan or Iraq, the company made it abundantly clear that I would be subject to UCMJ and other appropriate American laws. However, these were all DoD contracts, not DoS contracts and the last one was over one year ago.

  51. Um… WTF? Either they’re subject to local law or American law… right? Which is it?

    Part of the problem was that this incident wasn’t in Iraq, but Afghanistan. Yes, actions by private contractors in Iraq are subject to the American justice system, but that isn’t the case (yet) in Afghanistan.

  52. The bad rep Blackwater gets seems misdirected resentment of them because they’re well paid and well equipped while our military is struggling on nearly every front. Our troops should be treated as well as the Blackwater mercenaries, but the ridiculous strategy the administration and commanders used created a need for the privatization of war.

  53. what epi said at 9:56

  54. I’m pretty sure that’s not the law anywhere. The place of residence of the defendant generally has jurisdiction.

    Say what? Not even… the state where the crime was perpetrated is where trial is held, unless it’s a federal case, in which case there’s some leeway as to where it’s tried.

  55. Lamar,

    Are you trying to tell me that if I am licnsed in a State where the BAC limit for drunk driving is .10 and I get arrested in another State that has a .05 limit, then I get to just drive away?

    Or are you talking nation state difference, like I could be immune from drug charges in the USA if I am from a country that does not have them?

  56. Lamar is talking about civil suits. Like the one in the linked article.

  57. Which begs the question, why isn’t providing security in a war zone part of the military’s job?

    In “occupied” areas where the warfighting is over, providing security is not necessarily the military’s job, which is primarily, you know, warfighting. How security is provided is pretty much case-by-case.

    The place of residence of the defendant generally has jurisdiction.

    You can always sue a defendant where he lives, but you can also generally sue where the actions giving rise to liability occurred under so-called “long-arm” statutes.

  58. You can always sue a defendant where he lives, but you can also generally sue where the actions giving rise to liability occurred under so-called “long-arm” statutes.

    So, suing Blackwater in theit nation and State of Charter should work and the attempts by the respondant to move to a different jurisdiction should fail? Not sure where they are chartered (too lazy to look) but the safe bet for large US firms is Deleware. If so, then I wonder what the Deleware particulars are on this (or whatever State their charter is in).

  59. “Lamar is talking about civil suits. Like the one in the linked article.”

    Yep. While rules are different for contract, tort, property and other civil actions, the residence of the defendant generally has jurisdiction because (1) there is a higher likelihood (supposedly) that they will get a fair trial on their home turf, (2) sometimes they can only be served with process in their state of residence, and (3) defendant’s would have to spend less to defend the action closer to home. Maybe there are other reasons.

  60. “You can always sue a defendant where he lives, but you can also generally sue where the actions giving rise to liability occurred under so-called “long-arm” statutes.”

    Normally a defendant prefers to be sued in his state of residence. This particular case has weird parameters that I doubt will convince a court to dismiss the case.

    Guy Montag: Corporations generally have a state of incorporation and a state of residence. Not sure of the particulars, but you can usually sue in the state of residence for anything, but you can usually only sue in the state of incorporation for corporate law stuff. I think.

  61. BW attorneys remind me of the motto of Al Goracle’s team after the 2000 election:

    “When the going get’s tough, the tough . . . . gather the lawyers!”

  62. “When the going get’s tough, the tough . . . . gather the lawyers!”

    And of course there is the obvious corollary: Don’t ever do the right thing until forced to do so by a court, then lambaste your opponent for their litigiousness.

  63. In “occupied” areas where the warfighting is over, providing security is not necessarily the military’s job, which is primarily, you know, warfighting. How security is provided is pretty much case-by-case.

    Wait, what? The occupying forces aren’t expected to provide security to the occupied area once “warfighting” is over? What?

    I don’t think outsourcing the security of occupied territories is as common/normal as you are pretending.

  64. “The purpose of the Second Amendment is to arm the citizenry, not to arm quasi-private corporations that essentially work for the government.”

    The purpose of the Second Amendment is not to arm anybody. It is to prevent the federal government from interfering with those who want to arm themselves. And that includes corporations, “quasi-private” or not.

  65. Please stop and think about this issue. Why would Blackwater, a company that already has Federal Firearms Licenses covering fully automatic weapons, do anything to go around those licenses? I think it is more like a deal where “we will let you use our guns if we can use your ranges.”
    This is not news – this is Blackwater Bashing

  66. “Why would Blackwater, a company that already has Federal Firearms Licenses covering fully automatic weapons, do anything to go around those licenses?”

    Under federal law, only government agencies — military or law enforcement — are allowed to acquire and possess automatic weapons. There is an exception for automatic weapons purchased before May 1986, when the law went into effect.

  67. “To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.”

    Does this mean we have to replace “Let Freedom Ring” with “Let Shari’a Law Ring”?

  68. Under federal law, only government agencies — military or law enforcement — are allowed to acquire and possess automatic weapons. There is an exception for automatic weapons purchased before May 1986, when the law went into effect.

    Wait, are you like totally positive about that? I heard of something like this before, but not exactly like this.

    Thought you could still get full auto, suppressors and other stuff by paying the extra tax and doing extra paperwork, maybe a FFL required for some of it too.

    Saw on SaysUncle.com that the new M4s will be illegal for civilians to own, but not any details of a blanket ban.

  69. So, suing Blackwater in theit nation and State of Charter should work and the attempts by the respondant to move to a different jurisdiction should fail?

    Maybe. The fact that this is an international case makes it a lot harder for me to say – choice of law and jurisdiction is a whole universe that I don’t know much about.

    I don’t think outsourcing the security of occupied territories is as common/normal as you are pretending.

    There’s not a simple, one size fits all answer. I think you’ll find that who provides security after a war is a moving target, depending on circumstances on the ground. “Occupation” by Americans is synonymous with “Transition to Home Rule,” after all. More and more responsibility for security is assigned over time to the new government, for example.

    The occupying military force is not necessarily fully sovereign, and does not have the responsibilities of the sovereign. They may tell people “we can’t guarantee security; you may have to provide your own”, for example.

  70. “Thought you could still get full auto, suppressors and other stuff by paying the extra tax and doing extra paperwork, maybe a FFL required for some of it too.”

    I think you can get a full-auto by paying the fee and submitting to an FBI background check. I don’t think having a FFL is required.

  71. “Wait, are you like totally positive about that? I heard of something like this before, but not exactly like this.”

    I’m not sure about that. It’s my understanding that the federal license allows one to deal in arms, but not possess them for use. “Possession” is only allowed by governments. Obviously one must “possess” such weapons in order to “deal” them, but I think we’re talking about a different kind of possession here.

  72. ” It’s my understanding that the federal license allows one to deal in arms, but not possess them for use”

    A federal firearms license is not the same thing as the federal full-auto weapons permit.

  73. There’s not a simple, one size fits all answer. I think you’ll find that who provides security after a war is a moving target, depending on circumstances on the ground.

    Well the “war” isn’t over is it? Neither the war in Iraq nor the “War on Terror”.

    “Occupation” by Americans is synonymous with “Transition to Home Rule,” after all. More and more responsibility for security is assigned over time to the new government, for example.

    That’s quite different than saying that our military isn’t responsible for security in the occupied territory.

    I don’t even see the relevance your statement has to outsourcing security. Transitioning to local rule by the locals is not “outsourcing” and it has absolutely nothing to do with having hired guns as your security apparatus while you are the occupying force.

    So to reiterate my above question: What are you talking about? Are you really taking the position that the occupying army is not responsible for maintaining security of the occupied territory — this really is supposed to be the job of mercenaries?

    And no “occupation” even in the Iraq context is not synonymous with “Transitioning to home rule”. Maybe in words, but not in deeds. We are an occupying force who is running checkpoints and instituting curfews when we see fit with or without the input of locals while allowing hired guns (paid for with our tax dollars) to act with impunity — Where exactly are we “transitioning to local rule” ?

  74. Will sombody show this article to the leftists who start every anti-libertarian screed with Blackwater held up as a example of what libertarians want?

  75. “A federal firearms license is not the same thing as the federal full-auto weapons permit.”

    I’ve seen so much conflicting info on this. Why can’t anybody link to something definitive? And can a business, such as Blackwater, get a license (if it exists), or does it have to issue to an individual? And isn’t there a restriction on the manufacture of such weapons? And isn’t it restricted to dealers, and not merely people who wanna have a machine gun? And isn’t there an antique gun exception?

  76. In “occupied” areas where the warfighting is over, providing security is not necessarily the military’s job

    Yes, but we’re talking about Iraq. I doubt the people serving there are suffering from any confusion about whether they are fighting a war.

  77. If Shari’a law applies to this lawsuit because it occured in Afghanistan, doe sthat mean that Cuban law applies to those in Guantanamo?

  78. And no “occupation” even in the Iraq context is not synonymous with “Transitioning to home rule”.

    ChicagoTom, do you pay any attention at all to events in Iraq? You remember – election, Parliament, bills, handover of provinces to local authority, any of that?

    Yes, but we’re talking about Iraq. I doubt the people serving there are suffering from any confusion about whether they are fighting a war.

    There is not a war in Iraq, not even a civil war Non-civil wars require armed conflict between two sovereigns – the closest you could come would be to say that Iran is a belligerent in Iraq, but I doubt that’s a direction you want to go, joe.

    And not even the NYT is calling this a civil war (not that it ever was one, really – you never had a contest between two opposing groups for the right to govern.)

  79. Are you really taking the position that the occupying army is not responsible for maintaining security of the occupied territory

    I’m saying its a lot more complicated than some of the simpler minds here seem able to grasp, that is all.

    Do you really think that American troops were directing traffic in downtown Tokyo or West Berlin for any appreciable length of time?

    I’m not defending the use of, or behavior of, Blackwater. I’m just pointing out that life is a lot more complicated than people think, and that if private organizations, or, in the case of Blackwater, the freakin’ State Department, want to make their own security arrangements in a high-risk area, that should be no surprise.

  80. There is not a war in Iraq, not even a civil war

    Increasingly desperate retreats to semantics.

    Shall we go back to “police action?”

  81. if private organizations, or, in the case of Blackwater, the freakin’ State Department, want to make their own security arrangements in a high-risk area, that should be no surprise.

    True – but if I hire ADT to make my own “security arrangements”, and they decide to shoot 17 of my neighbors, or decide to get drunk and shoot Vice President Cheney dead, or decide to have some fun where the male ADT workers rape the female ones, etc., the police will come and arrest them. In Iraq, when you do that stuff, you get taxpayer cash shovelled at you instead.

  82. Do you really think that American troops were directing traffic in downtown Tokyo or West Berlin for any appreciable length of time?

    Oh is that what Blackwater is doing? Directing Traffic in Iraq? Really?

    I’m saying its a lot more complicated than some of the simpler minds here seem able to grasp, that is all.

    What you are saying is complete horse shit!

    The Occupying Army is absolutely responsible for the security of the land they are occupying.

    I’m just pointing out that life is a lot more complicated than people think, and that if private organizations, or, in the case of Blackwater, the freakin’ State Department, want to make their own security arrangements in a high-risk area, that should be no surprise.

    Actually it should be a surprise. It is quite surprising that State is paying our tax dollars to a MUCH MORE expensive politically connected private security agency rather than our own military forces.

    I suppose it isn’t surprising if you look at it through the context of “how can we make sure our security apparatus is neither accountable to anyone nor beholden to any code of conduct” — but our State department should not be looking at it in those terms.

    It *IS* that simple — except to dead enders.

  83. Hanging the employees responsible for the unsafe plane from a bridge probably would be a good deterrent. Or is that not part of the deal somehow?

  84. A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee,

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