But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:23
[Jeremy Scahill:] But let's be clear here, we're talking about what is alleged to be the single greatest massacre of Iraqi civilians by a private force in Iraq. The individuals alleged to have been responsible for that have faced no consequences right now. When the Iraqi government said, "We want to prosecute them as criminals for what they've done in our country," the Bush administration had to remind Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that he in fact is not the prime minister of Iraq, that George Bush is the prime minister of Iraq and that the United States has imposed on Iraq a law, going back to the Bremer era, Order 17, that says that no private contractors in Iraq can be prosecuted by any Iraqi legal system. And Bremer issued this order at the time he was allegedly handing over sovereignty to the Iraqi government. No armed private security contractors have ever been prosecuted for any crimes in Iraq, not to mention killing of Iraqi civilians. So while this grand jury is meeting, I think that the odds of actual justice being achieved here for the victims of the Nisour Square massacre is highly unlikely. Maybe one or two people will go down as a symbolic gesture. Blackwater, as a company, is not facing any consequences for this.
But what has gotten almost no attention is that a US military unit did respond right after the shooting, arrived on the scene. And Lieutenant Colonel Mike Tarsa and his men did an investigation, and what they found is that there was no evidence of enemy fire. They examined the shell casings on the scene and found no evidence that there were any shots fired at the Blackwater convoy. And they labeled it a criminal event and said that all of the Iraqis killed that day were killed as a result of unjustified and unprovoked gunfire. Now, this has gotten almost no attention whatsoever.
But when Bush actually got around to sending the FBI two weeks after the shooting, first of all, we learned that the FBI was going to be guarded by Blackwater when they went over there, and then Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont raised a ruckus about it, and the government said, "OK, fine, we'll provide our own protection." But when the FBI got there, they found that fourteen of the seventeen Iraqis killed were killed as a result of unjustified and unprovoked gunfire. And a military official told the Times that the FBI was being too generous to Blackwater in saying that three of them were not killed as a result of unjustified and unprovoked gunfire. And so, this US military investigation, the fact that federal agents speaking to the New York Times about the FBI investigation said fourteen of the seventeen were killed, this story has basically still gone nowhere.
There are legal experts, international law experts, constitutional law experts in this country, that say that the appropriate way for the United States government to respond is to prosecute these individuals under the War Crimes Act. Now, that would require us having probably hundreds of different individuals in the United States Congress and a totally different president, one with a will to actually enforce US law, when it even is the case that his cronies are being alleged to have committed crimes.
The US has sixteen intelligence agencies now under one umbrella. 70 percent of their combined budget is now in the hands of the private sector. You have private contractors working basically at every level of the US intelligence apparatus.
And so, what we see now, through Total Intelligence Solutions, is that Erik Prince is taking the decades and decades of CIA experience, the careers of people like Cofer Black, Robert Richer, Enrique "Ric" Prado, and putting all of their contacts, their knowledge, their networks, their intimate relationships with governments and heads of state around the world, on the open market for bidding. You know, services that were once the realm of sovereign governments are now on the open market for bidding. And Blackwater has some of the heaviest hitters in the history of US intelligence, whose services are now available for private hire.
What's interesting—and you [Amy Goodman] raised this with him [Barack Obama]—is that he won't take the step toward actually trying to ban these companies. Representative Jan Schakowsky and Senator Bernie Sanders have put forward legislation called the Stop Outsourcing Security Act in the Congress, and Barack Obama has said he's not going to come onboard and support that legislation.
Interestingly, when I reported in The Nation that Obama would not support that legislation, which seeks to ban the use of these companies in US war zones, Hillary Clinton, five days before the Texas and Ohio primaries, the day my piece comes out, she responds by putting a statement on her website saying that she's going to endorse Bernie Sanders' legislation, and she becomes the single most important US political figure to come out for a ban. Now, I'm glad that Hillary Clinton did that, and I look forward to her making this one of her top legislative priorities after the primary season is over.