Sunday, October 14, 2007
Editorial: Press love for Blackwater
September 16th in Baghdad, Blackwater mercenaries apparently did what they always do: treat Iraq as their own personal playground and Iraqis as objects who don't have a right to be there. That is, despite how many in the press choose to paint it, the reality. Blackwater mercenaries ride around as if they are armed ambulances, expecting all traffic to stop because they are so damn important. Those who don't immediately pull over to the side of the road get water bottles, flares and worse thrown at them. Those are the lucky ones. Others get the 'joys' of a hail of bullets.
In an adult world inhabited by thinking journalists, we might expect the behavior Blackwater exhibits would be questioned. In what other city in the world could foreigners decide that they are so damn important everything must stop for them? In what other country would that 'road rage' even be tolerated?
Not only has it been tolerated, it has been excused.
Two Fridays ago on PBS' Washington Week, USA Today's Joan Biskupic, referring to the September 16h slaughter of at least 17 Iraqis, mused of the behaviors that have led to Congressional inquiries, "I mean, is part of the problem that even though they've had this rogue reputation, they've been successful?"
Yes, Joan, that's exactly the problem. Go back to your deep coma.
For Iraqis trying to have a semblance of daily life, Blackwater is a clear and present danger. But the mainstream press (which benefits from their own bodyguards) don't seem to grasp that demanding all traffic stop because you are on the road is not normal behavior.
Though there's been no time for the press to question the way Blackwater operates, there has been plenty of time for men to gush over Blackwater CEO Erik Prince. Something about Prince brings out the Women's Wear Daily in alleged hard news reporter. John M. Broder (of The New York Times) appeared to be offering Prince in some sort of Stud For A Night auction: "Mr. Prince, 38, a former Navy Seal, appeared before the committee and its openly skeptical chairman in a trim dark blue suit with his blond hair in a fresh cut." Not to be outdone, James Risen (also of The New York Times) oohed and aawed last week over, "Erik D. Prince, the crew-cut, square-jawed founder of Blackwater USA". No, as C.I. noted, Prince does not have a square jaw nor a crew-cut. He has a pointy chin which is common to those with the inverted triangle facial shape. But why stick to the facts when you have a mash note to pen?
On Thursday, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) broke the news that the Center for Constitutional Rights was filing a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. CCR explains, "The suit was filed on behalf of an injured survivor and three families of men killed in the incident, according to the legal team representing the civilians. The case was brought be the Center for Constitutional Rights and the firms of Burke O'Neil LLC and Akeel & Valentine, P.C. Filed in Washington, D.C. federal court by Talib Mutlaq Deewan and the estates of the deceased men -- Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbass, and Oday Ismail Ibraheem -- the lawsuit claims that Blackwater and its affiliated companies violated U.S. law and 'created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life'."
That pretty much sums it up.
And it's a real shame that the summation comes from attorneys instead of the mainstream press which continues to provide excuses and minimize the behavior of Blackwater and other mercenaries operating in Iraq.
But as CCR noted in their 2004 advertisement, "We didn't whine about the Patriot Act stripping our Constitutional rights, we got a key provision ruled unconstitutional and thrown out."