I just came across this article on Mark Grimsley's blog, Blog Them Out of the Stone Age:
Blackwater and me: A love story it ain't By Robert Bateman October 12, 2007 I know something about Blackwater USA. This opinion is both intellectually driven as well as moderately emotional. You see, during my own yearlong tour in Iraq, the bad boys of Blackwater twice came closer to killing me than did any of the insurgents or Al Qaeda types. That sort of thing sticks with you. One story will suffice to make my point. The first time it happened was in the spring of 2005. For various reasons, none of which bear repeating, I was moving through downtown Baghdad in an unmarked civilian sedan. I was with two other men, but they had the native look, while I was in my uniform, hunched in the back seat and partially covered by a blanket, hoping that the curtains on the window were enough to conceal my incongruous presence, not to mention my weapons. It was not the normal manner in which an Army infantry major moved around the city, but it was what the situation called for, so there I was. We were in normal Baghdad traffic, with the flow such as it was, in the hubbub of confusion that is generated when you suddenly introduce more than 1 million extra vehicles in the course of two years into a city that previously had only a few hundred thousand vehicles, and no real licensing authority. As we approached one semi-infamous intersection along the main route used by Blackwater between the International Zone (a.k.a. the Green Zone) and the Ministry of Interior, one of Blackwater's convoys roared through. Apparently, Blackwater's agents did not like the look of us, the main body of cars in front of them. Their response was, to say the least, contrary to the best interests of the United States effort in Iraq. Barreling through in their huge, black armored Suburbans and Expeditions, they drove other cars onto the sidewalk even as they popped off rounds from at least one weapon, though I cannot say if the shots were aimed at us or fired into the sky as a warning. I do know one thing: It enraged me ... and Blackwater is, at least nominally, on our side. Full Article
I've been watching the news on Blackwater USA in recent days after they've been involved with shootings of Iraqi civilians. Over the past couple of years in Iraqi, there's been a little news about the private security firms over there, and it's always been alarming to me, that essentially civilians are going into war with little oversight and with what seemed like a group of reckless people looking for some sort o of war story. This article just helps my opinion of the company along... The news that they most likely killed civilians is disgusting, and sadly, doesn't surprise me all that much. From Norwich, I've certainly met a number of people who were likely bound for Iraq, and in some cases, these are people who are extremely pro-US, violent and wanting nothing short of revenge for the events of 9-11. It's not a good combination, and I suspect that some people who would join this type of organization. Blackwater is nothing short of a mercenary organization, and throughout history, these groups have been despised and hated for what they do. Erik Prince has said that his people are putting their lives on the line for their country - that's complete bullshit, in my opinion. The people in Blackwater are there for the money - they're paid a lot and have a lot of support behind them financially. If they wanted to be there for their country, they'd join the US armed forces, not a sketchy private army with no oversight or concern for anything but their profits.