Senator John Kerry has joined Senator Jim Webb in rebuffing calls for the US to ban Blackwater. Like Webb, Kerry is a sharp critic of Blackwater - but says that the company should be allowed to compete for contracts.
Kerry's comment further isolates House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, who is the only senior member of Congress to say he wants to force Blackwater out of the government contracting business.
The Massachusetts senator indicates he has no problem with Blackwater's security services in Iraq, as long as the company operates under the same rules as everyone else.
Anti-Blackwater gadfly Jeremy Scahill posed questions to congressmen and senators at the Democratic National Convention to elicit comments against the firm. Here's the transcript as copied from the DemocracyNow! website:
JEREMY SCAHILL: Senator Kerry, should Blackwater be banned? Senator Kerry, you’ve been aggressive on Blackwater recently. Do you think they should be banned?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I’m not having a press conference right now. I’ve got to get to an airport, because I have to go to a funeral.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Just answer the one question. I know you know about this.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I need to—I need—I’m not doing this right know. That’s all.
JEREMY SCAHILL: It’s a simple yes or no. Do you think they should be banned—Blackwater, the mercenary company—from operating in Iraq?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: No, I don’t think they should be banned. I think they need to operate under rules that apply to the military and everybody else.
JEREMY SCAHILL: But it’s OK if Senator Obama continues to use them, if he wins the presidency?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: You guys, I’m not—this is not the moment.