Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sellout in Iraq

It looks like the State Department has sold out its private security details by caving into Iraqi demands that US contractors lose their protection from the country's corrupt legal system.
The US military and police veterans who make up the Blackwater security presence for American diplomats in Iraq face deadly dangers every day. The accompanying ABC News photo shows a terrorist bomb going off near where Blackwater was guarding a State Department official in Iraq. And now look at what the State Department negotiated with the Iraqi government:

"'Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States contractors and United States contractor employees,' Article 12, paragraph 1 of the agreement states. In Article 12, paragraph 8, the agreement adds, 'Where Iraq exercises jurisdiction pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Article, members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component shall be entitled to due process standards and protections consistent with those available under United States and Iraqi law.'

"The agreement," says the Washington Times in an editorial, "provides no guidance on a number of critical questions: What happens when the United States and Iraq disagree over a due process standard? Could Iraq prosecute Americans for past 'crimes'? This last question is particularly important because the Iraqi government's insistence on ending legal immunity for American contractors results in large part from the September 2007 Blackwater incident, during which security guards who came under fire in downtown Baghdad killed 17 Iraqis in a firefight. The Iraqi government's hurried decision to blame Blackwater despite the weight of evidence that its guards were ambushed does not bode well for American contractors in Iraq who try to protect themselves against future attacks.
"Washington's failure to insist on retaining jurisdiction over U.S. contractors could prove very harmful over the next few years."

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