History is about to repeat itself in Iraq: When US troops and Pentagon officials venture into war zones, private contractors follow suit, doing the dirty jobs once handled by the military itself.
The United States government is reportedly preparing to hike the number of private mercenary forces in Iraq - as part of the expanding war in that country and neighboring Syria. According to the Pentagon officials, there are at least 1,800 private contractors in Iraq, and it is not clear how many additional mercenaries will be sent. Nonetheless, the plan to boost their numbers underscores America’s growing involvement in both Iraq and Syria.
American mercenaries are highly controversial in Iraq, due to the atrocities they have inflicted on civilian populations. In 2007, for instance, Blackwater guards under the employ of the State Department opened fire on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square, killing 17 people and wounding 20. After years of legal battle, only four of the Blackwater guards involved in the massacre were found guilty but high-ranking Blackwater and US government officials never faced charges and remain free.
Those with vivid memory can still remember that it was former CIA Director Leon Panetta and his top lieutenants - many of them holdovers from the Bush administration - that farmed out assassinations to their Blackwater subsidiary in Iraq. More astonishing, though, is that the holdovers have continued to function as CIA’s top managers under President Barack Obama.
In other words, the Blackwater program is still ongoing and that explains why the Obama administration has decided to hike the number of its private mercenary forces - they still have “jobs” left to do in Iraq!
This is because there is apparently a loophole, known as “Operational Flexibility”, created by just one sentence in the language of the National Security Act of 1947. The sentence can be abused as authorization for all manner of crime by the US government. The former Bush team exploited that ambiguous language very well. The Act stipulates that the CIA director shall: "Perform such functions and duties (assassinations) related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the National Security Council may from time to time direct."
While more than one past president has taken advantage of that open language, the Obama administration has translated the dodging into a new art form. This, in turn, has been sustained and continued by murderous industries like Blackwater to “follow orders”and launch and operate the administration's own “Gestapo” and “Assassination Squadron” in Iraq.
Taken together, the new mission is about "Operational Flexibility", where Blackwater mercenaries will be free once again to roam the streets of Baghdad where the gloves come off with no limits. The "gloves" to which many US officials refer means legal restrictions are gone. And with “no limits” they mean there will be no limitations on the pursuit of terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
So the world is in for many more dark chapters recording how the lawlessness and savagery of Washington and its mercenaries will play out in the coming year. Mercenaries like Blackwater will continue to be dispatched to Iraq and Syria on death contracts for “excusable, justifiable and praiseworthy” assassinations and “accidental” shootings of innocent civilians under the pretext of “Operational Flexibility”, and as usual no organization in the world, including the United Nations, would ever be able to do anything about it. Watch this space, because more posts are coming.