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19 Mar, 2009 09:53

Does US want Blackwater to work in Iraq illegally?

Obama’s administration goes back on their word. After announcing that a contract with mercenary firm Blackwater would not be renewed in Iraq, a 70 million dollar payment was made to the controversial company.

As of January 2009, private military contractors Blackwater were denied a license by the Iraqi government to operate within the country. Following these pressures, the US State Department announced that the contract would not be renewed passed its expiration date of May 1, 2009.

Now The Washington Times has reported that the Obama administration signed on in February to keep the company there for months longer than promised. According to the paper, a Federal procurement database shows a 22 million dollar payment on February 2, with a job completion date of September 3, 2009.

Another investigative report by Jeremy Scahill found a second payment made just two days later on February 4th. This time, it was a lofty 45 million dollars. The most surprising element Scahill earthed up was an estimated “ultimate completion date” of July 5, 2011.

It took more than a month for any of this information to surface. The secrecy is sparking negative reactions, and is being looked upon as an extention of the Bush Administrations policies. At a time when the US economy is spiraling out of control, the Obama administration will be hard pressed to justify this spending.

Despite announcing plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, Obama may have plans for continued occupation through these privately hired US mercenaries. The contract will also result in Blackwater operating illegaly on Iraqi soil, where their presence is already unwelcome.

Blackwater, who recently changed their name to Xe, has been riddled with controversy while operating in Iraq. One of the most noted incidents was a shootout in Nisour Square, Baghdad in 2007. Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqis, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations later stated that at least 14 were shot without cause.

Blackwater staff have become notorious for being trigger happy since gaining their first contract in Iraq in 2003. Out of 195 shooting incidents, they were recorded as the first to shoot in 163 of those cases.

While Obama and his team find a need for these private security personnel to protect the US embassy in Baghdad, and other officials, it is not clear why they choose to continue with the controversial firm. There are two other large contractors, Triple Canopy and DynCorp that can offer the same services.

Scahill and others feel that it is simply a continuation of bad policy. Blackwater has already received over 320 million dollars from the US government. Even if the other two leading companies were to be used, chances are they would be hiring the fired Blackwater employees. The violence and resulting anger in Iraq, would only continue.

Alyona Minkovski, RT