By Dan Kenney
The nationwide citizens’ group noprivatearmies.org and the Illinois Clearwater group mark the two-year anniversary of the Nisour Square shooting with a call on Congress to end the use of private military companies.
Two years ago, on a sunny September in Baghdad, 17 unarmed innocent civilians were gunned down by contractors of the Blackwater Worldwide private military company (now known as Xe). More than 40 civilians were injured in the massacre.
The Blackwater security contractors were part of a U.S. State Department convoy making its way through the busy Nisour Square. When the convoy was stopped by traffic, the contractors became edgy. When a car, driven by a medical student, did not stop when ordered to stop, they opened fire. This led to five of the contractors firing indiscriminately in a 360-degree radius. Many of the victims were shot in the back trying to flee the scene. One 9-year-old boy was killed in the back seat of his father’s car.
The U.S. Army, the Iraqi police, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice all investigated the incident, and found no justification for the shooting. Today, two years later, the five contractors who were responsible for the murders are still free.
Other private military companies such as Armor Group North America, CACI, Triple Canopy and DynCorp, to name only a few of the more than 600 that are under contract to the U.S. government, have also been found to be involved in fraud, sex trafficking, arms smuggling, civilian murders, torture and other criminal activity. Still, taxpayer money is being used to pay for these multi-million-dollar contracts.
The noprivatearmies.org citizens group calls upon Congress to begin the work necessary to end our dependency upon these mercenary companies. The group urges Congress to give back to the military the responsibility of providing security and carrying out combat operations instead of outsourcing our security to these companies that operate in war zones for their personal profit.
How much longer must the families and loved ones of those gunned down in Nisour Square wait for justice?
Dan Kenney is co-coordinator of noprivatearmies.org and Clearwater to Stop Blackwater.
From the October 21-27, 2009 issue