Let's give the Iraqi puppet government some credit: At least they had the sense to delicense and order the Blackwater mercenary outfit out of the country.
The real question is why we allow them here in the U.S.
Recall that FEMA and Homeland Security used heavily armed Blackwater troops in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. They were seen wandering around in flak jackets and helmets, with no identifying tags, carrying heavy weapons and M-16s. It is not clear how many people they may have killed or injured in those terrible days.
Worse yet, there's word that Homeland Security has standing contracts with Blackwater and other private mercenary firms for other "national emergency" situations in the U.S.
This whole concept is an affront to democracy and a grave threat to the survival of our democratic freedoms.
While the rules are often honored in the breach by officers who tape over their badges during operations, the law requires police in the U.S. to identify themselves with badges that show their number clearly, so that if they abuse their power, people know how to file a complaint or a lawsuit, which is the only recourse they have for illegal behavior by police forces.
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Police are also supposed to be trained in things such as Miranda rights, civil liberties, and so on. Again, while many officers go on and act like laws unto themselves, particularly in poor and minority communities, there is a presumption that they will behave in a law-abiding manner, and when they don't, it is possible to challenge them.
Not so with private mercenary "police." Such forces have no place in any democratic society, and they have no place in ours. Nor do they have any place in American military actions overseas.
Bear in mind that the British use of Hessian mercenaries during colonial times was one of the main grievances that fired up American revolutionaries (although in fairness to the German soldiers-of-fortune, many of them eventually went AWOL and become Americans).
Why isn't it being decried as a scandal that today, America is increasingly turning over its military and its police to mercenary forces, many of whom aren't even Americans? Blackwater, Dynecorp, and other such firms are hiring Israeli veterans, former South African police, and Latin American graduates of the notorious School of the Americas (Torture U) to fill out their ranks, along with veterans of such U.S. outfits as Delta Force, Navy Seals, and the Green Berets.
The Iraqis have seen close up the inhumanity and ruthlessness of these mercenary outfits, and are starting to take steps to rein them in or toss them out. Americans should demand the same here at home.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now out in paperback. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
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