Iraq’s government says it won’t give Blackwater a license to operate in the country. So does that mean the firm’s cadre of tattooed gunslingers will be gone from Iraq, forever? Not exactly.
Sure, Blackwater as a corporate entity probably won’t be roaming the streets of Baghdad or Mosul for much longer. But the individual mercenaries who’ve been working for years in Iraq, serving as a Praetorian Guard for the State Department’s diplomats — those guys likely will be able to stay.
The State Department has a contract for “worldwide personal protective services” with three firms: Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy. If Blackwater is no longer allowed to operate in Iraq, a lawyer steeped in the field tells Danger Room, there’s no legal reason why the other two firms can’t scoop up Blackwater’s employees. “State simply issues a new task order to DynCorp or Triple Canopy, who turn around and hire some or all of Blackwater’s employees,” he says.
Which could prove to be more than a little problematic. More than any other private military firm in Iraq, Blackwater had a reputation for recklessness and violence. Think about the drunken Blackwater contractor, who killed a bodyguard of Iraq’s vice president on Christmas Eve, 2007. Or the car full of people a Blackwater detail ran off the road, in September 2006. Or the Nisour Square shooting that left 17 dead, in September 2007. “If you think Blackwater culture is to blame, this [loophole] kind of confounds that,” the lawyer observes. Continue reading