Obligatory Blackwater update

A few things have been going on with Blackwater lately, with one coming up pretty soon.  Just one week after the case against the shooters in the Nisour Square massacre was dismissed, two contractors working yet another Blackwater subsidiary were charged with the murder of two Afghans in 2008.  I hadn’t paid much attention to it because this is a regular occurrence in Afghanistan (for details, see this article by Anand Gopal).  The men were also charged with weapons violations for using AK-47s (a Blackwater speciality) most likely in an attempt to blame it on Afghans, which they tried to do anyways:

Federal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is pending, said that no Paravant car was struck by another vehicle and that the Afghans who were shot were in a car that had passed the contractors from the other direction.

But Callahan said the lead Paravant car was deliberately struck by another car traveling in the same direction. The first car flipped over. Callahan said Cannon and Drotleff, who were traveling in the second car, got out and were running to check on their injured colleagues when the car that had caused the accident accelerated toward them. The men opened fire, Callahan said, killing one Afghan in the car and a bystander about 900 feet away.

More recently, details have emerged about their service records:

Drotleff’s three-year service in the Marines ended with an other-than-honorable discharge in 2001 and a military record that included offenses for seven unauthorized absences, two failures to obey an order, assault, disrespect toward a noncommissioned officer and falsely altering a military ID card. Before his service with Blackwater in Afghanistan, the 29-year-old also faced a number of state convictions for reckless driving, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, resisting arrest and DWI.

Cannon, 27, was discharged from the Army after going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine. He later petitioned successfully to have his military records officially changed to an honorable discharge.

The only strange part about this is that they (theoretically) would have had to have security clearances for those jobs and that’s exactly the kind of thing you’d think would show up in the process of obtaining one.  I don’t suppose we’ll find out what happened with that though, as they have a seemingly limitless number of high ranking officials willing to cover for them, all the way up to issuing denials about what Secretary of Defense himself blurts out.

The problem we have here is what Mark Danner described in an essay about similar issues:

Scandal is our growth industry. Revelation of wrongdoing leads not to definitive investigation, punishment, and expiation but to more scandal. Permanent scandal. Frozen scandal. The weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. The torture of detainees who remain forever detained. The firing of prosecutors which is forever investigated. These and other frozen scandals metastasize, ramify, self-replicate, clogging the cable news shows and the blogosphere and the bookstores. The titillating story that never ends, the pundit gabfest that never ceases, the gift that never stops giving: what is indestructible, irresolvable, unexpiatable is too valuable not to be made into a source of profit. Scandal, unpurged and unresolved, transcends political reality to become commercial fact.

Which brings me to the last little piece of news about this particular frozen scandal.  Jeremy Scahill recently wrote an article titled “Blackwater’s Youngest Victim” about a nine-year boy named Ali Kinani who died in the Nisour Square massacre and his father’s struggle to have them held accountable.  A documentary about it is set to be aired on Democracy Now! this Friday.  I’d highly recommend reading the article and/or watching the documentary if you’re not very familiar with the incident.

Update: The documentary is apparently already finished, you can watch it here.

Blackwater Xe

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