Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The State Department's Hired Guns

The Nation, October 3, 2007

By Robert Scheer

How did it come to be that the ostensibly best-educated and most refined representatives of the United States in Iraq are guarded by gun-toting mercenaries who kill innocent civilians? More urgently, why did State Department employees and their bosses in Washington tolerate--and pay to conceal--the wanton murder conducted on their watch?

That's the real scandal of the more than $832 million the US State Department paid Blackwater, investigated this week by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, headed by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). The issue is not simply that of the Blackwater forces' horrid behavior but, more important, why the mayhem they unleashed upon innocent Iraqis was approved and covered up by the Bush Administration. For example, why did a top State Department official initially suggest a payment of $250,000 of American taxpayers' money to conceal the uncontested fact that, as the House committee report states, "a drunken Blackwater contractor killed the guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi"?

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