News Release

Blackwater: Expelled from Iraq?

CNN is reporting that “[Iraqi] Government ministers Tuesday backed the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s decision to shut down Blackwater USA’s operations in Iraq after the American security firm was involved in a Baghdad firefight that authorities say killed eight civilians.

“The ministers also stressed the need to ensure foreign security firms operate within Iraqi laws, according to a statement from spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.”

JEREMY SCAHILL
Available for a limited number of interviews, Scahill is author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

He said today: “Blackwater is only one of the mercenary firms operating with total impunity in Iraq, effectively doubling the size of the U.S. occupation, but it is by far the most influential. Washington has essentially created a shadow army to circumvent popular opinion and public oversight.

“[Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki made the mistake of believing that there is a sovereign Iraqi government for about fifteen minutes over the past twenty-four hours [by expelling Blackwater], and it appears now that there’s a real diplomatic shuffle going on. [Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice called Maliki, ostensibly to apologize, but it does seem that the U.S. government is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the Iraqi government not to expel Blackwater.”
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ANTHONY ARNOVE
Author of the book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, Arnove said today: “There are 165,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, but there are also 180,000 contractors — 20,000 to 50,000 of whom are armed mercenaries. The impunity with which Blackwater has operated in Iraq raises much deeper issues about the nature of the U.S. occupation. The number of Iraqis killed, injured, and displaced continues to rise. …

“Troop levels in Iraq now are at the highest point they have been since the invasion, and President Bush has said the occupation will continue well into the next administration. Possible troop reductions would still leave a huge occupying force, including mercenaries, in Iraq for years to come.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.