I am sitting at my desk, having heard a news story mentioning this on NPR and then looking up the video and reading more about it on the Daily Telegraph and Washington Post. I've forwarded it to all of my cube mates, who are likewise stunned. I am so angry I'm having trouble typing.

This video was posted on a private website operated by employees of Aegis security and shows them shooting at Iraqi civilian cars approaching a convoy of SUV's from behind on the Airport Hiway in Bagdad.

The thing that sickens me most? This came out in 2005 and yet it seems to have barely made a splash in the US media. I never heard about it, despite all the talk early in the war about the lawless nature of civilian contractors since they are not covered under laws of war, US or British law or Iraqi law. Haven't we learned enough from history to know that mercenaries are not a good idea. Our media, as well as our government, have completely let us down in this war. How can you decide to support a war or not if you have a media bent on two highly myopic views of the war, basically Liberal tunnel vision or Conservative tunnel vision.

There is no looking to history to learn about the disastrous consequences of hiring mercenary armies, or even to background check Aegis who's CEO has been implicated in the Sandline Affair as well as arrested in Papua New Guinea after the PNG military mutinied when Sandline was hired to crush an insurgency by the president. This should not be confused with the African Guinea (Equatorial Guinea) where Spicer was questioned about a recent foiled coup attempt involving mercenary soldiers. It sounds like he wasn't directly involved, it was just a longtime mercenary pal who hatched and nearly carried out the plot. This guy is a scoundrel of the highest order, in bed with other scoundrels and rats the same or worse, and yet he is due $475 million of my tax money to shoot Iraqi's in their cars. Why in the world should I trust that these Iraqi's and others are being shot at under a rigorous policy of engagement and use of lethal force when the leaders of the company are this immoral and they not held to account?

Unfortunately this Aegis story seems to have fallen through the cracks just as Haditha has. (For God's sake, the link is the top hit on Google when you type in "Haditha". It's a story on SignonSanDiego.com. Where are the major news outlets of the world following up on this story? The second link is Wikipedia and the first major hard news outlet, the Washington Post, doesn't come up until the second page. I don't think Time really counts as hard, timely news as it's mostly commentary.)

Sure, Aegis was cleared by the US military a year later but there are alot of unanswered questions here. Aegis has the largest mercenary contract in Iraq and yet it's actions are really not accountable to anyone. (I will use mercenary because that is what they are. You don't hire former Navy Seals and fully equip them with weapons to guard a candy store, they are warriors. If you want to be PC substitute Private Security Firm for mercenary.) They say the video is edited in a way that does not show the escalation of conflict or strategic risk posed by the cars. Maybe so, but who is responsible for keeping them honest. No one!!! They are not even covered by the Geneva conventions unless is is decided that they are mercenaries and civil law doesn't seem to apply. That is the most sickening, that we would let that happen with no accountability.

"These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's
no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate
force," said Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry
Division, which is responsible for security in and around Baghdad. "They shoot
people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the
place." Washington Post, September 10, 2005

Yes, in the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill there is a provision stating that military contractors are now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Unfortunately this is fraught with problems on constitutional grounds and probably doesn't apply to Aegis anyway since they are British. I will be interested to see if any Blackwater, Inc employees are prosecuted by court martial over their latest "problems" in Iraq. I haven't heard anyone talking about it in the US media, and given that the Aegis video didn't stir much controversy I doubt anything will happen to the Blackwater people.

Lets face it, the State Department especially, as well as the military, depends on Blackwater so much that to try them might be counterproductive to their aims. This is sick, but I think probably justified in their eyes given that they have nothing to lose. The war is already so unpopular that they don't really risk popular opinion by hiring another firm, however by trying these Blackwater killers they would scare off the best and brightest mercenary companies and thus risk the security of their black SUV convoys in Iraq. Obviously Lt. Col. Spicer would love the contract as would numerous other security firms. Unfortunately, we need the State Department to have a viable and active presence in Iraq now worse than ever (whether Condi is the person to lead it is another question).

The whole thing sickens me and I cannot believe we are involved in this inhumane, unethical and gruesome war at all. The fact that we hire slathering pit bulls, without putting them on a solid legal leash, to be our guard dogs makes it all the more atrocious.