From the FOX News Loony Bin: Barnes & Krauthammer Blame Democrats for Blackwater Scandal
Reported by Marie Therese - November 2, 2007 -
On Wednesday, October 31, 2007, Special Report dealt with the Blackwater September 16th shooting incident for the third time. Brit Hume and the All-Star Panel - Mort Kondracke, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer - essentially rehashed information from the prior two days' shows, then praised Blackwater. Suspecting that there might be something more that FOX News was reluctant to report, I headed to Google. Sure enough, the FOX viewers did not hear the whole story. The families of three Iraqis killed in the shooting in addition to a man who was seriously injured have retained an American law firm and are suing Blackwater for punitive damages. Although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made a show of impartiality, according to Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the State Department has had a very cozy, ongoing relationship with Blackwater since the beginning of the war. With multiple videos.
Brit Hume started off the October 31st segment by reading a quote written by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Hume's tone of voice dripped with a sarcasm that was completely inappropriate for the anchor of a "news" show. Panel member Mort Kondracke went on to explain that the Blackwater contractors had been granted the same kind of immunity from self-incrimination usually reserved for "police officers and public officials."
The implication of Kondracke's remarks was that the State Department considers Blackwater to be an arm of federal law enforcement, a rather startling proposition. Kondracke noted that even though the immunity granted was limited, some of the Blackwater guards are using it to avoid speaking with FBI investigators looking into charges that the contractors fired into the crowd of bystanders without due provocation.
Charles Krauthammer then claimed that attacking Blackwater is just a new way for Democrats to make nasty statements about the military! "Look, this is a proxy way of attacking the U. S. military," Krauthammed said. "Democrats learned thirty years ago that, if you attack American soldiers in war the way that John Kerry did thirty years ago, you suffer politically for thirty years and more. And nobody does that in this war. But these contractors, who are called mercenaries, are fair game and it's a way to actually do that. I would call them honorable Americans earning a living in a way that's helping the war effort and at high risk to themselves." Hume responded that "they are protecting the hind quarters of members of Congress, who visit over there all the time, not one whom has had a hair on his or her head harmed. ... [Blackwater has], however, lost some thirty of their own."
According to Rep. Waxman's Committee "[p]reviously undisclosed information reveals (1) Blackwater has engaged in 195 'escalation of force' incidents since 2005, an average of 1.4 per week, including over 160 incidents in which Blackwater forces fired first; (2) after a drunken Blackwater contractor shot the guard of the Iraqi Vice President, the State Department allowed the contractor to leave Iraq and advised Blackwater on the size of the payment needed 'to help them resolve this'; and (3) Blackwater, which has received over $1 billion in federal contracts since 2001, is charging the federal government over $1,200 per day for each 'protective security specialist' employed by the company."
Leave it to Fred Barnes to end with a totally outrageous statement. After praising Blackwater for guarding him when he was in Iraq, he said "But why is this an issue? 'Cause the war is going well and Democrats don't want to talk about that, so they've made up a Blackwater scandal."
There are times I think poor Fred really need professional help ...
Despite the "Blackwater is good" blather you see and hear on FOX News, the company, under the leadership of proto-Bircher CEO Erik Price, has deliberately cultivated a no-holds-barred, swaggering cowboy image. Thanks to L. Paul Bremer's Order 17, private security contractors operating in Iraq cannot be prosecuted in Iraqi courts for crimes committed.
However, that has all changed now that there are lawsuits being brought against Blackwater. The families of the four contractors brutally murdered in Fallujah are currently going through the court system. Based on the way the mother and brother of one of the victims were treated recently by FOX News coupled with the All-Star Panel's compliments on Wednesday, it is becoming clearer and clearer that FOX News believes that Blackwater and others like them should have carte blanche to do whatever they want in a war or disaster zone.
Although the Democratic Congress has been holding hearings and demanding evidence, Blackwater has been stonewalling attempts to delve deeper into its operations and finances.
Based on the attention the story has gotten on Special Report, my instinct is that there are more surprising and nasty revelations on the horizon.
SPECIAL REPORT, OCTOBER 31, 2007, All-STAR PANEL DISCUSSION
AMY GOODMAN, JEREMY SCAHILL AND SUSAN BURKE, DEMOCRACY NOW, OCTOBER 11, 2007
Note to our readers: Democracy Now's Amy Goodman has been stricken with Bell's Palsy, a neurological disorder. She did not have a stroke. Bell's shows generally goes away with treatment over time. George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan and Ralph Nader, among others, have all experienced Bell's Palsy. However, it is a shock the first time you see Amy. We want to take this opportunity to wish her all the best as she recovers. - MT
BLACKWATER "TURKEY SHOOT" (for those few of you who haven't seen it yet). Six minutes of Blackwater contractors on a roof illegally targeting moving vehicles, including a bus, laughing and joking. This was a vanity video produced by the contractors themselves and posted on the internet. You can see brief excerpts in the Democracy Now interview above. Interesting example of how "honorable Americans" act when they know they will not be held accountable.