Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blackwater and the Reality of War

As I am sure everyone has heard by now, Blackwater is in the midst of a scandal because of the shooting of "unarmed civilians" in Nisoor Square. Pundits fell all over themselves to leap to conclusions, and as is normally the case, the first casualty is the truth, and the second is critical thinking.

I am sorry that people died. I am sorry for them and their families. But I won't let emotions cloud my judgment.

It's funny how quickly simple-stupid police work that even the press can do gets forgotten in the name of a political agenda.

So, let's review the facts, based on pictures in the news and what the reports have in common:
  • People died from bullet wounds at Nisoor Square
  • Blackwater vehicles have bullet holes in them
Now, the Iraqis state that all killed were civilians, and perhaps a cop or two. What is the problem with this?
  • An insurgent becomes a civilian when his AK is taken away
  • Nobody has pictures of where the bodies fell - are there shell casings there? What caliber were they?
  • What caliber bullets killed the civilians?
  • Were any of the bodies tested for powder residue?
I doubt points two and three, above. Once again, the press should be ashamed of themselves.

To make this clear: Insurgents tend to use AK rifles, using either 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm ammunition. Incidentally the majority of this stuff is in a steel laquered case of a greenish color.

Blackwater is one of the few PMCs in Iraq that equips their people with AR or M-16 type rifles. These fire 5.56x45mm cartridges, almost all of which leave brass casings. Shiny, easy to tell.

The wound ballistics between the three calibers are well documented, and could certainly be determined by a skilled coroner, with the rudimentary investigation being quite cheap.

To back Blackwater's statement that IED was involved, there are some questions that bear asking as well:
  • Why shoot when there is an explosion? It goes boom. If you're still there, drive away, or wait for the army or your response team to secure the scene. Your choice.
  • There has been, to date, no clear sequence of events. Now, this may be the fault of the press, but I'll call all of it conjecture until the BBC, Fox, and CNN agree.
Nobody is asking the obvious questions here, and this is sad indeed.

Should wrong have been done, then fine, charge the people involved. Immunity by administrator's order is a bit much, I agree.

EDIT: I read today's story on the Washington Post, about the victims that to them, clearly were innocent. Yes, it's very sad and heart-wrenching. What about the others?

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