Blackwater and co Iraq data-dump: mercenaries shot a judge with impunity, used bullets as hand signals, were not disciplined as this "would lower morale"

Four years after their initial Freedom of Information Act request, Gawker has received and published 4,500 pages' worth of detail on the way that mercenaries from Blackwater and other defense contractors conducted themselves in Iraq. Their basic procedure appears to have been to shoot any car that attempted to pass or tailgate any of the convoys they guarded, especially if the driver was a "military aged male." Then, with no followup (or very little), they would conclude that the driver was unharmed and drive on, filing a report later. One victim of a Blackwater mercenary shooting was a judge, who was wounded in the leg (though the mercs' report claimed he was unharmed). The State Department backed the mecenaries on this; in Gawker's words, 'The State Department determined that shooting at judges for driving too fast in their own country is "within the established Department of State policy for escalation of force."' Other drivers were shot because they carried passengers with "devices" in their hands -- such as mobile phones.

When Blackwater teams were caught lying about their roadside battles and executions, they faced little or no discipline. The State Department officials supervising the mercenaries' behavior were told that discipline "would lower morale" among the mercenaries, and seemed to accept this at face value.

A July 2007 email from one State Department official to several colleagues—apparently in reference to the judge's shooting—openly worried about contractor teams indiscriminately shooting their way around Iraq:

When was the last time we...looked into all the other contractor PSD elements running around Iraq? I'm hearing stories of quite a few PSD elements moving from Mosul to Irbil firing up to 50 rounds per move and using bullets like we use hand and arm signals, flashers, or a water bottle. [Security teams would often toss plastic water bottles at the windshield of a suspicious car to get the driver's attention—Ed.]

It doesn't appear that anyone wrote him back or addressed his concerns.

Blackwater subsequently rebranded itself as "Xe," and has just changed its name to Academi, and is still seeking lucrative government contracts. I reviewed Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army in 2007, and it remains an important read for anyone who wants to understand the way that US-funded mercenaries run amok in America's fields of war (and in America's disaster zones, such as post-Katrina New Orleans), murdering and rampaging with impunity.

‘Gentlemen, We Shot a Judge’ and Other Tales of Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy’s Rampage Through Iraq


        1. Hey, sometimes sacrificing a little freedom is the cost of protecting our liberty. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I forget.

      1. Hey, you know how much ammunition costs?  Plus those mercs have to clean their weapons after a day of shooting judges.  Iraq should be THANKFUL.

        1. Hey, you know how much ammunition costs?

          Luckily the mercenaries were operating under a “cost-plus” contract, so every bullet they fired was like money in the bank.

  1. We will not be truly free until we too can shoot tailgaters and drivers using hand-held communication devices.

  2. Maybe if they weren’t driving so fast they wouldn’t have been shot!!! Really guys simple as that!!!!!!

    1. Great point!!!!!!  From now on I shall thank my lucky stars every time people get pulled over for speeding that they are able to drive off with only a ticket instead of the God-given right the police have to shoot them in the leg.

    2. Of course he got shot: he swerved into the oncoming lane!  If he was just an innocent civilian he would have driven straight through that crater full of burning wreckage.

  3. Wait till these Blackwater dudes get held in detention for an indefinite amount of time ! That’ll smarten them up …

  4. You’re behind the times … Blackwater, er, Xe is now called Academi.

    A friend who worked in Iraq, and who had nothing but praise for some of the private security details that protected her while she was there, said that the Blackwater PSDs were widely despised by most of the other companies doing similar work. The Blackwater mercs were seen, even by their peers, as irresponsible, dangerous and thuggish.

    1. By the sound of it, rightfully so. If Blackwater isn’t careful every sane/careful PSD will get thrown in with them in the “Mercenary” category.

  5. Although I’m sure that Blackwater deserves plenty of disapprobation, I think it wasn’t them in this particular incident. The paragraph with the subtitle “Well Gentlemen, We Shot a Judge” begins:

    On July 16, 2007, a DynCorp (not Blackwater, but still) convoy traveling near Erbil fired five shots at a red Isuzu because it was driving “at a fast pace”… [T]he driver…was an Iraqi civil affairs judge.

    edit: I see this has been partially fixed in the original post. Blackwater should probably be changed to mercenary the next two times in that paragraph, too.

  6. “Their basic procedure appears to have been to shoot any car that attempted to pass or tailgate any of the convoys they guarded.”

    ….wonder if any of them were drifting.

    Cause I might unload a clip on a Accord barreling at me doing 100+ all over the road.

  7. I dont know which is more pathetic. The publicly tolerated actions of American mercenary armies, or the total apathy from every comment on this article at the time of writing this post.

    Why is shooting people considered acceptable, fun and something to laugh at? 

    Americans, at what point did you all lose your humanity?

    What is *wrong* with you people?

    Yours sincerely,
    The Rest of the World.

    1. Because if we didn’t laugh at it, we’d have to cry. And after the seeing the past 10 years of our country’s behavior, we have no tears left.

      1. Jesus holy fuck, I’ve seen some pompous remarks online, but this is the most pretentious, insulting shit I’ve seen in years.

        No, man. The reason Americans seem to think our violent culture is alright is because so far, we haven’t run up against anybody willing to put us in our place.

        The greedy, power-hungry sociopaths have free run of the country right now and will maintain that control until they are crushed into submission or death by some greater force. That’s simply what the situation is. Those mercenary idiots are just tools of the trade.

  8. On their last album, ‘Wrath’, Lamb of God recorded an excellent song called ‘Contractor’ concerning the likes of Blackwater:

    The chorus and bridge are particularly apt:

    Guaran-fucking-teed, Just sign the deed
    Guaran-fucking-teed, Someone will bleed

    Someone has got to die

    Ours is not to reason why
    Ours is but to do if the pay rate’s right
    Black liquid assets fuck the mujahideen
    Paint their picket fences red with the American dream

  9. Someone needs to make a first-person shooter mod called “Blackwater: The Game” — your goal is to go around committing atrocities like this. For as many missions as it takes to get the point across.

    Don’t politicise it. Just force the player to execute people in a NON-rewarding way (don’t make it a “hell yeah” game experience for entertainment — in other words, it should not be made by Call of Duty fans).

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