- One of the biggest private security firms in Iraq has
created outrage after a memo to staff claimed it is 'fun' to shoot people.
- Emails seen by The Observer reveal that employees of
Blackwater Security were recently sent a message stating that 'actually
it is "fun" to shoot some people.'
- Dated 7 March and bearing the name of Blackwater's president,
Gary Jackson, the electronic newsletter adds that terrorists 'need to get
creamed, and it's fun, meaning satisfying, to do the shooting of such folk.'
- Human rights groups said yesterday that the comments
raised fresh questions over the role of civilian contractors operating
in Iraq and other world flashpoints.
- 'We are very concerned about the increased use of security
companies, there needs to be more inspection and regulation of these companies,'
said a spokesman for Amnesty International.
- Blackwater has already been the subject of lobbying efforts
to introduce tighter regulations on private military operations in Iraq.
- It is one of the fastest growing private security firms
in the world, and achieved global prominence last year when four of its
men were ambushed by a crowd of Iraqis and their bodies mutilated and dragged
around the Iraqi city of Falluja.
- The controversial wording of the Blackwater bulletin
appears to be an attempt to criticise the 'righteous outcry' that followed
a recent statement from a senior US Marine general who, on returning home
from Iraq, claimed it was 'fun to shoot some people'. While the views of
Lieutenant-General James Mattis drew a frosty response from the Pentagon,
others said his observations reflected the harsh realities of war.
- Blackwater's entry to the debate appears to suggest that
satisfaction can be drawn from combat if 'the bad guys' get what they deserve.
- 'All of us who have ever waited through an hour and a
half movie, or read some 300 pages of a thriller, to the point when the
bad guys finally get their comeuppance know this perfectly well,' says
the opening address of the six-page bulletin, which The Observer believes
to be authentic.
- Called Blackwater Tactical Weekly, the newsletter was
sent to environmental activist Frank Hewetson as well as the firm's staff.
Last year Hewetson was offered a job by Blackwater with a salary of up
to £85,000 plus health benefits to work with its 'military crisis
operations support team.' Although he declined, Hewetson remains on the
- The 7 March bulletin also features a plug for Blackwater's
training academy which offers potential recruits an eight-week course that
includes training in various firearms, close quarter protection, physical
security as well as 'ground fighting.'
- Among its various roles in post-war Iraq, Blackwater
has guarded provincial outposts for the Iraqi coalition provisional authority
and had the contract to keep former chief US envoy Paul Bremer alive.
- The company has been praised for its role in the rescue
of a wounded soldier in Najaf. Defence experts have described Blackwater
as a major player in the field of private arms with an important role to
play in aiding American security in the war on terror.
- Other Blackwater emails seen by The Observer, from last
year, indicate the large market for civilian contractors in war zones.
'We will probably require at least 3000-4000 professionals above and beyond
what we have in the Blackwater employment and resource system,' states
- There are thought to be as many as 20,000 private enterprise
soldiers in Iraq, with the US military an advocate of their use. This system
allows governments to save money on paying permanent soldiers, and offers
the political bonus that it is unlikely to attract as much media attention
as conventional troops.
- The Observer made numerous attempts to contact Blackwater's
head office in North Carolina, but no calls were returned. There is, however,
no evidence that company staff have ever shot people for fun.
- The firm is understood to have disciplined and well-trained
recruits. A number are thought to be elite soldiers who have retired from
military special-operations units. Blackwater also offers extensive psychological
counselling programmes to combat potentially traumatic battlefield stress.
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