See this story:
"Sixteen private American security guards are under investigation for shooting at U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians during a three-hour spree west of Baghdad, the military said Thursday.
The Marines said the 16 Americans and three Iraqi contractors were arrested and held in a military jail for three days
(my emphasis) after spraying small arms fire at Iraqi civilians and U.S. forces from their cars in Fallujah
(added emphasis) late last month.
There were no casualties.
Many Iraqis resent high-profile security details who speed along highways in sports utility vehicles bristling with automatic weapons.
Senior government officials, who are prime targets of militants wreaking havoc across Iraq, use private security firms for their own protection.
No charges have been filed yet following the May 28 shootings."Military Investigates U.S. Guards in Iraq
June 9, 2005Sounds innocuous enough, no?Now read this: The same story, the same day, the same news source (The Guardian):
"A group of American security guards in Iraq have alleged they were beaten, stripped and threatened with a snarling dog by US marines when they were detained after an alleged shooting incident outside Falluja last month."I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane,"
one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names." **
This is believed to be the first time that private military contractors have been detained in Iraq by the US military, and it has reignited debate about their status and accountability.
The security guards claim the shooting incident was a case of mistaken identity. A spokeswoman for the company told the LA Times that the guards had fired warning shots into the air when an unidentified vehicle approached their vehicle as it passed through Falluja, but had not fired at any marines.
... Mark Schopper, a lawyer for two of the contractors, told the newspaper that his clients, both former marines, were subjected to "physical and psychological abuse". He said they had told him that marines had "slammed around" several con tractors, stripped them to their underwear and placed a loaded weapon near their heads.
"How does it feel to be a big, rich contractor now?" one of the marines is alleged to have shouted at the men, in an apparent reference to the large sums of money private contractors can make in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel David Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, who did not respond to emails from the Guardian, said in an email to the LA Times: "The Americans were segregated from the rest of the detainee population and, like all security detainees, were treated humanely and respectfully.
(emphasis added, all?? see ** above
According to Peter Singer, a Brookings Institute scholar and author of the book Corporate Warriors, private military contractors in Iraq are operating in a black hole
(emphasis added) as they do not fall within the military chain of command. "What appears to have happened here is tension between forces bubbling to the surface
," he told the Guardian. (emphasis added, more of a sign of deteriorating moral, my comment
But he said the incident also raised the question of what happens to contractors if they are caught doing something wrong, such as firing on civilians, as their legal status is not defined. "If the marines think [the contractors] did do something illegal there is no process they can go through. Who are they going to hand them over to?"
Mr Singer said. "There have been more than 20,000 [contractors] on the ground in Iraq for more than two years and not one has been prosecuted for anything."
(emphasis added)Marines 'beat US workers' in Iraq
June 9, 2005An Update: Who is Zapata Corporation? (I am not sure of why the music is there, and the other seven links in the same site are dubious and, I believe, are tainted).
"Reports about armed confrontations between active duty U.S. and coalition military forces and coalition armed private military contractors in Iraq have gone from a trickle to a steady flow. While fragging incidents between U.S. enlisted and officers were more commonplace in Vietnam than ever admitted by the Pentagon, the violence between active military and quasi-mercenaries in Iraq is a fairly new phenomenon, according to U.S. military experts. What is occurring in Iraq is not friendly fire but willful fighting between occupation forces. "Unfriendly Fire: Hostile incidents increasinf between US military and private military contractors in Iraq
June 13, 2005Don't fret. The UN to the rescue:
"Thousands of people are detained in Iraq without due process in apparent violation of international law, the United Nations has said, adding that 6,000 of the country's 10,000 prisoners were in the hands of the US military.
In Iraq, ''one of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process,'' Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday in a report to the 15-nation UN Security Council.According to the Iraqi Justice Ministry, there were about 10,000 detainees in all of Iraq as of April
(emphasis added), ''6,000 of whom were in the custody of the Multinational Force'' commanded by the United States, Annan said."US-led forces in Iraq hold 6,000 prisoners -UN
June 9, 2005Suddenly, immediately after April 2005, the "detainee population surpassed 11,350 last week, a nearly 20 percent jump since Iraq's Jan. 30 elections." by May 9, 2005
.And to that, add by now about 1,300 civilian/suspected detainees from the 'Iraqi' Shiite and Kurdish militias' "Operation Lightning" in June, 2005.
As for the UN