Summary of Blackwater

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The Iraq war has seen a vast expansion in the use of private security contractors to complement the U.S. military. But who are these contractors? Who pays them? And how did one contractor, Blackwater, become so entrenched? Jeremy Scahill answers these questions and more in this provocative, thoroughly reported book about the world’s largest, private mercenary army. Scahill has done a masterful job of researching this secretive organization to disclose its origins, motives, leaders and activities. getAbstract strongly recommends this compelling, disturbing story to anyone interested in the Iraq conflict, and in the larger picture of how private armies reshape warfare.

About the Author

Jeremy Scahill is a reporter for The Nation and Democracy Now!, and a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.



Private Warriors

In September 2007, a convoy of armored vehicles belonging to the major defense contractor Blackwater entered Baghdad’s upscale Nisour Square. While accounts differ about how the fight started, Blackwater’s mercenaries started driving the wrong way down a one-way street. In minutes, the convoy opened fire on civilian cars, killing 17 people and wounding more than 20.

That June, Blackwater employees’ violent acts already had drawn the attention of U.S. and Iraqi military and intelligence officials. But as complaints escalated, the officials got word that Blackwater worked for the State Department, and the investigations stopped. A drunk Blackwater contractor killed an Iraqi official’s bodyguard and was never charged. He was taken out of the country and his security clearance was revoked. Within weeks, another contractor hired him and sent him back to the Middle East. With the Nisour killings, as with other attacks involving Blackwater personnel, no one was prosecuted. The day after the shootings, the State Department ordered noncombat personnel, including Blackwater employees, to stay in the “safe” Green Zone. But within four days, Blackwater was back...

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