Have people seen the coverage of these Blackwater hearings?
The police officer, whom CNN is identifying only as Sarhan, said the Blackwater guards “seemed nervous” as they entered the square, throwing water bottles at the Iraqi police posted there and driving in the wrong direction. He said traffic police halted civilian traffic to clear the way for the Blackwater team.
Then, he said, the guards fired five or six shots in an apparent attempt to scare people away, but one of the rounds struck a car and killed a young man who was sitting next to his mother, a doctor.
Sarhan said he and an undercover Iraqi police officer ran to the car but they were unable to stop it from rolling forward toward the Blackwater convoy.
“I wanted to get his mother out, but could not because she was holding her son tight and did not want to let him go,” Sarhan said. “They immediately opened heavy fire at us.”
“Each of their four vehicles opened heavy fire in all directions, they shot and killed everyone in cars facing them and people standing on the street,” Sarhan said.
The shooting lasted about 20 minutes, he said.
“When it was over we were looking around and about 15 cars had been destroyed, the bodies of the killed were strewn on the pavements and road.”
Sarhan said no one ever fired at the Blackwater team.
“They became the terrorists, not attacked by the terrorists,” he said.
“I saw parts of the woman’s head flying in front of me, blow up and then her entire body was charred,” he said. “What do you expect my reaction to be? Are they protecting the country? No. If I had a weapon I would have shot at them.”
Mohammed Abdul Razzaq was driving into Nusoor Square with his sister, her three children and his 9-year-old son Ali at the same time the Blackwater team arrived.
“They gestured stop, so we all stopped,” Razzaq said. “It’s a secure area so we thought it will be the usual, we would stop for a bit as convoys pass. Shortly after that they opened heavy fire randomly at the cars with no exception.”
“My son was sitting behind me,” he said. “He was shot in the head and his brains were all over the back of the car.”
Further, the evidence is that they are violating their rules of engagement routinely:
Records of the company and State Department show Blackwater’s use of force in Iraq has been “frequent and extensive,” the report says.
Though Blackwater is authorized to use force only defensively, “the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are pre-emptive, with Blackwater forces firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire,” the report states.
And then covering it up:
The senior Iraqi police officer said Blackwater team members were questioned by Iraqi police immediately after the incident. The contractors first said they opened fire in response to a mortar attack, the officer said. However, the contractors then changed their story at least twice during the 90 minutes they were held, the officer said.
Iraqi police released a video of the aftermath of the shooting which shows a car that had damage consistent with a rocket-propelled grenade.
The video shows what appears to be the spent casing of a rifle-fired grenade, and the embassy source said the Blackwater guards were armed with a rifle-fired M-203 grenade.
The embassy source said a New York Times story reporting investigators were told that at least one guard drew a weapon on a fellow guard who did not stop shooting after colleagues called for a cease-fire was “pretty much true.”
These mercenaries (contractors is a pathetic euphemism) have been abusing their authority and killing civilians without provocation. Blackwater is war-profiteering and making things worse for the Americans and Iraqis. How about some jail time? Not just for the killers but for the CEO Erik Prince too.