Romney silent on Blackwater shooting
By: Kenneth P. Vogel
Sep 22, 2007
Mitt Romney has remained mum on the alleged killing of 11 Iraqis by a company where one of his top advisers serves as vice chairman, even as the case has led to an uproar in Baghdad and Washington. Barack Obama, John McCain and other politicians have raised the possibility of tighter controls on the firm.
The top counterterrorism and national security adviser to Romney’s presidential campaign is Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater USA. The Iraqis died after guards employed by the private security firm opened fire following an alleged attack on a State Department convoy under their protection. Blackwater has a lucrative contract to guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Blackwater has said its employees acted “lawfully and appropriately” in response to the attack. But Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf has said a report found that the security guards opened fire first on Iraqis who were driving in their cars. And the incident has prompted a noisy debate over the role of independent security contractors in Iraq — a debate Romney thus far appears to be steering clear of.
The shooting renewed critics’ allegations that U.S. security contractors, in general, and Blackwater, in particular, are basically unregulated mercenary armies deployed by the U.S. government on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. And the policy discussion sparked by the incident may begin to color the debate over troop levels in Iraq, a topic that’s played prominently in the presidential race.
“There is no way you can have a rational discussion of troop redeployment without discussing how contract employees are going to be a part of that equation,” said a senior Republican congressional source who has worked on security contractor issues. “There’s consensus on both sides that additional oversight of these contractors is necessary. This is going to be a front-burner issue now as we begin to discuss safe, responsible redeployment and as we continue to learn more about incidents involving private security contractors.”
Why would anyone be surprised that Flipping Mitt would be mute on this? From the man who said he wanted to DOUBLE Guantanamo? Asking him to take a principled stand about mercenaries killing INNOCENTS? Please. That would mean that he had a backbone, and virtues.
Iraq Wants Blackwater Out of the Country