Commentary Magazine


Integrating Private Security in Iraq

So this is the upshot of all the hullabaloo about Blackwater: It seems that its gunslingers will continue to guard State Department personnel in Iraq but will do so under the auspices of a competing company, Triple Canopy, hitherto best known for supplying the dour Peruvians who guarded the Green Zone. This is a result of the fact that the State Department security service does not have the paramilitary capacity to operate in a warzone, or even a country making the transition from being a warzone. So it has to rely on outside contractors, and no other company has anything like the resources that Blackwater has assembled over the years. These include 600 vetted security guards with government clearances and its own fleet of helicopters.

The result of all the furor, then, is simply to continue more or less the present operations but under a different corporate rubric. According to the New York Times:

The Iraqis now seem prepared to accept the prospect that many or even most of the former Blackwater employees will remain on the job as Triple Canopy employees. “It doesn’t matter who they are, what their names are, or what uniform they wear,” said Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, “as long as they are subject to Iraqi law and their company follows Iraqi laws.”

That buttresses a point I’ve made in the past: Instead of demonizing Blackwater and its ilk, we need to find a way to better integrate them with government operations in places like Iraq and to hold them more accountable for their conduct.