Iraq contractors accused in shootings

By DEBORAH HASTINGS, AP National Writer Sat Aug 11, 2:10 PM ET

There are now nearly as many private contractors in Iraq as there are U.S. soldiers — and a large percentage of them are private security guards equipped with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bullet-proof trucks. They operate with little or no supervision, accountable only to the firms employing them. And as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war, this private army has been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys.

Not one has faced charges or prosecution.

There is great confusion among legal experts and military officials about what laws — if any — apply to Americans in this force of at least 48,000.

They operate in a decidedly gray legal area. Unlike soldiers, they are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there.

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Tom Dempsey is under scrutiny for a link to military trainers

By E.A. Torriero and Jodi S. Cohen

Tribune staff reporters

The University of Illinois is investigating potential conflicts of interest involving the director of the school’s prestigious police-training institute and Blackwater U.S.A., the military contractor.

The institute’s director, Tom Dempsey, signed an agreement in May allowing the state facility and private contractor to exchange staff and students and share facilities. The pact could give Blackwater a foothold in training candidates for sworn law-enforcement positions in Illinois.

Even as he represented the institute, Dempsey has also been working as a Blackwater consultant in his spare time, top university officials confirmed Monday in response to questions from the Tribune. On July 19, two months after Dempsey signed the institute’s partnership agreement with Blackwater, he submitted a written request for time off to consult for Blackwater.

University administrators who were unaware of the partnership agreement agreed to the 30-day leave of absence, which Dempsey requested so he could travel to Afghanistan to work for the North Carolina-based company in anti-drug-trafficking and police training of Afghan forces, according to university provost Linda Katehi.

Dempsey, 58, a former Marine and director of the institute since 2002, did not respond to several Tribune requests for comment last week and Monday. He is paid $118,178 annually by the university.

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Blackwater Rising

By Chuck Goudie

The world’s most controversial security service is now open for business in Illinois. But is Blackwater, Inc. looking to make Illinois an outpost for what has been called the world’s largest private army?

This is the same Blackwater that has become the icon for private security services in Iraq. According to critics, Blackwater is nothing more than a corporate warlord, based in North Carolina, with a payroll of hired gunslingers– hundreds of them now protecting diplomats and contractors in Iraq. Blackwater executives say they and their mission near a rural town south of Rockford are greatly misunderstood– that to know them is to like them– and that they want their new neighbors in Illinois to know them.

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Blackwater Seeps into Illinois

Silently among the rolling hills 10 miles from the beautiful Mississippi Palisades, down a country road like fog from the river moving through trees comes a dark presence to disturb the countryside with gun shots. It is not hunters looking for deer this time. It is not children with air rifles shooting pellets at tin cans on fence posts. This time the shots will be from the latest and most sophisticated weapons in the hands of those who are being trained in the art of killing. They are learning the skills required to survive in the quagmire of violence they will soon enter.

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The Cheney Affair

Now that mainstream media bias is an established fact and recognized as such by the mainstream reading and viewing public, the revelation of Vice President Dick Cheney’s total unilateral control over all levels and branches of American government has not only raised eyebrows and concerns of dictatorship, but for those politically astute, begs the question as to why theWashington Post would be the journalistic vehicle to publish the four-part June 24 through June 27 series exposing this reality.

The Post’s publisher, Donald E. Graham, has once again participated in the annual secret Bilderberg conclave, the latter the principal organizational player whose membership is made up of extremely high-level international bankers, mass media publishers, corporatists in both the oil industry and the military-industrial complex, and other principal international political movers and shakers. Bilderberg’s primary objective is a one world global government, the New World Order. And the NWO will be phased in via the European and then the North American Union.

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