Lindsay Beyerstein is all over the antics of Blackwater. I don’t have anything original to contribute, except for two comments from a friend who has spent time in Iraq:
1. Having the very same State Department officials whom Blackwater protects making decisions about whether to continue to give Blackwater employees carte blanche to kill innocent civilians with our money puts a substantial bias into the process.
2. Blackwater employees are exempt from prosecution in Iraq, but they’re not exempt from prosecution here. But that would require the Justice Departments to tell the FBI agents in Iraq to investigate, and it would require Justice Department prosecutors to follow up. (That might be a good question to ask Judge Mukasey at his confirmation hearings, if the Senators can get beyond Mukasey’s open tolerance for beating up people held as material witnesses.)
3. There’s no particular reason to think that Blackwater’s contract fighters behave any worse than those from, say, Dyncorp.
I don’t know the polling data: maybe the cowboy behavior that seems to be characteristic of Blackwater plays well with swing voters. But I know that I will think better of any legislator or Presidential candidate who helps make a big fuss about this.