Pentagon vs. Blackwater Standards: How Low Can We Go?


Pam Spaulding has an excellent piece referencing some of the Blackwater questions I posted below.
And a TWN reader who also happens to be one of America’s most distinguished former Ambassadors raised questions about the applicability of international law to the Blackwater case:

Excellent questions. In particular, on what basis would a contractor be exempted from the normal requirement for non-discriminatory employment practices? I can’t see any legal basis for applying “don’t-ask-don”t-tell” to private employers.
I also don’t see any basis in international law for exempting privately employed individuals from the application of the law, including the laws prohibiting crimes against humanity, regardless of what Jerry Bremer may have decreed when ruling Iraq. If the Iraqis won’t prosecute them for murder, reckless mayhem, and related crimes, I imagine the international criminal court could do so.

Makes sense to me.
— Steve Clemons


4 comments on “Pentagon vs. Blackwater Standards: How Low Can We Go?

  1. Steve Clemons says:

    Very good and interesting exchange between the two of you, Kevin Jon Heller and Scott Paul. I also appreciate the anonymized Ambassador’s comments.
    Steve Clemons


  2. Scott Paul says:

    Hm, interesting thought. I had understood differently, but you could be right. I’ll have to ask around on this point.


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ya gotta wonder just how many gangbangers are being trained in urban warfare.


  4. Scott Paul says:

    OK, I swear I’m not rebutting Steve’s post just because he just came out on the other side of the Armenian genocide issue. There is a legitimate point to be made, though, that Steve’s ambassador friend is off target regarding the International Criminal Court and Blackwater.
    It couldn’t happen. First of all, Iraq is not a state party to the ICC, so the Prosecutor couldn’t initiate an investigation.
    Second, as egregious as the crimes committed by Blackwater personnel are, I don’t think they rise to the level of those laid out in the Rome Statute of the ICC. Committing war crimes isn’t enough; the ICC only has jurisdiction over war crimes “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.” Similarly, it can only hear cases on crimes against humanity “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.”
    That means that unless some Blackwater employee orchestrated systemic violence, the terrible crimes that were committed could not be prosecuted at the ICC. And even in that case, since Iraq is not a State Party, the only way the ICC could investigate the situation is if it were referred by the Security Council, with U.S. consent.
    Iraqis will have to look elsewhere for justice.


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