The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would make security contractors in Iraq accountable under American criminal law. The measure was introduced in the wake of a furor over a deadly Sept. 16 shootout involving Blackwater USA employees, who were guarding U.S. diplomats. The bill, passed Thursday over strong objections from the White House, would require the FBI to investigate future complaints of wrongdoing.
It’s about time Blackwater and other contractors were “held accountable,” said the New York Post in an editorial. There is no justification for the current arrangement giving hired guns “blanket immunity,” especially since this has allowed some bad apples to get away with murder. “U.S. soldiers face court-martial for a lot less.”
“Holding contractors accountable” is a fine idea, said Mark Hemingway in National Review Online, but judging them under the military justice system is “the way to go.” But the FBI is still investigating the shootout that started this fuss, and the facts have yet to be determined. So Democrats like Henry Waxman, who ran a hearing on contractors this week, should refrain from “grandstanding” to avoid “unfairly polluting the debate on private security contractors.”
The House “Fed-Exed this bill” through, said The Wall Street Journal, but let’s hope the Senate takes a closer look. U.S. military commanders tell us that Blackwater is “irreplaceable” in Iraq. Even as Washington remains consumed with the failings of a handful of contractors, it should count for something that not one diplomat has been killed under Blackwater’s protection. “It would be nice if there was just a smidgen of acknowledgment from the Democratic side of the aisle, or the parsons of the press, that these people are in a war zone.”