Feature

Blackwater and justice

What the indictment of five security guards says about the wisdom of using private contractors in Iraq

The indictment of five Blackwater Worldwide guards "may look like an exercise in accountability," said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, but it's probably just "a whitewash." That's because accusing these men of manslaughter for the "horrific massacre of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians" on Sept. 16, 2007, "absolves the government and corporate officials who should bear ultimate responsibility."

Maybe, but a trial is absolutely necessary, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. The victims and their families deserve justice, and the U.S. needs to show Iraqis that its contractors can't kill with impunity. Prosecuting the Blackwater guards "marks an important step toward repairing years of damage inflicted by a few Rambo-style private gunslingers."

But remember, said the Boston Herald in an editorial. This is an indictment of a handful of guards, not of the use of private security contractors in a war zone. The use of private contractors in Iraq helped stretch our military resources by freeing up soldiers from "peripheral duties," such as guarding diplomats, to focus on their mission. "But just as members of the military are not immune from prosecution should they exceed their authority, civilians must be held accountable, too."

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