Death by Mercenary

The indispensable Leila Fadel reports from Baghdad for McClatchy:

During the ensuing week, as Crocker and Petraeus told Congress that the surge of more U.S. troops to Iraq was beginning to work and President Bush gave a televised address in which he said "ordinary life was beginning to return" to Baghdad, Blackwater security guards shot at least 43 people on crowded Baghdad streets. At least 16 of those people died.

Now, obviously, Blackwater is operating in a legitimately deadly environment so some of this violence was probably justified. But "interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors of each incident describe similar circumstances in which Blackwater guards took aggressive action against civilians who seemed to pose no threat." And of course the system under which Blackwater is operating -- a system in which neither US military justice nor Iraqi law applies to Blackwater personnel -- is an open invitation to abuse. No government, be in headquartered in Washington or Baghdad, that was genuinely concerned with the well-being of the Iraqi people could possibly let an organization operate under those terms.