Nov

16

In Our Name, Beyond Our Laws?: Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

Written by

104 Jerome Greene Hall

Columbia University Amnesty International Presents a conversation with Susan Burke and Jeremy Scahill about private military contractors, human rights, and the future of warfare.
Susan Burke is a partner with Burke ONeil LLC, a law firm specializing in International Human Rights law. The firm is currently bringing civil actions against private military contractors in Iraq in an effort to hold the companies accountable for the various human rights abuses they have committed throughout the conflict. Susan serves as lead counsel on a number of these cases, specifically those related to the shootings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater Xe employees and the torture of Iraqi victims at the Abu Ghraib prison by private military contractors.
Jeremy Scahill is the author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful
Mercenary Army”. His book was a groundbreaking effort in exposing the political and moral conflicts surrounding one of the most notorious private military contractors in the Iraq war. He has since become an authority on Private Military Contractors, and is a frequent contributor to “The Nation” magazine, and a regular guest on “Democracy Now” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Columbia University Amnesty International Presents a conversation with Susan Burke and Jeremy Scahill about private military contractors, human rights, and the future of warfare.

Susan Burke is a partner with Burke ONeil LLC, a law firm specializing in International Human Rights law. The firm is currently bringing civil actions against private military contractors in Iraq in an effort to hold the companies accountable for the various human rights abuses they have committed throughout the conflict. Susan serves as lead counsel on a number of these cases, specifically those related to the shootings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater Xe employees and the torture of Iraqi victims at the Abu Ghraib prison by private military contractors.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful¬†Mercenary Army”. His book was a groundbreaking effort in exposing the political and moral conflicts surrounding one of the most notorious private military contractors in the Iraq war. He has since become an authority on Private Military Contractors, and is a frequent contributor to “The Nation” magazine, and a regular guest on “Democracy Now” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

3 Comments

  1. If Columbia University Amnesty International were interested in some balance and accuracy they would be wise to invite someone to provide some balance, ideally someone from the industry or perhaps an unbiased academic. Ms Burke's clients obviously benefit from a skewed view of the industry and Mr. Scahill made his money skewing the view of the industry. Is the goal of the forum to ensure opposing views - or even more accurate perspectives - are not learned by the audience?

    Best regards,

    Doug Brooks
    President, IPOA

  2. dean

    Another screed by liberal US-hating leftists presented by a liberal US-hating leftist organization.

    Columbia University should be ashamed, but then again, you are the people that invited the Iranian President to spew hate and anti-Jewish sentiment on your grounds.

    No thanks.

    Dean

  3. You know what is really interesting about Scahill's book, is that it gets all of these glowing reviews for journalism and accuracy, but in fact, it is filled with flaws and conjecture. The entire chapter on Hurricane Katrina and Blackwater's roll there, was a joke. Scahill actually had the audacity to say that BW should have not rescued people off of the roofs of homes, using their helicopter, because the helicopter was certified for said activities. So I guess with that logic, Scahill would much rather have those people die and rot away on their roofs? Pffft.
    As for balance at an event like this? I think students who truly consider themselves 'educated' and 'open-minded', will look at this event as typical left leaning and highly biased rhetoric. Even the title of the event is biased. Like Doug said, there are plenty of folks in this industry that would gladly debate with Jeremy and Susan about the subject. Men and women who are way more qualified to give an opinion and point of view about the subject, than these two.
    Finally, Scahill and company are gutless. I am a blogger, I work in the security contracting industry in places like Iraq, and have had co-workers die in the line of duty. What we do out there is honorable and necessary, and we are an essential part of the war effort. To judge us, based on the actions of a few is absolutely unfair and is a slap in the face to those of us that have put it all on the line. I have made several attempts to contact Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill to discuss these matters, and they have no interest in doing so. Instead, they are purely driven by personal agendas, and could care less about any kind of journalistic integrity.
    Also, if anyone reading this would actually like to talk to one of us 'big bad security contractors', come on over to Feral Jundi and hang out. I provide the other side of the story on my blog, and if you want some balance about what it is we do and why we are doing it, then come on over.

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