Thursday, August 20, 2009

Least Surprising Story of the Year: Blackwater was Part of the CIA Assassination Program

The New York Times reported today that the CIA contracted with Blackwater to help out in the recently revealed, ultra-secret CIA terrorist assassination program. If you were to tell me that you were surprised to find this out then I would tell you that you've most likely lived under a rock for the past 5 years. If you'll recall, earlier this summer CIA Director Pannetta discovered that the CIA under President Bush created a secret program aimed a tracking and killing high profile terrorists. Pannetta revealed his discovery to Congress creating an immediate outcry about the CIA overstepping its authority.

I don't have a huge moral objection to the CIA tracking and killing terrorists although a strong argument can be made that we should focus on capturing terrorists and bring them to justice rather than just killing them. That being said, I obviously have an objection to the government outsourcing such a program. I'm not even going to attempt to list the legal, moral, and practical problems that arise with farming out killing people. These problems are only amplified when you take into consideration the company that you're contracting with - Blackwater. Blackwater is a company that has a notorious reputation for employing operatives that have little or no regard for the law or human life (an example would be when a group of Blackwater employees slaughtered more than 15 innocent civilians in downtown Baghdad) and, if that low regard is present even when they are not hired specifically to kill people, I cannot imagine what kinds of actions Blackwater would engage in when given the authority to seek out people and kill them. A government engaging in this activity is particularly unsettling. People accept the fact that their government may have to take the lives of others in order to protect their society. Unfortunately that is a necessary evil; however, it is precisely the fact that the taking of life is carried out by those our actual government that makes it acceptable. Contracting out killing to private entities is not something that should be tolerated. Giving that kind of authorization to a private actor can easily create a slippery slope sort of situation where that actor may start acting in its own interest but yet justify it in the name of protecting the country.

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