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My Letter to Condi Rice

I am concerned about the State Department’s use of Blackwater Security to protect State Department officers in Iraq.

As a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired Foreign Service Officer, I believe that it is important for the United States to hold the moral high ground. Recent revelations about Blackwater’s activities in Iraq raise questions about whether the State Department is undermining its honor and credibility by continuing to employ Blackwater. How can we call on Iraq to adhere to the rule of law when our own contractors flout the rule of law in Iraq? It certainly does not help us overcome our image, in Iraq and around the world, created by Abu Ghraib and other atrocities.

In addition, I do not like the fact that the State Department is promoting the use of mercenary soldiers by the US Government. As an Army veteran, it offends me that the State Department refuses to rely on the US military to protect it. The State Department and the Marine Corps have a long tradition of Marine Security Guards protecting American embassies overseas. Yet, when there is a real security threat, the State Department says, “We don’t trust the Marines to protect us.” It’s ironic that Ambassador Crocker appeared before Congress with General Petraeus to praise the performance of the American military in Iraq, but Ambassador Crocker says by his actions, “I don’t trust the US military to protect me personally.”

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