As far as Blackwater's many sins
go, this one's pretty minor. But it's got that special Blackwater touch.
Back in 2005, The New York Times reports
, a Blackwater helicopter dropped tear gas (CS gas) on a checkpoint in Baghdad's Green Zone. "An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.... A number of Iraqi civilians, both on foot and in cars waiting to go through the checkpoint, were also exposed. " The gas, which the American military itself "can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders," causes burning eyes, skin irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing and sometimes even vomiting.
Blackwater's explanation, by way of spokeswoman Anne Tyrell, was that "a CS gas canister was mistaken for a smoke canister and released near an intersection and checkpoint." If there was some mistake, both the helicopter and the vehicle on the ground seem to have been mistaken. Oops.
Oddly enough, Army officers told the Times
that "the Blackwater convoy appeared to be stuck in traffic and may have been trying to use the riot-control agent as a way to clear a path." Now, how blinding everyone in the area would help traffic to clear isn't immediately clear to me. Nor is it clear to Capt. Kincy Clark who was hit by the gas and wrote, "Why someone would think a substance that makes your eyes water, nose burn and face hurt would make a driver do anything other than stop is beyond me.âNote
: Blackwater hired
its third lobbyist recently.