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According to State Dept. officals, Donald Rumsfeld's anger at losing control of funds to build the new embassy in Baghdad left State with no choice but to turn to Blackwater for its security.

In 2004 the State Department began planning for its new U.S. embassy in Baghdad and Rumsfeld lost a turf war for control of the billions in construction funds. As a result, Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowits decided protecting State was no longer their concern:

A new executive order, signed in January 2004, gave State authority over all but military operations. Rumsfeld’s revenge, at least in the view of many State officials, was to withdraw all but minimal assistance for diplomatic security...

Meetings to negotiate an official memorandum of understanding between State and Defense during the spring of 2004 broke up in shouting matches over issues such as their respective levels of patriotism and whether the military would provide mortuary services for slain diplomats.

(HT to ThinkProgress) :: ::

(UPDATE): Or as nonnie9999 puts it in the comments: Rumsfeld "took his ball and went home, leaving State department to deal with diplomatic security"

The State Dept. says it decided to do what appeared the expedient thing to them at that time: "Take over the Pentagon's personal security contract with Blackwater and extend it for a year."  Without much know-how in providing its own protection and with Rumsfeld saying it wasn't his problem, they turned to Blackwater.

"It was the view of Donald Rumsfeld and [then-Deputy Defense Secretary] Paul Wolfowitz that this(protecting the State Dept diplomats) wasn't their problem," said a former senior State Department official.
It was clear that the mission was beyond DS capabilities, and as the mid-2004 embassy opening approached, "we had to decide what we were going to do," the former State Department official said. "We had to get jobs done, and to do that we had to have some protection."

Fast-forward to 2007 and Blackwater is under intense media scrutiny for killing civillians in Nissor Square (among other things), faces investigations by the Iraqi Goverment and the State Dept. itself, and is drawing attention from the U.S. Congress as well.

Now the Pentagon is saying it wants the control back. The question is, is this simply the latest round of a 3-year-old spat?

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said last week that the contractors are at "cross purposes" with military goals, and he has suggested they be put under his authority. Many at State see this as a power grab by a Defense Department that has long refused to supply protection for diplomats. Since last month's shootings, one diplomat said, the Pentagon "has spared no expense to excoriate Blackwater and the State Department."

Great. If this is true, then it appears that the Pentagon must be gleefully rubbing its hands together and laughing at the recent failures of Blackwater under the direction of the State Department.

I have to admit that it might make a certain amount of sense that if contractors are going to be acting as soldiers then they should be under the same control structure as the soldiers. (the pentagon)

But if this is the case, then whey wasn't this done 3 years ago? Why was a petty turf war and Rumsfeld's pride allowed to lead to what Gates is now calling a lousy decision for the Pentagon to give up control of a contractor and wash its hands of protecting the State Department?

Is this any way to prosecute an occupation, when a turf war over money and control by two departments of the Bush administration is apparantly more important than the fact that innocent civillians are being gunned down for the crime of Driving While Iraqi?

Originally posted to Liberal Bent on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 02:30 AM PDT.

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