Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Elvis and Security

Whenever our security contractors drive us through Baghdad, there are risks that they will take measures similar to what is captured in this video. It appears to be filmed from the last car in a convoy. In several different scenes spliced together, cars approach and a stream of bullets are fired. When I first watched the video, I thought that the gunner did not fire warning shots, but it seems that he does. Elvis plays in the background.

I have never been in a convoy and heard shots fired, though our Personal Security Detachment - the preferred nomenclature for the former soldiers responsible for our safety - do not hesitate when there is a possibility that an approaching car might be a suicide bomber. The last car has a mounted machine gun out the rear window. First, they fire a few warning shots in the air. Next, they shoot the pavement in front of the car. If the vehicle hasn't stopped at that point, they fire on it directly. Aiming at only the engine, I've been reassured. The security contractor who provides our PSDs, Reed, boasts that they're not as trigger-happy as their counterparts at Blackwater or DynCorp.

When I first arrived in Baghdad, I wrote an email to a friend who was also working here. I did not know what it would be like driving from the airport, but I was surprised to find it to be so similar to a military operation. If I were ever in a convoy and Iraqis were killed so that I could travel, I wrote, that would be the end of my stay here. If that tradgedy happened, how could I support my claim that I am here to help the Iraqi people? I don't feel the same way about that now. Maybe its because I have more trust in the abilities of the PSDs than I did before. They're not going to kill Iraqis unnecessarily, even if they do not hold them in the highest regard.


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