By Adam Jacobson
Law and Security Program
Captain America, Superman…Blackwater? The disgraced private military and security firm will soon join the ranks of these patriotic superheroes with its own comic book. According to a press release, “The Blackwater Chronicles,” will be a graphic novel based on the real-life “adventures” of Blackwater contractors in Iraq.
Creator Billy Tucci says,
“Like most people, all I had heard or read concerning private security contractors was that they were reckless cowboys whose actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were considered almost criminal by the media who weren’t there. Then I read the amazing first-hand experiences in Robert Young Pelton’s book, ‘Licensed To Kill’. Pelton lived, rode and flew under fire with Blackwater and other PSCs [private security contractors] on their daily missions. His book and the men he introduced me to provided incredible insight to the men behind the myth and the sacrifices they made.”
The press release also notes that the Blackwater comic book “is being done with the direct approval of Blackwater founder and former owner Erik Prince and the contractors.” Not surprising. In recent years, we’ve seen a PR campaign from Blackwater, which now also has its own video game.
To be clear: the same Blackwater contractors that Tucci is attempting to glorify are accused of killing 17 unarmed civilians and wounding dozens more at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square in 2007. This is not media speculation, this is fact.
Blackwater contractors were found guilty of killing Afghan civilians and have been implicated in other abuses, including killing the bodyguard of the Iraqi Vice President. Blackwater (now known as Academi, after a short time under the name Xe) may even be responsible for the deaths of their own contractors, sending them into the most dangerous places without even the most basic required equipment and briefing.
Human Rights First has been leading the fight for the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) to increase accountability and oversight of U.S. private security contractors abroad. These are the same standards that service members and Department of Defense contractors and are held to, and industry leaders are in favor of clear-cut rules and fair measures that hold bad actors accountable.
Try as it might, Blackwater cannot whitewash its bloody history. Its legacy is tainted with incidents of serious crimes and abuse. If it shows up in comic books, it should be as the villain, not the hero.