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Blackwater Was Defended, Rewarded by UN Security Chief Starr, Questions Mount

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 -- The questions emerging about military contractor Blackwater, now known as Xe Services LLC, extend to the top of the United Nation's security department. Public and private documents show that Gregory B. Starr, who earlier this year moved from the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service to head the UN's Department of Safety and Security, was the official responsible for continuing and defending Blackwater's contracts, even after the company's involvement in killing civilians in Iraq in 2007.

   Now Blackwater founder Erik Prince is being personally accused of murder. At the UN, Inner City Press has repeatedly asked that Starr finally give his first press conference since assuming his UN post more than three month ago.

   In September 2007, Blackwater contractors were involved in the killing of at least 17 civilians in Iraq. But six months later in April 2008, as acting head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Starr assessed Blackwater as "essentially I think they do a very good job."

  Over protests, Blackwater's contract with the U.S. government was extended: "'I have requested and received approval to have task order six -- which Blackwater has to provide personal protective services in Baghdad -- renewed ... for one year,' the head of diplomatic security, Gregory Starr, told reporters."

   Ironically, after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named Starr to replace former Security chief David Veness, who resigned in light of failures leading to the deadly bombing of UN premises in Algeria, the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries held a closed door session in New York, and took evidence on abuses by Blackwater.

UN's Ban swears in Gregory Starr, Blackwater issues not shown

  The Working Group's Chairperson-Rapporteur, Shaista Shameem, said that "it is crucial that the United States Government, as a major client of these companies, demonstrates its commitment to ensure full accountability of private military and security contractors for any possible violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

   In a major book on the subject, Starr is quoted that "it might be the case that Blackwater can't be held accountable... Starr and his colleagues argued that Blackwater was 'constitutionally immune' from such lawsuits."

   There are questions that the UN's new head of security should answer. Watch this site.

Footnotes: other DSS questions that Starr should publicly address include what training is given to DSS officers to deal with distraught but non-violent staff members, the Security Risk Assessments required for the UN's relocation under its Capital Master Plan, and what will be done about the DSS pre-determined promotions scandal....

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 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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