On 14 September, 2007, six security contractors in the employ of the now infamous Black Rock Security, LLC, gunned down 22 innocent, unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad’s Green Square. I was appalled to learn that fully half of the mercs in question were former marines. Tragedies like this have incontrovertibly altered the perception of our armed forces in the region, both by armed Iraqi combatants and the civilian population at large. It makes it harder for our soldiers to do their jobs, and turns the already dangerous conditions of the war into an absolute powder keg. It is a scathing indictment of our country’s refusal to abide by the UN Mercenary Convention of 1989, which makes the use of contractors like Black Rock in combat situations illegal under international law. But far be it from our fearless leaders to sign a document like that. Not while there’s so much money at stake.
Cut to two years later, and thanks to a legal loophole, a judge dropped the charges against these same six mercs, citing the prosecutor’s use of tainted, compelled testimony. To say this was a gross miscarriage of justice would be a monumental understatement. After this decision came down, I got it in my head that someone needed to make those mercs pay for what they’d done. But cooler heads prevailed. Well, at least as far as the exonerated Black Rock mercs were concerned. While I continue to believe that the mercs should be held accountable for the atrocities they committed, after careful scrutiny, the presence of prosecutorial misconduct in their court case is undeniable. I have little doubt that these men acted improperly, and maintain that the U.S. government had no business utilizing soldiers of fortune in Iraq in the first place, but I also cannot claim to have been there on the ground in Green Square on 14 September when the shit hit the fan, and as such, it would be imprudent of me to malign these men’s motives. Hair-trigger situations are an inescapable part of everyday military life during the occupation of an enemy nation, a harsh reality I understand better than most. That said, I fully believe that, in the same situation, members of the U.S. armed forces would have reacted to this situation with a poise and restraint heretofore unseen in battlefield mercenaries. Which begged the question: who was truly responsible for this atrocity? Maybe the penny-pinching CEO whose greed enables these mercs’ lackluster training? The man whose hiring practices were suspect at best, and who the facts have shown to be nothing short of a war profiteer. The man called Henry Boucher. These war crimes occurred on Boucher’s watch, and in the wake of this tragedy, he did next to nothing to revamp his company’s corrupt practices. Nothing to ensure that more innocent men, women and children wouldn’t be senselessly slaughtered by the undisciplined, trigger-happy soldiers of fortune under his employ.
Officially, Henry Boucher has been listed as missing for the past 3 months. I can tell you now that Boucher is dead. I know because I killed him. I thought perhaps by cutting off the head of the beast, I would put an end to its tyranny for good. I didn’t count on it growing another one. But I’ve figured out what I did wrong. Naturally, I carried out Boucher’s execution and disposal in secret: I’m in no hurry to be arrested for my crimes. But I intended for Boucher’s death to be a cautionary tale, an indictment of his crimes and a warning to others like him who would cause untold suffering in the pursuit of greed. Boucher disappearing without a trace sent no such message. So now, finally, I openly accept full responsibility for the slaying of Black Rock’s CEO. I can’t produce the body, for fear some scrap of forensic evidence could lead back to me, but I can describe Boucher’s last moments in bloody detail. After that, there will remain no lingering questions about the fate of Henry Boucher.
I’ve read the memoirs of fellow snipers, who, after hours spent staring down the scope at a would-be target, waiting for just the right moment to strike, describe the emergence of a peculiar feeling that might best be described as camaraderie. And I can certainly relate. By the time you pull the trigger, you feel like you know them. Academically, you know they’re the enemy, but as much as you try to fight it, it’s hard not to wonder about the kind of person they are, the kind of dreams you’re cutting short… and what loved ones they’ll leave behind. As I spent hours each day parked outside of Boucher’s home, clocking the comings and goings of the CEO himself, his wife and his teenage daughter, you’d think a similar empathy would present itself. But here’s the difference: when I pull the trigger on an enemy combatant, I do so with a twinge of uncertainty. I don’t know the disposition of my targets, I don’t know if they are subhuman monsters, in fact, in all probability they’re not. Boucher, on the other hand, is a monster through and through. It’s a simple equation: remove one monster from the world and the world becomes a better place for it. It’s how society functioned for the lion’s share of human history, only now people have deluded themselves into thinking we’re too civilized to condone such casual executions.
At any rate, I needed a moment when the women of the house were out of the picture. Killing a man in front of his family is cruel, whether he’s a monster or not. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve done it before. I’ve seen the effect it can have on the survivors, and that’s a kind of pain I’ve sworn never to inflict again. Besides, I’m not doing this to be cruel.
I struck Boucher over the head with a paperweight I found in his office, knocking him out cold. I could have ended Boucher then and there, but that would have made an awful mess. As it was, his head wound was bleeding more than I anticipated, and I had to clean Boucher’s carpet before I took him outside and put two bullets in his skull. Still, even a cursory forensic investigation of Boucher’s office should reveal details of the deed. Run a black light over the rug near the office door and tell me I’m lying. Frankly, I’m surprised law enforcement didn’t stumble onto this before now.
Boucher was not my first kill. But he was my first righteous one: the first of many.
Fury of Solace
Doing evil so you don’t have to
Somewhere in Los Angeles
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