|Jan Hedlun, right, at victory celebration last year after
Blackwater dropped plans to build a training base in Potrero.
February 1, 2009 (San Diego's East County) —--"Blackwater has been fired
by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq," ABC
News has reported. The U.S. State Department has announced
it will not renew a $1.2 billion contract for Blackwater's Iraqi operations
after Iraq refused to license the U.S. firm. Iraqi officials cited "lingering
outrage" over September 2007 shootings by Blackwater guards that killed 17
civilians in Iraq's Nisour Square. In East County, leaders who
fought to keep Blackwater from opening a training camp in Potrero greeted the
news with cautious optimism, while Blackwater Vice President Brian Bonfiglio
defended the company's record.
"Huzzah!!!!!! Miracles do happen!" Jan Hedlun, Potrero Planning Group
member who led her town's battle to oust Blackwater, stated in an e-mail to
East County Magazine. But she added, "Although we know this is not the demise
of Blackwater, persay, or companies like them, it is gratifying to know that
their mask has been lifted and they have been seen for what they are. And
though they continue to try to fly under the radar of public scrutiny and the
transparency promised is still not forthcoming, now we are aware of the danger
inherent in our ignorance." Hedlun cited a quote by James Thurber: "Let
us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."