While there are many private security companies working in Iraq, they evidently all have the same public affairs consultant advising them on how to shape media coverage when they kill Iraqi civilians.

The template runs something like this:

  1. Emphasise the “professionalism” of your personnel. Refer to their previous employment as actual soldiers, or, if possible, their “specialist” or “elite” backgrounds. This will counter the outrageous suggestion you employ whatever violent, gun-toting cowboys you can dredge up around the world.
  2. Declare that, due to “the fog of war”, it is too early too determine what precisely has occurred, or even if anyone has actually been killed, but in any event pre-emptively declare that your personnel “acted lawfully and appropriately.”
  3. Note the rigorous, almost bureaucratic, procedures your personnel have for warning Iraqis to stop driving in their own streets. These could include hand signals, warning shots and smoke flares – indeed, everything short of filling out a form. This subtly suggests the victims are to blame for getting themselves killed. If possible, encourage a dopey foreign minister to blame the victim as well.
  4. Carefully omit mention of potentially distracting facts such as that your vehicles are unmarked, or that the dead Iraqis were women and kids.
  5. Conduct your own unimpeachably independent internal inquiry, which demonstrates that your personnel were not at fault.
  6. Better yet, have the occupying Government that relies on you for protection, and with whom you are closely politically aligned, conduct an inquiry. This will take so long as to render the outcome irrelevant, if only because a new country will have been occupied by the time it is finished.
  7. Employ as much euphemistic language as possible in order to obscure the simple fact of mercenaries opening fire on unarmed civilians. “Security teams”, which may be “mobile” while escorting a “package”, “return defensive fire”, fearing an “vehicle-based improvised explosive device”. Afterwards, express “regret” for the “incident”.
  8. Note that some of your own personnel have been killed or injured while in Iraq, providing some much-needed balance to the liberal media’s obsession with civilian casualties.

Most of all, pray like hell the deaths of a few more Iraqi civilians goes unnoticed in the constant cycle of bloodshed from a place most westerners now simply want to forget.