Blackwater revisited

Aug. 3, 2009 Update from The Nation: Blackwater founder Erik Prince implicated in murder.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. 

I wrote one of the most read Capitol Hill Blue columns, "Bush’s Blackwater, an armed and deadly mercenary Christian army". Here’s the staff report to the House Oversight Cttee., just released. I keep thinking I should take this column off the front page but as a story this is more like a wound that just won’t stop bleeding… Readers are still finding the column on search engines, so I’ll keep it here awhile longer. Plus, I have a hunch folks at Blackwater may not like the exclusive C.H.B. high resolution aerial photo of their training site. First the Iraqi government tried to ban Blackwater after they shot and killed between 11 and 20 innocents citizens. Then, after who knows what pressure from the U.S. the powers-that-pretend-to-be in Iraq’s government winked and blinked and next thing we know Blackwater is back with their itchy trigger fingers. Next thing we read is that some Blackwater hired guns may have been selling weapons to terrorists. And then we hear that there’s hard evidence coming to light about other killings of innocents. Read on here, and stay tuned to the news. Hopefuly the public will wake up with outrage to the role that Blackwater and other contractors play in Iraq. Exclusive high resolution aerial picture my friend took of the N. Carolina training site. . chb-blackwater-100.jpgWhen I wrote my original column in April like most of you I knew Blackwater was a military contractor with personnel in Iraq. I knew they also sent armed personnel to police the street of New Orleans after Katrina. But I did some research after a private pilot friend sent me a series of photographs he took flying over their 6,000 acre North Carolina training site ((See enlarged high resolution picture by clicking HERE), my friend took them not knowing whether there might be dire consequenses flying so close to their facility. "Accidents" happen.

The Geneva Conventions be damned

Once I did a little reading I was horrified at the secret virtually unregulated army Bush has at his beck and call. This mercenary army is arguably composed of conscienceless assassins who are among the best of the best, or worst of the worst, depending on your point of view about being highly skilled at "stability solutions" utilizing assault rifles. They pride themselves on "providing solutions that are practical, economical, timely and effective". One of their mottos. Amazingly, they sound like an IT consulting firm with body armor and AK-47s. You bet they provide solutions, because when another motto is "when failure is not an option and hope is not enough" who is going to quible about killing a few innocent civilians? When all the truth comes out about Blackwater’s activities I think we’ll find that what they got away with since they’ve been in Iraq makes Abu Ghraib’s torture look like fraternity hazing. Read the original column and comments here, and then click back to add new comments.

 

Comments

  1. CheckerboardStrangler

    Joe who “used to work for Blackwater” tells us all that “Blackwater will continue to fight in Iraq regardless of who is elected President” and that “they’re here to stay and we might as well get used to it”.

    The Texas Castle Doctrine and the International Court are both here to stay, and Blackwater might as well get used to them too, especially the former if they decide to expand operations stateside.

    Anything that isn’t a sworn peace officer working for the federal, state, city, county or local government that attempts to claim law enforcement powers should be treated the same as any armed thug on the streets or any armed thug entering one’s home.

    Law abiding citizens do not have to surrender to mercenaries for any reason and have every right to oppose them with deadly force if necessary.

  2. cicada

    This Ron Paul thing bothers me.Is this just a back door candidate of the republican gangsters?
    Where is the money coming from,that is spent on all this campaigning for someone not even officially running for president.
    The last thing we need is another criminal gang of republicans,BEWARE!!
    NO INCUMBENTS IN 2008.

  3. Helen Rainier

    SEAL,

    I responded to another post of your yesterday regarding Blackwater and their contracts — like you, I thought their contracts with State. However, in a cursory search I did it appears that Blackwater’s contracts are, in fact, with Homeland Security.

    If anyone has more info on these contracts or knows of a good resource, I would appreciate a link to that info.

    I think I mentioned in my post yesterday that it was L. Paul Bremer, former head of the CPA who issued the policy the “blanket immunity” order pertaining to Blackwater — if that same order applies to other private milcons is something I don’t know — but would like to find out — as well as the names of the companies, their contracts, terms of contracts, etc.

    I did look at a bar graph a few days ago that illustrated BW’s total dollar amounts of federal contracts on a yearly basis since 2000. It was alarming to see how much money they have received from US since the Bushies have been installed in office.

  4. Hal Brown

    Read the reference above, this book “Philip Dru, Administrator: A story of Tomorrow, 1920-1935” by Edward Mandell House can be read for free on Project Gutenberg eBook.

    This is the table of contents:

    “No war of classes, no hostility to existing wealth, no wanton or unjust violation of the rights of property, but a constant disposition to ameliorate the condition of the classes least favored by fortune.”
    –MAZZINI.

    This book is dedicated to the unhappy many who have lived and died lacking opportunity, because, in the starting, the world-wide social structure was wrongly begun.

    CONTENTS – CHAPTERS

    I GRADUATION DAY
    II THE VISION OF PHILIP DRU
    III LOST IN THE DESERT
    IV THE SUPREMACY OF MIND
    V THE TRAGEDY OF THE TURNERS
    VI THE PROPHET OF A NEW DAY
    VII THE WINNING OF A MEDAL
    VIII THE STORY OF THE LEVINSKYS
    IX PHILIP BEGINS A NEW CAREER
    X GLORIA DECIDES TO PROSELYTE THE RICH
    XI SELWYN PLOTS WITH THOR
    XII SELWYN SEEKS A CANDIDATE
    XIII DRU AND SELWYN MEET
    XIV THE MAKING OF A PRESIDENT
    XV THE EXULTANT CONSPIRATORS
    XVI THE EXPOSURE
    XVII SELWYN AND THOR DEFEND THEMSELVES
    XVIII GLORIA’S WORK BEARS FRUIT
    XIX WAR CLOUDS HOVER
    XX CIVIL WAR BEGINS
    XXI UPON THE EVE OF BATTLE
    XXII THE BATTLE OF ELMA
    XXIII ELMA’S AFTERMATH
    XXIV UNCROWNED HEROES
    XXV THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE REPUBLIC
    XXVI DRU OUTLINES HIS INTENTIONS
    XXVII A NEW ERA AT WASHINGTON
    XXVIII AN INTERNATIONAL CRISIS
    XXIX THE REFORM OF THE JUDICIARY
    XXX A NEW CODE OF LAWS
    XXXI THE QUESTION OF TAXATION
    XXXII A FEDERAL INCORPORATION ACT
    XXXIII THE RAILROAD PROBLEM
    XXXIV SELWYN’S STORY
    XXXV SELWYN’S STORY, CONTINUED
    XXXVI SELWYN’S STORY, CONTINUED
    XXXVII THE COTTON CORNER
    XXXVIII UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE
    XXXIX A NEGATIVE GOVERNMENT
    XL A DEPARTURE IN BATTLESHIPS
    XLI THE NEW NATIONAL CONSTITUTION
    XLII NEW STATE CONSTITUTIONS
    XLIII THE RULE OF THE BOSSES
    XLIV ONE CAUSE OF THE HIGH COST OF LIVING
    XLV BURIAL REFORM
    XLVI THE WISE DISPOSITION OF A FORTUNE
    XLVII THE WISE DISPOSITION OF A FORTUNE, CONTINUED
    XLVIII AN INTERNATIONAL COALITION
    XLIX UNEVEN ODDS
    L THE BROADENING OF THE MONROE DOCTRINE
    LI THE BATTLE OF LA TUNA
    LII THE UNITY OF THE NORTHERN HALF OF THE WESTERN
    HEMISPHERE UNDER THE NEW REPUBLIC
    LIII THE EFFACEMENT OF PHILIP DRU

  5. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Blackwater along with everything related to this war is helping the dollar sink which is good for the Neo-Cons plan to bankrupt this nation so that Republicans can say social security, medicare & other saftey net programs have to be gutted because our nation can not afford them.

    Governor Booben-Grabber in my state of Kalifornia is pushing to use Blackwater in the event of a big earthquake. This gives me the willies. The Un-Constitutionalizer wants to give
    Dungwater permission to build a permanent military training base here in Kalifornia.

    The ramifications of Republicans geting into the White House and the likelyhood of them continuing the use of mercenaries is a valid point Seal, and I don’t think it’s digressing.

    To answer your question about Obama being the best man who could end the Clinton Dynasty, and that voting for Kucinich in the primary will increase Hillary’s chances to get the nomination has merit, but I still hold my original position on this subject.

    The way I look at it is there will never be a good time to vote on prinicple since there is always something that is at stake as a rationale to not vote for someone like Kucinich.

    Political pre-conditions for a candidate jockeying for a serious run, who does not tow major lobbying groups agendas have the odds heavily stacked against them. Groups like the Democratic Leadership Council who in turn takes money from these lobbyists makes the electioneering process a self perpetuating vicious circle that keeps on putting in politicians that are stooges for these lobbying groups agendas.

    There is never a good time to vote for principle so this is what drives my decision to vote for Kucinich.

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    Blackwater needs to have a homegrown solution applied to them. Any nation whose citizens tolerate a privately owned mercenary army to exist unregulated and unchecked will wake up one day to find out that this private army has become their new government.
    Read “Philip Dru, Administrator” for a quck peek at what the future holds.
    Blackwater is positioning themselves for an eventual corporate backed military takeover of the United States.
    You can call “tinfoil hat” all you want but remember that the largest trees grow from tiny mustard seeds.
    That’s a “Christian concept” and mark my words that the illustrious Mr. Prince will apply it, AND the tens of billions he rakes in, to the goal aforementioned.
    All Blackwater has to do is bide their time quietly and continue “providing solutions” until the time is right for them to “apply a solution” to America.

  7. Hal Brown

    BW home jobs side issue:

    Seal, I agree that the matter of what Blackwater employees will do for work when they no longer are employed as mercenaries is a side issue.

    What is important has been addressed by the mainstream media at long last. It is a shame it took this massacre to prompt this. Whether the government actually takes action is another matter. However at the very least the issues are being presented to the public.

    There’s a good article in today’s Washington Post that I suggest everyone read. It is on the front page of their print edition. For the online version your have to scroll down because the Post put a huge ad on the top of the page.

    LINK: Private Security Puts Diplomats, Military at Odds

    EXCERPT: “This is a nightmare,” said a senior U.S. military official. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we’re trying to have an impact for the long term.”

    P.S. Seal, No problem on getting into electoral politics but you can see how this often prompts responses that veer a thread off the original topic.

    I do agree with you on the draft. If Bush and Company, Inc. were running World War II the SeaBees would have been under Bechtel and the General Service and Engineer regiments would all have been Halliburton employees with their subsidiary, Brown and Root, running the entire Quartermaster Corps.

    Hell, maybe United Airlines could have provided fighter pilots, American Airlines, bomber pilots, TWA and Continental could have done all the transport flying.

  8. SEAL

    Hal: My apologies for what you perceived as violating the off topic rule and I will be more careful in the future. However, I don’t see it that way. My point was to prevent those from rising to power that would continue the practice of private mercenary forces being used in place of “real” army by our government. I was showing how this could be prevented. And I certainly was not campaigning for anyone. Obama just happens to be the person in the position to stop the continuation of Bush/Clinton family rule.

    Obviously I did not present it properly. I’m a warrior, not a writer. As a warrior for my country I am offended by the fact that my government dodges its responsibility to provide a proper military commitment where it is needed by refusing to institute a military draft. Instead they have hired private contractors at great expense to the taxpayers (about 10 times as much) for no other reason than to prevent the people from outright revolting against their cash cow war.

    If we are to address the issue of Blackwater It would be more productive to direct our energy towards preventing their use in the first place rather than worrying about what they will do when they come home. There are 75% as many mercs in Iraq as regular army and marine soldiers. There are more civilian contrators in Iraq (apprx. 190,000 to 160,000) than military personnel. We are supposed to be fighting an insurgency and terrorists and controlling a civil war. The amount of money we are spending for all those mercs would provide enough regular military personnel on the ground to accomplish those things. And these would be forces over which we had control. They would be answerable to military law. That is the issue I have regarding Blackwater. It isn’t Blackwater itself that is the problem, but those who create the condition for their use. I don’t blame Blackwater or the mercs they hire. I blame Bushco and I do not want to see another president that will continue to abuse our military and the taxpayers with their presence in Iraq or Naw’lins or any place else that is the Military or National Guard’s responsibility.

  9. bryan mcclellan

    What is all this talk about what to do with these people when they get home?Mercenaries cannot profess to be citizens of any nation due to the nature of their occupation. They sell themselves to the highest bidder and in doing so renounce any national ties.Any and all should be exiled to wander the earth bereft of a home for prostituting themselves.They are not to be trusted to hold our interests on a par with theirs.Let them hunt rats in china,but don’t let them back in the U.S.

  10. Hal Brown

    Gerald,

    Mercenaries at home: Adam posed the same question above about what Blackwater mercenaries will do when they come back home, and I tried addressing this, albeit somewhat with tongue in cheek…

    it is both a serious question, becaused these people will need jobs, and one to which it is difficult to resist giving a snarky answer.

    Snarky: For example, perhaps we could look to the witness protection program for pointers on how they help hit men who have to go into the program and then get “normal jobs” after testifying against their organized crime bosses.

    It can’t be easy when your previous job was killing people to adjust to a 9-5 grind in, say an office, where your colleagues get alarmed if a mouse runs across the room. Hell, the Blackwater guy might pull out his Glock and blow the mouse away.

  11. Gerald Sutliff

    Thanks Hal; campaigning via venues such as “Blue” is counter-productive because it’s rude.
    Regarding Blackwater and the other mercenaries companies: bad they may be but what are we going to do with them when we bring them home? They’ll be hungry for more work; I’ll bet that there’s lobbyists already busy trying to get them some “job security”.

  12. Hal Brown

    Comments on topic please.

    Those who have posted about election politics, all of whom are regular and respected CHB posters, as valid and interesting as their points are, take this response thread off the topic of Blackwater.

    Many readers go back to initial columns every time they see there have been new comments to read what you and others have had to say about the subject.

    So I ask each of you to restrain your political muse when inclined to go off topic.

    Thanks,
    Hal

  13. SEAL

    Klaus: I cannot understand your thinking about the primaries and the general elections. You say you will not support Clinton and then state that you are supporting her by taking away support from the only person that has a chance of preventing her from becoming the Democrat candidate for president by voting for a person that will, at best, receive only 4-8% of the primary votes.

    You and many others are going to cast your votes in the primaries in a way that will fragment the opposition to Clinton, thereby insuring that she will win. Clinton can wind up winning a state’s convention ballots with only 30some percent of the primary votes because Obama will receive about 23%, Edwards 14% and each of the others 2-8%.

    In the first place, I find it ludicrous that a candidate is selected by a system that clearly establishes that they are not the choice of the majority but preferred by only 30-40% of the voters. However, this is the system we have to deal with. The point of this particular campaign is to “defeat” the undesirable candidate – Clinton. This can only be accomplished by all those that are opposed to her casting their votes for one other person, in this case, Obama who already has the second most locked in support.

    The primary selection is not about “feel good” or wishful voting. It is about winning or losing. Those who cast their primary votes for the also rans will lose and cause all the others to lose. If we had a situation where the difference between the frontrunners was insignificant it would make little difference who won but this time it is paramount to the very survival of this nation and its people that we prevent a continuation of the Bush/Clinton dynasty rule of government. Every qualified individual that has spoken out has presented the facts that unless we drastically alter our present course, the United States will cease to be the America we all think it is, was, and should be. It will simply become another “empire” that destroyed itself for the same reason all others have failed.

    Not organizing to support the only candidate that can prevent more of the same is what will deprive America its chance to survive. None of us can possibly know if Obama is the right man for the job of turning this nation around and starting it on the path to recovery. He says he is and is making a fairly decent case for that. But we do know, for certain, that if we do not support him sufficiently to prevent Clinton becoming the next corporate front man we will only continue down the road to failure. One more term of 4-8 years is all it will take.

    No one is more in favor of a third and even a forth party than I am. But we don’t have one and attempting to make a 2% statement that will only be ignored at the present time is useless and counter productive to the present crisis. The reality is that all those who cast their primarry votes for the also rans will be the ones responsible for what happens now just as those who cast their general election votes for Ralph Nader instead of Gore are responsible for our being in the present condition. Please consider the “effect” of your voting and disregard your personal preferences. The name of the game is “defeat Hillary Clinton.”

  14. Hal Brown

    Unemployed mercenaries seek jobs…

    what a good question Adam. Under the Demoractic president, I assume many if not most will be pink slipped.

    I can’t see these action junkies accepting boring comparatively low paid jobs in Homeland Security, most of which thankfully don’t require carrying AK47s or M16s on a daily basis, and being able to blow away people who annoy you without remorse and with impunity.

    Can you imagine them with their eyes glazing over making little old ladies take off their shoes for airport screening?

    Few are FBI material, as their agents generally need a college degree and a job skills beyond shooting holes in human targets.

    The CIA needs people with smarts too, but may look at some for the black ops units, but mostly they seem to be into high tech warfare these days with predator drones.

    I can’t imagine local police departments risking hiring former merecenaries especially when there are so many returning troops who will be looking for jobs in law enforcement.

    The only jobs they are really qualified for may be working for al Qaeda, Columbian drug lords, and other criminal enterprises. Who knows, a few hard core bigots may find a home in white supremacist organizations, be revered, and rise quickly to leadership positions.

    I predict at least one of them will run for the House of Representatives in a red state and may even win.

  15. SEAL

    There are many questions that are obvious to me but I have never seen asked anywhere. Such as:

    By what authority does any civilian, foreign or otherwise, assault an Iraqi citizen? Who or what authority grants Blackwater employees the “right” to physically strike or use deadly force upon anyone in Iraq as a normal part of their duties?

    There has to be a chain of responsibility for the conduct of Blackwater employees in Iraq just the same as there is anywhere they might be. Those Blackwater security guards did not shoot and kill 11 Iraqis unless they has been told by their employer they had the “right” do that. But who gave the Blackwater company the authority?

    As I understand it, Blackwater is hired by our State Department. Iraq is not a subject of the United States – they are a soverign nation. If that is true, then only Iraq could give Blackwater the authority to use deadly or any other type of force as a normal part of their duties. Have they done that? I doubt it.

    Everyone is liable for their actions. Who bears the ultimate liability? Right now they are investigating to establish whether the killings were justified. But, unless Iraq has granted Blackwater employees the authority to kill as a condition of their duties, the only justification would be self defense, imminent fear of their own lives, not for the protection of others as they maintain.

    Another question: does the immunity extend to civil level damages? Civil is personal rather than official responsibility. (see O.J.) Can they be sued for wrongful death? If so, who would be the defendants? Who bears the ultimate responsibility? Our State Department hired them. What court has jurisdiction?

    Lots of questions and no answers. Like everything else with this gang in Washington. Their secet to success is to never fix or solve anything. As long as it’s screwed up they must “stay the course.”

  16. SEAL

    Nailing down how many Blackwater personnel are in Iraq is next to impossible. Estimates vary widely from 20,000 to 120,000. My guess (I’d bet real money it’s close) is just over 90,000. There are 4 other security contractors in Iraq. Their total should be around 30,000. That’s a pretty good sized private army. Especially, one that’s immune from accountability for any wrongful acts.

    Note that, since there are a reported 190,000 total contractors in Iraq, that means there are more security personnel than those supposedly rebuilding the infastructure or filling some “official” government create a false reality paper pushing job by better than 3 to 1. They must have a small army around Ambassador Crock whatever.

    To my knowledge no one has ever been given anything like this before. Even the soldier is subject to military law in war time. I have to wonder at the Iraqi reasoning that created such a thing. Or did Bushco just slip it by the Iraq government? It certainly speaks to the dangerous instability of the country to need that many protectors for so few. However, they provide no protection for Iraqi officials. Perhaps that explains why so many of them have been “bumped off.”

    I can understand why Cheney et. al. would want to have a 100,000 or so armed to the teeth killers loose in the country free to do as they pleased. But who in the Iraq government would approve such a thing and why? It was a resolution, meaning that many Iraqi officials had to approve it or vote to make it law. How could they not know what they were creating? The whole thing just makes no sense to me. Something like this doesn’t come about for no reason.

  17. Sandra Price

    Hal, the Republicans are all for it. There is no oversight in the Congress and many are simply asleep watching for funding for themselves.

    I cannot understand why a third party is not growing among Americans who are tired of this over inflated White House and Congress. Where’s common sense? How can we get this message that our nation is broken? We are still running around in circles gathering more labels and less action to fix anything.

    I mentioned the possibility of a radio broadcast among our readers and ranters as many people I know spend many hours driving to and from everywhere and often turn to idiots like Rush on the radio. Can you imagine a radio show running for a couple of hours a day with Doug presenting our points of view and callers adding their own? It could be streamed from here!

  18. Hal Brown

    Kent,

    Your point needs to be heard loud and clear by the American public.

    In all other wars virtually all of the jobs being done by contractors and being paid for at a huge premium by our tax dollars were done by soldiers who were drafted.

    If we counted all the contractors doing these military jobs (remember in other wars everyone from a potato peeler to a latrine digger was a soldier), added them to actual U.S. troop numbers, the total would be more like the 400,000 you refer to.

    The only way we could have these numbers would be with a draft.

    So the Bush administration manages to have it both ways. They feed their fat-cat corporate sponsors with obscene, poorly monitored, non-bid federal contracts, and they avoid the gigantic backlash instituting a draft would cause.

    Sandy,

    As for Blackwater in New Orleans, this is what Jeremy Scahill has to say in The Nation about them there..

    His article begins:

    The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces “join[ing] the hurricane relief effort.” But its men on the ground told a different story. >> CONTINUED.

  19. Sandra Price

    I took a quick phone call last night and hung up just so watch Countdown. I must have missed him. I did see his interview on BookNotes on CSPAN where he told of running into the Blackwater troops in New York where they were hired by Homeland Security to to take crime off the streets. Not by the New York Authorities by by the Governor of Louisiana. This is an army out of control.

    This might be the straw to take Bush/Cheney down. His followers will always justify his actions which is taking down the GOP. It removes the balance that I personally want in D.C. But first we have to remove the corruption in the current Administration and hope Hillary uses her brains and does not follow Bush’s law breaking tricks. If she does, the Conservatives have no ground to stand on going after her.

    The Blackwater investigation on arms smuggling is a top story at Yahoo. I’m leaving early in the morning and won’t be back until the first of October so keep going on this and I will check in when I get home. I will be able to read into RR from my daugher’s computer to see how things are going there. I don’t mind being banned but I need to read in to know what is going on. This is still the best discussion group on the internet. Maybe Doug will change his mind in October.