Monday, September 03, 2007

Blackwater - unregulated mercenary armies deployed by the U.S. government on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi and American cities

Blackwater Iraq shooting: US judge dismisses all charges
A US judge has dismissed all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged over the killing of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007
31 Dec 2009
The five workers, contracted to defend US diplomatic personnel, were accused of opening fire in a crowded square in Baghdad.
But US District Judge Ricardo Urbina said on Thursday that the US Justice Department had overstepped its bounds and wrongly used evidence it was not allowed to see.
He said the government's explanations have been contradictory and unbelievable.
Blackwater contractors were hired to guard State Department diplomats in Iraq. Prosecutors said the guards fired on unarmed civilians in Nisoor Square in 2007, killing innocent people.
The judge's ruling does not say whether the shooting was proper, only that prosecutors improperly used evidence to build their case. After the shooting, the guards gave statements to State Department investigators. Investigators promised the men that their statements were only to be used for the internal inquiry and would not be used in a criminal case. Such limited immunity deals are common in police departments so officers involved in shootings cannot hold up internal investigations by refusing to cooperate.
The five had all pleaded non guilty to manslaughter. A sixth guard admitted killing at least one Iraqi.
Lawyers for the five guards said they had been acting in self-defence, but witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked.
Blackwater Founder Implicated in MurderBy Jeremy Scahill
August 4, 2009
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. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."
In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.
These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.
The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2," is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."
In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears "violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.
"Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds," states Doe #2. "On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed."
The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.
"It's a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters," John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney's office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. "It would be a crime if we did that." Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: "We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual."
The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, "Unfortunately no one can help you in that area." The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation's request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.
Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.
The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe":
To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."
Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."
Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.
This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News's Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a "federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.
Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"
Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men." He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money."
Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or "seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.
Doe #1 also alleges that "all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded," but that "Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a 'hot wash.' Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred." Blackwater, he says, "did not provide the video to the State Department."
Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince "made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis." Specifically, he alleges that Prince "obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis."
Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, "Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes."
"For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes." He added: "Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will."
Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, "If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians." Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.
"Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn't exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated," Kucinich said.
A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.
F.B.I. Says Guards Killed 14 Iraqis Without Cause:
By David Johnston and John M. Broder
Published: November 14, 2007

Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.
The F.B.I. investigation into the shootings in Baghdad is still under way, but the findings, which indicate that the company’s employees recklessly used lethal force, are already under review by the Justice Department.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.

U.S. promised Blackwater guards immunity, officials say
October 29, 2007
From Terry Frieden, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- State Department investigators promised Blackwater guards immunity from prosecution for last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to officials familiar with the matter.
That could potentially complicate any attempt to bring criminal charges in the case, the officials said.
The Justice Department and FBI refused comment on the investigation, which the State Department announced in early October. Blackwater also declined comment.
"They were told their statements can't be used against them," said one U.S. government official. "But this doesn't necessarily mean charges can never be brought against these guys."
A second official called the limited immunity "surprising and confusing" and questioned the authority of the State Department's diplomatic security investigators to unilaterally make immunity decisions.
"I can understand there would be a lot of very unhappy people," said a third official, an experienced investigator who said decisions are not usually made without consultation with federal prosecutors.
All the officials refused to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on this sensitive issue.

An FBI team has been in Baghdad investigating the September 16 killings by security contractors hired by the State Department to protect American diplomats in Baghdad.
Security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq.
North Carolina-based contractor Blackwater USA says its guards came under fire while protecting a State Department convoy and acted properly in self-defense. Iraqi authorities have called the killings "premeditated murder."
The State Department had no official comment. But one senior State Department official said it is unclear what transpired, "but whatever it was, it was not something that was sanctioned by the senior management of the State Department."
Witnesses testify in Blackwater lawsuit;_ylt=AvGkSfp9IQSKryl6l3PTjMis0NUE
By Lara Jakes Jordan, Associated Press Writer Tue Nov 27, 6:48 PM ET
WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor's bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other "judgment altering substances."
A Blackwater spokeswoman said Tuesday its employees are banned from using steroids or other enhancement drugs but declined to comment on the other charges detailed in the 18-page lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of five Iraqis who were killed and two who were injured during the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The shootings enraged the Iraqi government, and the Justice Department is investigating whether it can bring criminal charges in the case, even though the State Department promised limited immunity to the Blackwater guards.
Justice Department national security prosecutors Kenneth Kohl and Stephen Ponticiello, both of whom are handling the Blackwater case, spent much of Tuesday afternoon in the grand jury room, which is off limits to the public. Two witnesses also spent hours behind closed doors in the District of Columbia's federal courthouse. One of them emerged sporadically to speak with an attorney, who refused to identify himself, his law firm or his client.
When the grand jury was dismissed for the day, the men left without commenting, as did Kohl.
Before the shootings in Baghdad last September, the three teams of an estimated dozen Blackwater bodyguards had already dropped off the State Department official they were tasked with protecting when they headed to Nisoor Square, according to the lawsuit filed by lawyers working with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Blackwater and State Department personnel staffing a tactical operations center "expressly directed the Blackwater shooters to stay with the official and refrain from leaving the secure area," the complaint says. "Reasonable discovery will establish that the Blackwater shooters ignored those directives."
Additionally, the lawsuit notes: "One of Blackwater's own shooters tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing upon the crowd of innocent civilians but he was unsuccessful in his efforts."
The civil complaint offers new details of the incident that has strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.
The Justice Department says it likely will be months before it decides whether it can prosecute the guards, and it is trying now to pinpoint how many shooters in the Blackwater convoy could face charges. A senior U.S. law enforcement official confirmed Tuesday that government investigators are looking at whether the Blackwater guards were authorized to be in the square at the time of the shooting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
In an interview, lead plaintiff attorney Susan L. Burke said private investigators turned up the new evidence through interviews with people in Iraq and the United States "who would have reason to know." Those people do not include government officials, Burke said, and she declined to comment when asked if they include Blackwater employees.
The civil lawsuit does not specify how much money the victims and their families are seeking from Blackwater, its 11 subsidiaries and founder, Erik Prince, all of whom are named as defendants.
"We're looking for compensatory (damages) because the people who were killed were the breadwinners in their families," Burke said. "And we're looking for punitive in a manner that suffices to change the corporation's conduct. We have a real interest in holding them accountable for what were completely avoidable deaths."
The lawsuit also accuses Blackwater of routinely sending its guards into Baghdad despite knowing that at least 25 percent of them were using steroids or other "judgment-altering substances." Attorneys estimated that Blackwater employs about 600 guards in Iraq. The company "did not conduct drug-testing of any of its shooters before sending them equipped with heavy weapons into the streets of Baghdad," the lawsuit states.
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Blackwater employees are tested for drug use before they are hired and later given random quarterly tests. She said use of steroids and other performance enhancement drugs "are absolutely in violation of our policy."
"Blackwater has very strict policies concerning drug use, and if anyone were known to be in violation of them they would be immediately fired," Tyrrell said.
She declined comment on whether the bodyguards ignored their orders and abandoned their posts, or on other details outlined in the lawsuit.
Blackwater's contract with the State Department to protect diplomats in Iraq expires in May, and there are questions whether it will remain as the primary contractor for diplomatic bodyguards. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said his Cabinet is drafting legislation that would force the State Department to replace Blackwater with another security company.
The State Department declined to comment on the case Tuesday, citing standard policy on pending legal matters. Deputy spokesman Tom Casey referred questions on the matter "to those involved in the lawsuit."
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.

Officials balked on 2005 Blackwater inquiry:

By T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,0,798301.story?coll=la-home-center

Even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended her department's oversight of private security contractors, new evidence surfaced Thursday that the U.S. sought to conceal details of Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.
In one instance, internal e-mails show that State Department officials tried to deflect a 2005 Los Angeles Times inquiry into an alleged killing of an Iraqi civilian by Blackwater guards.

U.S. private security officers are shown in 2003 in a Chinook helicopter that was guarding L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's U.S. civilian administrator at the time, as he ventured near the city of Basra. Tens of thousands of such employees operate in the war-torn country. Today, the Interior Ministry canceled the license of the American security firm Blackwater USA after officials charged that eight civilians were shot and killed Sunday by company bodyguards accompanying a U.S. State Department motorcade. American officials are launching an investigation in conjunction with Iraq, a spokeswoman said.
(Karel Prinsloo / AP)

State Dept. ignored Blackwater warnings:
Diplomats had raised concerns about guards' endangering of Iraqi civilians, but the complaints got little attention.,1,4463745.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack=1&cset=true
Ever since the contractors were granted immunity from Iraqi courts in June 2004 by the U.S.-led occupation authority, diplomats have cautioned that the decision to do so was "a bomb that could go off at any time," said one former U.S. official.
But State Department leadership, unable to field U.S. troops or in-house personnel to guard its team, has clung to an approach that shielded the contractors from criminal liability, in the hope of ensuring continued protection to operate in the violent countryside.
The procedures have come under critical scrutiny since a Sept. 16 shooting involving contractors for Blackwater USA, the State Department's main security contractor, killed at least 11 Iraqis and set off a series of American and Iraqi investigations.

Hired Gun Fetish
As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force, as is the case in Iraq

by Paul Krugman
September 28, 2007

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, “the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.”

And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.

We may never know what really happened in a crowded Baghdad square two weeks ago. Employees of Blackwater USA claim that they were attacked by gunmen. Iraqi police and witnesses say that the contractors began firing randomly at a car that didn’t get out of their way.

What we do know is that more than 20 civilians were killed, including the couple and child in the car. And the Iraqi version of events is entirely consistent with many other documented incidents involving security contractors.

Iraq expels American security firm: by Robert H. Reid, Associated Press Writer. The Iraqi government announced Monday it was ordering Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, to leave the country after what it said was the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.
Blackwater 'may be worse than Abu Ghraib': September 26th, 2007
By: Steve Benen @ 5:17 AM - PDT

To describe the ongoing Blackwater scandal as a fiasco would be a dramatic understatement. Not only do we have a situation in which private security contractors stand accused of killing Iraqi civilians without provocation, we also have deep divisions brewing between the Pentagon and the State Department, coupled by State stonewalling a congressional investigation.
A confrontation between the U.S. military and the State Department is unfolding over the involvement of Blackwater USA in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square Sept. 16, bringing to the surface long-simmering tensions between the military and private security companies in Iraq, according to U.S. military and government officials. […]
“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.”
At this point, the State Department seems to be treating Blackwater contractors as the agency’s own private army, accountable to no one outside the department. The Maliki government believes Blackwater is a criminal enterprise, the Iraqi people resent Blackwater’s presence, the Pentagon believes Blackwater is lying about the Sept. 16 incident in Nisoor Square, and congressional Democrats have questions about what has transpired — which the State Department refuses to answer.
This is a debacle so severe and humiliating, only the Bush administration could pull it off.David Kurtz offers this helpful timeline of events that sets the stage for where we are now.
Filed Under: Blackwater
The Mercenary Revolution: Flush with Profits from the Iraq War, Military Contractors See a World of Business Opportunitiesby Jeremy Scahill
Originally published by The Indypendent newspaper
Published on Monday, August 13, 2007 by
If you think the U.S. has only 160,000 troops in Iraq, think again.
With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation through the use of private war companies.
There are now almost 200,000 private "contractors" deployed in Iraq by Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored and whose crimes are virtually unpunished.
In essence, the Bush administration has created a shadow army that can be used to wage wars unpopular with the American public but extremely profitable for a few unaccountable private companies.
Since the launch of the "global war on terror," the administration has systematically funneled billions of dollars in public money to corporations like Blackwater USA , DynCorp, Triple Canopy, Erinys and ArmorGroup. They have in turn used their lucrative government pay-outs to build up the infrastructure and reach of private armies so powerful that they rival or outgun some nation's militaries.
"I think it's extraordinarily dangerous when a nation begins to outsource its monopoly on the use of force and the use of violence in support of its foreign policy or national security objectives," says veteran U.S . Diplomat Joe Wilson, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to Iraq before the 1991 Gulf War.
The billions of dollars being doled out to these companies, Wilson argues, "makes of them a very powerful interest group within the American body politic and an interest group that is in fact armed. And the question will arise at some time: to whom do they owe their loyalty?"
Precise data on the extent of U.S. spending on mercenary services is nearly impossible toobtain - by both journalists and elected officials-but some in Congress estimate that up to 40 cents of every tax dollar spent on the war goes to corporate war contractors. At present, the United States spends about $2 billion a week on its Iraq operations.
While much has been made of the Bush administration's "failure" to build international consensus for the invasion of Iraq, perhaps that was never the intention. When U.S. tanks rolled into Iraq in March 2003, they brought with them the largest army of "private contractors" ever deployed in a war. The White House substituted international diplomacy with lucrative war contracts and a coalition of willing nations who provided token forces with a coalition of billing corporations that supplied the brigades of contractors.
'THERE'S NO DEMOCRATIC CONTROL'During the 1991 Gulf War, the ratio of troops to private contractors was about 60 to 1. Today, it is the contractors who outnumber U.S . forces in Iraq. As of July 2007, there were more than 630 war contracting companies working in Iraq for the United States. Composed of some 180,000 individual personnel drawn from more than 100 countries, the army of contractors surpasses the official U.S. military presence of 160,000 troops.
In all, the United States may have as many as 400,000 personnel occupying Iraq, not including allied nations' militaries. The statistics on contractors do not account for all armed contractors. Last year, a U.S. government report estimated there were 48,000 people working for more than 170 private military companies in Iraq. "It masks the true level of American involvement," says Ambassador Wilson.
How much money is being spent just on mercenaries remains largely classified. Congressional sources estimate the United States has spent at least $6 billion in Iraq, while Britain has spent some $400 million. At the same time, companies chosen by the White House for rebuilding projects in Iraq have spent huge sums in reconstruction funds - possibly billions on more mercenaries to guard their personnel and projects.
The single largest U.S. contract for private security in Iraq was a $293 million payment to the British firm Aegis Defence Services, headed by retired British Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, who has been dogged by accusations that he is a mercenary because of his private involvement in African conflicts. The Texas-based DynCorp International has been another big winner, with more than $1 billion in contracts to provide personnel to train Iraqi police forces, while Blackwater USA has won $750 million in State Department contracts alone for "diplomatic security."
At present, an American or a British Special Forces veteran working for a private security company in Iraq can make $650 a day. At times the rate has reached $1,000 a day; the pay dwarfs many times over that of active duty troops operating in the war zone wearing a U.S. or U.K. flag on their shoulder instead of a corporate logo.
"We got [tens of thousands of] contractors over there, some of them making more than the Secretary of Defense," House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-Penn.) recently remarked. "How in the hell do you justify that?" In part, these contractors do mundane jobs that traditionally have been performed by soldiers. Some require no military training, but involve deadly occupations, such as driving trucks through insurgent-controlled territory.
Others are more innocuous, like cooking food or doing laundry on a base, but still court grave risk because of regular mortar and rocket attacks.
These services are provided through companies like KBR and Fluor and through their vast labyrinth of subcontractors. But many other private personnel are also engaged in armed combat and "security" operations. They interrogate prisoners, gather intelligence, operate rendition flights, protect senior occupation officials and, in at least one case, have commanded U.S. and international troops in battle.
In a revealing admission, Gen. David Petraeus, who is overseeing Bush's troop "surge," said earlier this year that he has, at times, been guarded in Iraq by "contract security." At least three U.S. commanding generals, not including Petraeus, are currently being guarded in Iraq by hired guns. "To have half of your army be contractors, I don't know that there's a precedent for that," says Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating war contractors.
"Maybe the precedent was the British and the Hessians in the American Revolution. Maybe that's the last time and needless to say, they lost. But I'm thinking that there's no democratic control and there's no intention to have democratic control here."
The implications are devastating. Joseph Wilson says, "In the absence of international consensus, the current Bush administration relied on a coalition of what I call the co-opted, the corrupted and the coerced: those who benefited financially from their involvement, those who benefited politically from their involvement and those few who determined that their relationship with the United States was more important than their relationship with anybody else. And that's a real problem because there is no underlying international legitimacy that sustains us throughout this action that we've taken."
Moreover, this revolution means the United States no longer needs to rely on its own citizens to fight its wars, nor does it need to implement a draft, which would have made the Iraq war politically untenable.
'AN ARM OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'During his confirmation hearings in the Senate this past January, Petraeus praised the role of private forces, claiming they compensate for an overstretched military. Petraeus told the senators that combined with Bush's official troop surge, the "tens of thousands of contract security forces give me the reason to believe that we can accomplish the mission."
Taken together with Petraeus's recent assertion that the surge would run into mid-2009, this means a widening role for mercenaries and other private forces in Iraq is clearly on the table for the foreseeable future.
"The increasing use of contractors, private forces or as some would say 'mercenaries' makes wars easier to begin and to fight - it just takes money and not the citizenry," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, whose organization has sued private contractors for alleged human rights violations in Iraq.
"To the extent a population is called upon to go to war, there is resistance, a necessary resistance to prevent wars of self-aggrandizement, foolish wars and in the case of the United States, hegemonic imperialist wars. Private forces are almost a necessity for a United States bent on retaining its declining empire. Think about Rome and its increasing need for mercenaries."
Privatized forces are also politically expedient for many governments. Their casualties go uncounted, their actions largely unmonitored and their crimes unpunished. Indeed, four years into the occupation, there is no effective system of oversight or accountability governing contractors and their operations, nor is there any effective law - military or civilian being applied to their activities. They have not been subjected to military courts martial (despite a recent congressional attempt to place them under the Uniform Code of Military Justice), nor have they been prosecuted in U.S. civilian courts. And no matter what their acts in Iraq, they cannot be prosecuted in Iraqi courts because in 2004 the U.S. occupying authority granted them complete immunity.
"These private contractors are really an arm of the administration and its policies," argues Kucinich, who has called for a withdrawal of all U.S. contractors from Iraq. "They charge whatever they want with impunity. There's no accountability as to how many people they have, as to what their activities are."
That raises the crucial question: what exactly are they doing in Iraq in the name of the U.S. and U.K. governments? Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leading member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, which is responsible for reviewing sensitive national security issues, explained the difficulty of monitoring private military companies on the U.S. payroll: "If I want to see a contract, I have to go up to a secret room and look at it, can't take any notes, can't take any notes out with me, you know - essentially, I don't have access to those contracts and even if I did, I couldn't tell anybody about it."
'A MARKETPLACE FOR WARFARE'On the Internet, numerous videos have spread virally, showing what appear to be foreign mercenaries using Iraqis as target practice, much to the embarrassment of the firms involved. Despite these incidents and the tens of thousands of contractors passing through Iraq, only two individuals have been ever indicted for crimes there. One was charged with stabbing a fellow contractor, while the other pled guilty to possessing child-pornography images on his computer at Abu Ghraib prison.
Dozens of American soldiers have been court-martialed - 64 on murder-related charges alone - but not a single armed contractor has been prosecuted for a crime against an Iraqi. In some cases, where contractors were alleged to have been involved in crimes or deadly incidents, their companies whisked them out of Iraq to safety.
U.S. contractors in Iraq reportedly have their own motto: "What happens here today, stays here today." International diplomats say Iraq has demonstrated a new U.S. model for waging war; one which poses a creeping threat to global order.
"To outsource security-related, military related issues to non-government, non-military forces is a source of great concern and it caught many governments unprepared," says Hans von Sponeck, a 32-year veteran U.N. diplomat, who served as head of the U.N. Iraq mission before the U.S. invasion.
In Iraq, the United States has used its private sector allies to build up armies of mercenaries many lured from impoverished countries with the promise of greater salaries than their home militaries can pay. That the home governments of some of these private warriors are opposed to the war itself is of little consequence.
"Have gun, will fight for paycheck" has become a globalized law.
"The most worrying aspect is that these forces are outside parliamentary control. They come from all over and they are answerable to no one except a very narrow group of people and they come from countries whose governments may not even know in detail that they have actually been contracted as a private army into a war zone," says von Sponeck.
"If you have now a marketplace for warfare, it is a commercial issue rather than a political issue involving a debate in the countries.
You are also marginalizing governmental control over whether or not this should take place, should happen and, if so, in what size and shape. It's a very worrying new aspect of international relations. I think it becomes more and more uncontrollable by the countries of supply."
In Iraq, for example, hundreds of Chilean mercenaries have been deployed by U.S. companies like Blackwater and Triple Canopy, despite the fact that Chile, as a rotating member of the U.N. Security Council, opposed the invasion and continues to oppose the occupation of Iraq. Some of the Chileans are alleged to have been seasoned veterans of the Pinochet era.
"There is nothing new, of course, about the relationship between politics and the economy, but there is something deeply perverse about the privatization of the Iraq War and the utilization of mercenaries," says Chilean sociologist Tito Tricot, a former political prisoner who was tortured under Pinochet's regime.
"This externalization of services or outsourcing attempts to lower costs - third world mercenaries are paid less than their counterparts from the developed world - and maximize benefits. In other words, let others fight the war for the Americans. In either case, the Iraqi people do not matter at all."
The Iraq war has ushered in a new system. Wealthy nations can recruit the world's poor, from countries that have no direct stake in the conflict, and use them as cannon fodder to conquer weaker nations. This allows the conquering power to hold down domestic casualties - the single-greatest impediment to waging wars like the one in Iraq. Indeed, in Iraq, more than 1,000 contractors working for the U.S. occupation have been killed with another 13,000 wounded. Most are not American citizens, and these numbers are not counted in the official death toll at a time when Americans are increasingly disturbed by casualties.
In Iraq, many companies are run by Americans or Britons and have well-trained forces drawn from elite military units for use in sensitive actions or operations. But down the ranks, these forces are filled by Iraqis and third-country nationals. Indeed, some 118,000 of the estimated 180,000 contractors are Iraqis, and many mercenaries are reportedly ill-paid, poorly equipped and barely trained Iraqi nationals.
The mercenary industry points to this as a positive: we are giving Iraqis jobs, albeit occupying their own country in the service of a private corporation hired by a hostile invading power.
Doug Brooks, the head of the Orwellian named mercenary trade group, the International Peace Operations Association, argued from early on in the occupation, "Museums do not need to be guarded by Abrams tanks when an Iraqi security guard working for a contractor can do the same job for less than one-fiftieth of what it costs to maintain an American soldier. Hiring local guards gives Iraqis a stake in a successful future for their country. They use their pay to support their families and stimulate the economy. Perhaps most significantly, every guard means one less potential guerrilla."
In many ways, it is the same corporate model of relying on cheap labor in destitute nations to staff their uber-profitable operations. The giant multinationals also argue they are helping the economy by hiring locals, even if it's at starvation wages.
"Donald Rumsfeld's masterstroke, and his most enduring legacy, was to bring the corporate branding revolution of the 1990s into the heart of the most powerful military in the world," says Naomi Klein, whose upcoming book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, explores these themes.
"We have now seen the emergence of the hollow army. Much as with so-called hollow corporations like Nike, billions are spent on military technology and design in rich countries while the manual labor and sweat work of invasion and occupation is increasingly outsourced to contractors who compete with each other to fill the work order for the lowest price. Just as this model breeds rampant abuse in the manufacturing sector - with the big-name brands always able to plead ignorance about the actions of their suppliers-so it does in the military, though with stakes that are immeasurably higher." In the case of Iraq, the U.S. and U.K. governments could give the public perception of a withdrawal of forces and just privatize the occupation. Indeed, shortly after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he wanted to withdraw 1,600 soldiers from Basra, reports emerged that the British government was considering sending in private security companies to "fill the gap left behind."
THE SPY WHO BILLED MEWhile Iraq currently dominates the headlines, private war and intelligence companies are expanding their already sizable footprint. The U.S. government in particular is now in the midst of the most radical privatization agenda in its history. According to a recent report in Vanity Fair, the government pays contractors as much as the combined taxes paid by everyone in the United States with incomes under $100,000, meaning "more than 90 percent of all taxpayers might as well remit everything they owe directly to [contractors] rather than to the [government]."
Some of this outsourcing is happening in sensitive sectors, including the intelligence community. "This is the magnet now. Everything is being attracted to these private companies in terms of individuals and expertise and functions that were normally done by the intelligence community," says former CIA division chief and senior analyst Melvin Goodman. "My major concern is the lack of accountability, the lack of responsibility. The entire industry is essentially out of control. It's outrageous."
RJ Hillhouse, a blogger who investigates the clandestine world of private contractors and U.S. intelligence, recently obtained documents from the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) showing that Washington spends some $42 billion annually on private intelligence contractors, up from $17.54 billion in 2000. Currently that spending represents 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget going to private companies.
Perhaps it is no surprise then that the current head of the DNI is Mike McConnell, the former chair of the board of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, the private intelligence industry's lobbying arm. Hillhouse also revealed that one of the most sensitive U.S. intelligence documents, the Presidential Daily Briefing, is prepared in part by private companies, despite having the official seal of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.
"Let's say a company is frustrated with a government that's hampering its business or business of one of its clients. Introducing and spinning intelligence on that government's suspected collaboration with terrorists would quickly get the White House's attention and could be used to shape national policy," Hillhouse argues.
MUTLINATIONAL MERCENARIESEmpowered by their new found prominence, mercenary forces are increasing their presence on other battlefields: in Latin America, DynCorp International is operating in Colombia, Bolivia and other countries under the guise of the "war on drugs" - U.S. defense contractors are receiving nearly half the $630 million in U.S. military aid for Colombia; in Africa, mercenaries are deploying in Somalia, Congo and Sudan and increasingly have their sights set on tapping into the hefty U.N. peacekeeping budget (this has been true since at least the early 1990s and probably much earlier). Heavily armed mercenaries were deployed to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while proposals are being considered to privatize the U.S. border patrol.
Brooks, the private military industry lobbyist, says people should not become "overly obsessed with Iraq," saying his association's "member companies have more personnel working in U.N. and African Union peace operations than all but a handful of countries." Von Sponeck says he believes the use of such companies in warfare should be barred and has harsh words for the institution for which he spent his career working: "The United Nations, including the U.N. Secretary General, should react to this and instead of reacting, they are mute, they are silent."
This unprecedented funding of such enterprises, primarily by the U.S. and U.K. governments, means that powers once the exclusive realm of nations are now in the hands of private companies with loyalty only to profits, CEOs and, in the case of public companies, shareholders. And, of course, their client, whoever that may be. CIA-type services, special operations, covert actions and small-scale military and paramilitary forces are now on the world market in a way not seen in modern history. This could allow corporations or nations with cash to spend but no real military power to hire squadrons of heavily armed and well-trained commandos.
"It raises very important issues about state and about the very power of state. The one thing the people think of as being in the purview of the government - wholly run and owned by - is the use of military power," says Rep. Jan Schakowsky. "Suddenly you've got a for-profit corporation going around the world that is more powerful than states, can effect regime possibly where they may want to go, that seems to have all the support that it needs from this administration that is also pretty adventurous around the world and operating under the cover of darkness.
"It raises questions about democracies, about states, about who influences policy around the globe, about relationships among some countries. Maybe it's their goal to render state coalitions like NATO irrelevant in the future, that they'll be the ones and open to the highest bidder. Who really does determine war and peace around the world?"
Romney silent on Blackwater shooting by Kenneth P. Vogel:
Mitt Romney has remained mum on the alleged killing of 11 Iraqis by a company where one of his top advisers serves as vice chairman, even as the case has led to an uproar in Baghdad and Washington. Barack Obama, John McCain and other politicians have raised the possibility of tighter controls on the firm.
The top counterterrorism and national security adviser to Romney’s presidential campaign is Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater USA.
The Iraqis died after guards employed by the private security firm opened fire following an alleged attack on a State Department convoy under their protection. Blackwater has a lucrative contract to guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
America’s Holy Warriors: By Chris Hedges
The drive by the Christian right to take control of military chaplaincies, which now sees radical Christians holding roughly 50 percent of chaplaincy appointments in the armed services and service academies, is part of a much larger effort to politicize the military and law enforcement. This effort signals the final and perhaps most deadly stage in the long campaign by the radical Christian right to dismantle America’s open society and build a theocratic state. A successful politicization of the military would signal the end of our democracy.
Protest Grows over Blackwater U.S.A Training Camp:
POTRERO, Calif. - With its isolation and rustic ambience, this sparsely populated hamlet in eastern San Diego County offers the privacy and quiet its residents crave.”It’s perfect: nobody here but us rural souls,” Will Lee said as he headed to the Potrero General Store.
But Lee’s solitude and sense of being far from the crowd may soon be ruffled.
Blackwater USA, a security company that supplies hundreds of armed civilian personnel for duties in Iraq, is seeking to build a 220-acre training camp on an 800-acre parcel that now is dedicated to egg farming and cattle ranching.
Blackwater officials say they would like to use the land to train personnel for duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else the Department of Defense needs help. Plans include firing ranges, a helicopter pad, a mock “combat town,” a track for high-speed driving classes, classrooms, an armory, a bunkhouse and some administrative buildings.

Blackwater is a private army for hire:
In 1997, Erik Prince founded Blackwater, expanding the family's Christian conservative empire into private security and war for hire. Erik is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and son of the late billionaire automotive parts supplier, Edgar Prince.

Blackwater: The Extreme-Right Mega-Millionaire Mercenary:
Since the U.S.'s invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan, many American lives have changed. So many lives lost in a fight that is viewed by most of the country and world as unjust. So many families shattered, so many bright futures tragically cut short.
For one man, the War of Bush/Cheney/Haliburton Oil was his golden ticket to massive wealth and an extraordinary level of influence and menacing power. Meet Erik Prince, born and raised in Holland, Michigan, and one of the country's most dangerous men.

Blackwater Employee and Applicant Resource System (BEARS):
Blackwater USA - Applicant Questionnaire:

The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out. (Chinese proverb)
************For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. (Sun Tzu)

The arrogant army will lose certainly the battle. (Chinese proverb)


We the People Radio Network - What You Should Know About Blackwater: A collection of videos from YouTube and Google Video plus several articles about Blackwater.
U.S. Turns to Mercenaries: The four "civilians" killed, burned, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, on Wednesday morning weren’t really civilians. Or were they? They were employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a rural North Carolina subsidiary of Blackwater USA, one of several dozen firms taking over the duties of the regular American military in Iraq, protecting buildings and grounds as well as officials.
Building up a surrogate military force, along the lines of the French Foreign Legion or the Gurkhas, has been the ambition of conservatives for many years. The thinking is that future wars will be characterized by "low-intensity," or guerrilla, warfare. If the fighting is done by a force of irregular surrogates, people won't question their casualties as they would those of regular military personnel.
Warriors for Hire - Blackwater USA
and the rise of private military contractors. by Mark Hemingway For obvious reasons, the location of the headquarters of Blackwater USA isn't well-publicized. Officially, the only public trace of the world's largest private military training facility is a post office box in Moyock, North Carolina, an unremarkable rib-shack pit-stop on the way to the Outer Banks. Though the company is less than ten years old, it's already become the alpha and omega of military outsourcing.
Mercenary Jackpot: While the Bush Administration calls for the immediate disbanding of what it has labeled "private" and "illegal" militias in Lebanon and Iraq, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its own global private mercenary army tasked with protecting US officials and institutions overseas. The secretive program, which spans at least twenty-seven countries, has been an incredible jackpot for one heavily Republican-connected firm in particular: Blackwater
Warriors for Hire in Iraq: While Congress and the senior leadership at the Pentagon do not have an exact handle on the numbers, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 private military personnel are in Iraq. They are carrying out essential jobs that soldiers have done in the past—from handling logistics and maintenance to training the local army to fighting pitched battles—and they have taken more casualties than any ally. However, while performing tasks crucial to the operation, they are not formally part of the force, creating a critical disconnect in such areas as intelligence sharing, as well as confusion over rights and responsibilities in the midst of combat.
Although the firm started out employing ex-American military, primarily from the Special Forces, growing demand has led it to look to other and often cheaper labor sources. The firm reports that 30 percent of its current personnel do not have military training, usually being former policemen. In February, it hired some 60 former Chilean soldiers from the Red Tactica firm, offering them contracts worth around $4,000 a month to guard oil facilities in Iraq from insurgent attack. Concerns were raised that many of them had a history with the Pinochet regime. Michelle Bachelet, Chile's defense minister, questioned "whether paramilitary training by Blackwater violated Chilean laws on the use of weapons by private citizens" and ordered an investigation. Jackson responded, "We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals—the Chilean commandos are very, very professional."

Bush's Shadow Army
by Jeremy Scahill
  • September 10, 2001, before most Americans had heard of Al Qaeda or imagined the possibility of a "war on terror," Donald Rumsfeld stepped to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush. Standing before the former corporate executives he had tapped as his top deputies overseeing the high-stakes business of military contracting--many of them from firms like Enron, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation--Rumsfeld issued a declaration of war.
  • "The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America," Rumsfeld thundered. "It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk." He told his new staff, "You may think I'm describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world.... [But] the adversary's closer to home," he said. "It's the Pentagon bureaucracy." Rumsfeld called for a wholesale shift in the running of the Pentagon, supplanting the old DoD bureaucracy with a new model, one based on the private sector. Announcing this major overhaul, Rumsfeld told his audience, "I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself."
  • The next morning, the Pentagon would be attacked, literally, as a Boeing 757--American Airlines Flight 77--smashed into its western wall. Rumsfeld would famously assist rescue workers in pulling bodies from the rubble. But it didn't take long for Rumsfeld to seize the almost unthinkable opportunity presented by 9/11 to put his personal war--laid out just a day before--on the fast track. The new Pentagon policy would emphasize covert actions, sophisticated weapons systems and greater reliance on private contractors. It became known as the Rumsfeld Doctrine. "We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach: one that encourages people to be proactive, not reactive, and to behave less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists," Rumsfeld wrote in the summer of 2002 in an article for Foreign Affairs titled "Transforming the Military."
  • Although Rumsfeld was later thrown overboard by the Administration in an attempt to placate critics of the Iraq War, his military revolution was here to stay. Bidding farewell to Rumsfeld in November 2006, Bush credited him with overseeing the "most sweeping transformation of America's global force posture since the end of World War II." Indeed, Rumsfeld's trademark "small footprint" approach ushered in one of the most significant developments in modern warfare--the widespread use of private contractors in every aspect of war, including in combat.
(Read the article for more content.)

Private Mercenary Armies: A Looming Threat to Freedom
14 August 2007 by Cliff Carson:
Since the arrival of the Bush Administration an evil has crept upon us and we hardly noticed. But it's here now and we are going to have to deal with it. It's the new Big Business - the Mercenary Army, or if you prefer the Corporate Army for hire.
There is an incestuous relationship between the Bush Administration and these Corporate Armies (Halliburton, Blackwater, KBR, and DynaCorp, come immediately to mind among the thousand or so now ongoing), and they have become one of the strongest forces in the world. This is Big Business beholden to their Company bottom line- not the interests of the United States. They are able to act in secret outside the law of the land, and with the Bush Administration bent on ignoring Constitutional law, the danger to American freedoms is serious. And, these Corporate Armies now have their sights set on deploying troops and equipment to act as a military police force to operate within the United States. They were present in New Orleans after Katrina, and are expanding rapidly from North Carolina to California.

Blackwater Mercenaries Deploy in New Orleans:
By Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo:

New Orleans - Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force. Several mercenaries we spoke with said they had served in Iraq on the personal security details of the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer and the former US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte.
"This is a totally new thing to have guys like us working CONUS (Continental United States)," a heavily armed Blackwater mercenary told us as we stood on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. "We're much better equipped to deal with the situation in Iraq."
Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago.
What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments.


Why The Head Of DynCorp Trash-Talking Blackwater Makes Me, Oh, Just A Tad Nervous

Hotheads armed to the teeth
Who are trigger-happy and rich
Walking around shouting,

"You want a piece of me, bitch?"

by Tony Peyser