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Archive for the ‘Blackwater’ Category

Wow, Whouda Thunk It?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 27, 2009

The Pentagon is finally allowed to say out loud what we’ve all known for years: Actual soldiers and actual bureaucrats do the job better and cheaper than do mercenaries — erm, “security contractors”:

The Defense Department estimates it will save an average of $44,000 a year for every contractor it replaces with full-time federal personnel to perform critical defense jobs, according to the House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2010 defense appropriation bill.

The measure, which passed Congress on Saturday, contains $5 billion to hire replacements for contractors currently performing what have been termed “inherently government functions” both at home and abroad. Those functions include a wide range of activities, from supervising other contractors who provide guard services at forward operating bases, to providing oversight of aid projects overseas.

Posted in Blackwater | 3 Comments »

Prince of Darkness/Updated

Posted by Charles II on August 5, 2009

Another “your tax dollars at work” story. Also “another your friendly Republican Party servants of Satan” story. By the next Sy Hersh, Jeremy Scahill (via t/o).

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.”

Our government doesn’t want to stir up unhappy memories by investigating things like this. Just keep moving, folks!

Among the interesting angles:

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.

DemocracyNow did an interview with Jeremy Scahill in which other interesting things trickled out:

AMY GOODMAN: Other allegations in the documents, Prince’s North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, I—you know, I had heard these allegations. I think the first time I heard something of that nature was in 2006. One of—this is something that comes from just one of the individuals, the one identified as John Doe number two. And John Doe number two says that it caused so much trouble at the company that Erik Prince—among the staff, because of the wife-swapping operation—that Erik Prince actually asked one of his senior executives, Joseph Schmitz, to conduct an investigation.

Interestingly, Joseph Schmitz, speaking of the Christian stuff, was—Christian supremacist stuff—was Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon inspector general, was in love with Donald Rumsfeld, while he was supposed to be monitoring his conduct, and then leaves the Pentagon to go work for one of the contractors he was supposed to be overseeing. Joseph Schmitz is a radical, militant, right-wing Catholic, who once wrote a letter to the Washington Times about abortion, referring to himself as a former fetus, and therefore he understands the issue of abortion, because he’s a former fetus. He also is a member of the Knights of Malta and is an avowed Christian supremacist.

Jeremy Scahill: …Obama, in Afghanistan, is expanding the use of these [private mercenary] forces by 29 percent in the second quarter of this year, and it continues to grow. The Washington Post just had—did a big story about how the number of private forces is swelling, as the US troop levels grow in Afghanistan.

Posted in Blackwater, Iraq war, Republicans as cancer | Comments Off on Prince of Darkness/Updated

Thursday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 5, 2009

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— If the Gang of Fourteen Plus Lieberman really hates earmarks as much as they say they do, then how come the effort to strip some from the budget bill just failed?

— Contrast this silly posturing with President Obama’s putting the war profiteers on notice.

— I love Margaret and Helen.

— Oh, and somebody must have threatened to use force of arms to get Turdblossom to show up and testify before Congress.

— Meanwhile, Sasha and Malia can now play on a new swing set while their daddy watches them from his home office.

Posted in 111th Congress, Ben "Lieberman" Nelson, Blackwater, Blue Dogs, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, corruption, hypocrites, Karl Rove, President Obama, priorities | 1 Comment »

About Blackwater’s Name Change

Posted by MEC on February 18, 2009

So Blackwater thinks it can escape its deservedly bad reputation by changing its name to something totally unlike “Blackwater”, specifically to Xe.

There’s a little problem with that.

There’s already a company called XE.

“XE”, “XE.COM”, “UNIVERSAL CURRENCY CONVERTER”, the XE logo, the spinning currency logo, and other identifying marks of XE are and shall remain the trade-marks and trade names and exclusive property of XE CORPORATION, and any unauthorized use of these marks is unlawful.

I’m not an expert on trademark law, but I’m guessing that “Xe” is way too close to “XE” to avoid being a violation of the trademark.

Posted in Blackwater, Republicans acting badly | 3 Comments »

You won’t have Blackwater to kick around any more

Posted by Charles II on February 13, 2009

Mike Baker AP, via Crooks and Liars:

Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.

Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter “z.”

Posted in Blackwater | Comments Off on You won’t have Blackwater to kick around any more

Is Blackwater Bailing Out?

Posted by MEC on July 22, 2008

The Guardian (via Truthout) reports that Blackwater, the notorious security firm founded by Bush crony and Dominionist Erik Prince, is getting out of the security biz.

Mr. Prince is blaming the media for repeating all those nasty rumors about Blackwater employees gunning down Iraqi civilians and generally being all reckless with human lives. It’s ruined Blackwater’s reputation and made leading a mercenary army just no fun anymore.

Mother Jones suspects that Mr. Prince is being just a wee bit disingenuous about his reason for “shifting focus”. It may have more to do with the increasing likelihood that the U.S. will finally be getting out of Iraq and taking its “contractors” with it.

Iraq will be better off without that collection of loose cannons running around the country.

But now we have to worry about what they’ll be doing instead to rake in the big bucks. Mother Jones warns us that Erick Prince

…has spent recent years diversifying his operations, branching out into manufacturing (of, among other things, armored vehicles), testing the waters in the humanitarian aid sector, and opening a private intelligence firm that caters to corporate clients.

Manufacturing? I get the impression that “quality control” is not Prince’s highest priority. Humanitarian aid? What would a theocratic imperialist’s priorities be in that sector? Private intelligence? What are the odds that the RNC is among his customers?

Whatever the likes of Erik Prince does is unlikely to be good news for our democracy.

Posted in Blackwater, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

While the FBI Goes After Eliot Spitzer…

Posted by MEC on March 11, 2008

…The very Honorable Henry Waxman is calling for a federal investigation of Blackwater.

In letters sent today, Waxman asked the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Department to investigate whether Blackwater defrauded the government of tax revenue and violated labor laws. Waxman also asked the Small Business Administration to determine whether Blackwater violated federal regulations by claiming it was eligible for small business preferences.
“The implications of Blackwater’s actions are significant,” wrote Waxman, D-Calif., in a memorandum to his colleagues on the panel. “Committee staff have estimated that Blackwater has avoided paying or withholding up to $50 million in federal taxes by treating its guards as independent contractors rather than employees.”

Also, Waxman wrote, Blackwater’s claim as a small business has earned it more than $144 million in contracts, despite being one of the largest private military contractors and receiving nearly $1.25 billion in federal business since 2000.

[…]

Waxman raised the issue last year, after he obtained a March letter from the IRS that warned that the company’s classification of a security guard as an independent contractor was “without merit.” The IRS’ finding had been the result of an inquiry filed by a Blackwater guard.

Seriously, which case does more harm to the country? One politician who can’t keep it in his pants? Or a government contractor that’s defrauding the government of millions of dollars?

So, which one do you expect to be all over the snooze media for days? And which case to you expect the DoJ to pursue with bulldog tenacity?

Before you answer, consider that Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat and Blackwater founder Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Bush Pioneer and former head of the Michigan Republican Party.

Posted in Blackwater, Busheviks, Henry Waxman | 1 Comment »

“Saddam Gassed His Own People!”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 10, 2008

And so, apparently, do we (or at least Blackwater):

The helicopter was hovering over a Baghdad checkpoint into the Green Zone, one typically crowded with cars, Iraqi civilians and United States military personnel.

Suddenly, on that May day in 2005, the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders. An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.

“This was decidedly uncool and very, very dangerous,” Capt. Kincy Clark of the Army, the senior officer at the scene, wrote later that day. “It’s not a good thing to cause soldiers who are standing guard against car bombs, snipers and suicide bombers to cover their faces, choke, cough and otherwise degrade our awareness.”

Both the helicopter and the vehicle involved in the incident at the Assassins’ Gate checkpoint were not from the United States military, but were part of a convoy operated by Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor that is under scrutiny for its role in a series of violent episodes in Iraq, including a September shooting in downtown Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.

Ah, Blackwater. The charming folk who “use their machine guns like car horns“.

Let’s see:  Saddam invaded a country on a flimsy pretext (which we, via April Glaspie, very likely gave to him); so did we.  Saddam arrested innocent people and tortured them at Abu Ghraib; so do we.  Saddam killed a whole lot of Iraqis; we’ve killed far more in less time.

What was this about moral authority again?

Posted in Blackwater, Bush Family Evil Empire, government malfeasance, Iraq war | 3 Comments »

Rapture Rescue!

Posted by Charles II on November 2, 2007

You can’t make this stuff up. The Guard is in Iraq, the states are strapped for funds, FEMA doesn’t give a rat’s rear end, and so….

Naomi Klein, The Guardian:

Just look at what is happening in southern California. Even as wildfires devoured whole swaths of the region, some homes in the heart of the inferno were left intact, as if saved by a higher power. But it wasn’t the hand of God; in several cases it was the handiwork of Firebreak Spray Systems. Firebreak is a special service offered to customers of insurance giant American International Group – but only if they happen to live in the wealthiest zip codes in the country. Members of the company’s Private Client Group pay an average of $19,000 to have their homes sprayed with fire retardant. During the fires, the “mobile units”, racing around in firetrucks, even extinguished fires for their clients….

During last year’s hurricane season, Florida homeowners were offered similarly high-priced salvation by HelpJet, a travel agency launched with promises to turn “a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation”. For an annual fee, a company concierge takes care of everything: transport to the air terminal, luxurious travel, bookings at five-star resorts.

Posted in abuse of power, anti-Americanism, Blackwater, BushCo malfeasance, climate change, evil, wrong way to go about it | 6 Comments »

Blackwater: Unlawful Combatants?

Posted by MEC on October 16, 2007

The Bush regime has used a broad definition of “unlawful combatant” to justify the capture and indefinite imprisonment of the detainees at Guantànamo.

Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times points out that under Bush’s definition, the Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq are “unlawful combatants”.

The designation of lawful and unlawful combatants is set out in the Geneva Convention.Lawful combatants are nonmilitary personnel who operate under their military’s chain of command. Others may carry weapons in a war zone but may not use offensive force. Under the international agreements, they may only defend themselves.

Given the growing number of reports that the mercenaries shot first, they’re going to have a tough time making the case that they were “defending themselves”.

Some Defense Department lawyers argue that shooting first is self-defense if the mercenaries “detected hostile intent”. That begs the question of whether the perception of “hostile intent” is an accurate assessment of the situation, or hostility-fueled paranoia.

You can probably guess which I think is likelier.

Lawful or unlawful, the Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq are supposedly going to be “phased out”. I don’t believe for an instant that Bush will deprive his crony Erik Prince of all that lovely profit. I can’t wait to find out how they manage to keep the cash flowing while removing Blackwater from public scrutiny.

Posted in abuse of power, Blackwater, hypocrites, Iraq war | 1 Comment »

 
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