Friday, August 12, 2011

Blackwater for sale



Blackwater, the private mercenary army was purchased by USTC Holdings on December 17, 2010. Let's pause for a moment and reflect upon that absurdity. Creating a privatized military then selling it to the highest bidder.

As we debate warrantless Internet surveillance we also need to discuss excessive privatization of the military because this is the dark road Stephen Harper wants to take us down. Conservatives claim that the private sector runs business more efficiently and can be a better steward of taxpayers resources then the government can.

Enron and the California prisons systems are two prime examples of how false that is but there are many more. Blackwater is another. Privatizing the military sounds like something from a B rated horror film. Yet this is our modern reality south of the 49. The problem with excessive privatization is the removal of public accountability.

We've mentioned how Haliburton made a fortune out of the invasion of Iraq. Well Blackwater was right there too. In fact after hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, within a week Blackwater was hired by the Department of Homeland Security to operate in the US gulf, billing the federal government $950.00 a day for each Blackwater soldier. In less than a year, the company had raked in more than $70 million in federal hurricane related contracts.

That's a lot of money. Not only that, what are Blackwater soldiers doing patrolling the United States after a hurricane? They're not handing out relief aid. They're using a military to prevent looting and who knows what else. This was a sad insider trading deal when the same government was turning away truck loads of aid from other agencies. Instead of embezzling that much tax dollars to a private mercenary army, they could have spent it on relief. The violations of the US Constitution that resulted from Blackwater occupation of New Orleans was astonishing. That is not what happens in a free and democratic society. Authorizing a private company to enter someone's home and use lethal force is astonishing.

Greystone Limited is one of the many shell companies operating under Blackwater's umbrella that was registered as an off shore tax exempt corporate entity in 2004. The countries which Greystone claimed to draw recruits from was the Philippines, Chile, Nepal, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Peru. In Iraq, Blackwater has deployed scores of Chilean mercenaries, some of whom trained and served under the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet. (Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill Page xxiii)

A lack of public accountability isn't the only reason these mercenaries are being used. They have a lack of legal accountability too. Blackwater argues that since they are part of the US Military total force they are exempt from civil laws. Yet they also argue that since they are civilians and not part of the government's military they are also exempt from military discipline.

This dark road is where the unthinkable happens. This is where we in North America lose our liberty as safeguarded by the Constitution the snake oil salesmen quoted to create the clone army. It is a dark day for the republic indeed. Blackwater is now also called Xe Services.

The name change is timely. It comes after two former Blackwater employees filed court documents claiming 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. It also comes after allegations of arms smuggling.

4 comments:

  1. A few points here.

    First off, I know it fits your world view to refer to private security contractors as 'mercenaries' but the term is not accurate. And if you want to be taken seriously by those outside your personal demographic you have to be accurate.

    A mercenary is a soldier for hire to an entity other than his own country. Look it up. While most all PSC's are former soldiers, this is more for the necessity of operating in a war zone and having previous tactical experience with that. This does NOT mean they are operating as soldiers. No one is engaging in anything other than protective operations. No one is doing offensive or preemptive combat ops. The actual military does all of that, regardless of how much you'd like to think otherwise. Also, all American's so employed are deployed in support of US government operations, not a foreign entity. So, the term 'mercenary' is doubly inaccurate. Chileans/Peruvians/Ugandans are employed as perimeter/gate guards only.

    Second of all, the idea that anyone is getting away with shooting people indiscriminately is completely inaccurate. No one so employed really wants to wind up needing to use a weapon because in the post Nisour Square era, it's a virtually guaranteed ticket home. No job, no pay. Guys WILL do what they have to, and what they're paid to do, ie. protect people, but no one is looking for trouble. You have to be insane to do that when the usual method of attack is an explosive device and to respond to an attack if you don't have to, vs. just leaving the scene will lead to unemployment.

    When all the math is done, PSC's are actually cheaper than a soldier. I won't bore you with the figure's but it's true. That's one reason why it's done. Also, that legal exemption thing is long dead, PSC's are all subject to both Iraqi and American federal law. Why do you think those 2 Paravant (BW by another of it's names)guys were arrested by the FBI in their hometowns, tried, convicted, and sentenced to Federal time for manslaughter over an incident in Afghanistan that violated their rules of engagement? Oh, you didn't know about that? Why not? It was reported in the media just like the Nisour Square incident was. Sometimes people know what they want to know, they look for stuff that supports their outlook as opposed to anything that would balance it....

    Lastly, you should not tar all PSC's with the Blackwater brush. (pun intended) It is widely known within the industry that there is a difference in corporate outlook between BW and other contractors. A lot of guys have left BW for the reason that they disagreed with some aspects of that and were more comfortable working elsewhere. When you talk about PSC's you are generally talking about folks with a very high level of personal responsibility. You have to be to do this job. You think you've got bunch of thrill killers out here shooting kids for fun? You're fucking dreaming. Whatever you do downrange you have to be able to live with.

    I do understand that the public has only people like Jeremy Scahill and Robert Pelton to depend on for any information, and that's unfortunate, because people like that have an agenda. Can you honestly not look at what Scahill wrote and see that? The real story is nowhere the way they tell it. But if they throw "mercenary" around a bit and act like you are the one warning everyone of something they "need" to know about, people pay attention to them and buy their books. Always bear in mind the motivation of someone like that. They get paid for it. People interview them and laud them for it. That's their payoff. These guys and and most of the talking heads ego's are on the same frequency.

    Are you paying me to tell you any of this? Nope. Could it be that I care more about truth than money?

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  2. I’m just inherently opposed to a privatized military. Privatizing the military then selling it to the highest bidder is absurd. Going in to people’s homes with guns drawn during hurricane Katrina is something from a Star Wars or dare I say a WWII movie. Going into neighborhoods where there was no violence and taking away their guns is absolutely astounding. It was a violation of their constitutional rights.

    It’s not cheaper. These private companies are embezzling tax dollars based on that lie. They’re not publically accountable either. That makes them mercenaries. A private company is mandated to make a profit. It has no moral compass. The charges against Erik Prince are real and need to be addressed.

    I’m not opposed to excessive privatization because I’m a socialist and I like the government to control everything. I’m opposed to excessive privatization because it removes public accountability and is undemocratic. It also opens the door for fraud and ripping off taxpayers’ like Enron and like the California prison system.

    Deregulating the banks doesn’t eliminate red tape and make it easier for business to prosper. It just makes it easier for criminals to commit fraud so people can rip them off then get bailed out at taxpayers’ expense.

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  3. "These private companies are embezzling tax dollars based on that lie. They’re not publically accountable either. That makes them mercenaries."

    Well, just so we're clear that we're going with your definition of the word rather than the dictionary one then..... ;)

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  4. Well, just so we're clear that we're going with your definition of the word rather than the dictionary one then..... ;)

    Well to be honest most words in the dictionary have more than one definition.

    Semantics aside,I do believe most people consider the term mercenary to apply to a hired gun/soldier no matter what their country of residence is.

    If we think of mercenaries in that way then BW would surely be thought of by most citizens as a private run army of mercenaries.

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