Here’s a must-read report: Jeremy Scahill’s “Blackwater Down” in the current issue of The Nation. It’s a follow-up to his and Daniela Crespo’s “Overkill” about the deployment of privatized paramilitary mercenaries in New Orleans, like those pictured below, as noted here two weeks ago.
Cahill quotes one of the roughly “150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear” who “wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it” and complained that “he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem.” The guy didn’t know where he was, either. Cahill quotes him: “When they told me New Orleans, I said, ‘What country is that in?'”
The report continues:
One might ask, given the enormous presence in New Orleans of National Guard, US Army, US Border Patrol, local police from around the country and practically every other government agency with badges, why private security companies are needed, particularly to guard federal projects.
Here’s why: “Blackwater’s success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP.”
According to election records, Blackwater’s CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands [of dollars] to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush’s victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum’s re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he “saw a lot of things I didn’t agree with — homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills.
Cahill’s scary conclusion is a warning:
[With the Bullshitter-in-Chief] using the Katrina disaster to try to repeal Posse Comitatus (the ban on using US troops in domestic law enforcement) and Blackwater and other security firms clearly initiating a push to install their paramilitaries on US soil, the war is coming home in yet another ominous way. As one Blackwater mercenary said, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”
Get thee to Washington.
— Tireless Staff of Thousands