Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blackwater USA

Today, Congress began an important hearing into Blackwater USA, a private mercenary firm who has extensive contracts in Iraq and their use of force. This isn't a new problem, but it took an egregious act of aggression to bring it to a hearing.

Why mention this on a blog about Maine? Mostly because it's so very important. Blackwater's activities in Iraq undermine any small good we've managed to accomplish and our dependence upon them and other private contractors is economically excessive and not viable as a long term solution. Right now we're in a viscious cycle. We can't win with them, and we shouldn't abide their actions, but we cannot go to war without them.

There's a whole lot about Blackwater that's smelly: The founder, Erik Prince, is a fundamentalist Christian, from a very, very wealthy Michigan Republican family. He served as an intern in the Bush White House. His sister The firm has shown an 80,000% increase in government contracts since 2001; most of the contracts awarded have been in no bid situations; your tax dollars are spent at a rate of $1,222 per day per Blackwater contractor, and Blackwater operatives earn as much as $600.00 per day. Does your loved one who's serving in the military get even close to that salary? In previous cases where Blackwater has killed innocent Iraqis, the State Department has arranged cash payoffs to make the matter go away.

But the stinkiest thing of all: Order number 17 , signed into effect by Paul Bremmer, which effectively gives contractors working in Iraq a free pass to do as they please, without fear of prosecution. Our troops can be tried for murder and excessive use of force, but not a Blackwater mercenary soldier. Our "Christian Nation" is effectively turning a blind eye to injustice and "sin" and no rule of law for these men, and it's got to stop.

The New York Times blog live blogged Erik Prince's testimony today, complete with embedded video and the WaPo has an extensive article. Salon has background here and here.

If you're really interested, Jeremy Scahill has written an excellent book on Blackwater, entitled Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Don't read it at night. It's scary enough to give you nightmares.


the blue state blogger said...

It's very scary to me when even our national defense is being privatized. You have to think these soldiers of fortune would do the same thing for the Iranians if they paid them $700 a day.

mainelife said...

Yup. More scary? The guy who owns blackwater is a theocrat dominionist who believes we should be a "christian" nation.
He's got 23,000 heavily armed and trained men at his command.....scares the bejesus out of me.

the blue state blogger said...

"The guy who owns blackwater is a theocrat dominionist who believes we should be a "christian" nation."

So is the President of the United States.

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