September 20, 2007

Our new neighbors are too reckless and violent for Iraq

Blackwater, Inc. the multi-million dollar mercenarys-for-hire outfit, has been granted hundreds of millions of dollars of open-ended contracts to provide security and other services in Iraq, Afghanistan, and here in the U.S. that U.S. troops have traditionally provided for the past 200 plus years. It has a bad reputation, even in utterly insane and blood-soaked Iraq.

Blackwater armed mercenaries are paid much more than U.S. troops, and face no accountibility from anyone. It's very much like a private army. The BBC has an excellent profile of the company here.

In the clubby atmosphere of private security firms in Iraq, senior members of rival companies are often reluctant to criticize Blackwater.

But among the rank and file of security contractors, Blackwater guards are regularly ridiculed as cowboys who are relentlessly and pointlessly aggressive, carry excessive weaponry and do not appear to have top-of-the-line training.

Passing Blackwater convoys sometimes intimidates even Westerners, who fear coming under attack if they make a wrong move.

One is staggered to imagine just how reckless and bloodthirsty a group has to be to be actually kicked out of Iraq, but apparently after years of excesess and death, they finally went too far, and now the government of Iraq is giving them the boot.

This comes after an incident under investigation in which Blackwater cowboys, riding as they often do in big SUVs and armed to the teeth, shot up and blew up a small car containing a father, mother, and their young child, triggering a huge shooting spree which left 20 or more innocent civilians dead.

Blackwater, you may recall from a previous post here, is building an enormous and expensive training facility not too far north of here in Jo Davies County.

The enormous corporation was founded and is run a 34 year old former Nave Seal,
"billionaire right-wing fundamentalist Christian from a powerful Michigan Republican family. A major Republican campaign contributor, he interned in the White House of President George H.W. Bush and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992. He founded the mercenary firm Blackwater USA in 1997 with Gary Jackson, another former Navy SEAL."

Prince's father, Edgar Prince, and Gary Bauer started the Family Research Council, where Prince interned. Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Blackwater USA received no-bid contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and "post-Katrina New Orleans" from the current Bush administration.

An author who has written a book on Blackwater gives a history of the company and addressses Blackwater's Illinois project.

A video produced by The Nation magazine gives another overview of Blackwater and their massive and secretive operations.

A search on YouTube using the word "Blackwater" returns several clips about this company. (as well as The Weasel Tones covering the Doobie Bros. tune of the same name as a bonus.)

Bear in mind that your tax dollars are providing all their equipment, training, housing, vehicles, and also providing the company a healthy profit.

The previous post drew several comments from gung-ho types which find this sort of thing to be... I don't know... macho, I suppose. I imagine the same will happen again. What do you think of the practice of "privatizing" our armed forces?


At 9/20/2007 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why you are so opposed to our boys over in Iraq is hard to understand? If Blackwater's boys don't fight for us, who will? You or yours? I highly doubt it!!!

Thank God our country has a trained private army that can do our dirty work!

At 9/20/2007 5:40 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That's the most insane comment I've heard in a long time, and I've heard a lot of them.


At 9/20/2007 8:40 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

The macroeconomics of this are such that if Blackwater hadn't already existed, Shrubbie would have had to invent them.

But I do share your admiration for 1032-fight-them-there-fight-them-here-stand -up-sit-down-fight-fight-fight!

Purely stupefying.

At 9/21/2007 12:41 PM, Anonymous GI said...

Blackwater provides a service. I know a couple of guys who went to work for them when they "got out" because they pay so well. I wouldn't put my life on the line for any amount of money but these guys do (plus my wife wouldn't let me). They are put in the same positions as a soldier but at a lot more pay. Some guys are just war junkies and work for the Arsenal or other places that utilize civilians to go to war zones.

At 9/21/2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you wnat the bad guy to win. If it weren't for Blackwater we would be in deep trouble. They do the things that our military can't. They do not have to follow the rules of war and get the job done. It is ppeople like you that keep our military boys from doing what is needed to be done. This is why we need this new brand of military so that they do not have to listen to passivists like you.

At 9/22/2007 12:30 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

G.I., your observations are no doubt right on the mark and explain how outfits like Blackwater are able to find so many thousands of "employees" or soldiers for hire.

Aside from the renegade and often savage and inhuman behavior that has been reported from some of these guys, I can't say I fault them too much.

As you say, they're out of the services, highly trained to... well, let's face it, trained to kill other humans.

They know the tools, they know the tactics, they're professional killers. (leaving aside whether their mission is correct, justified, or even moral.)

And when you're just out of the service and sitting in a beer and shot place in your home town with no prospects in the sagging economy, and no particularly marketable skills, AND, when the military is the only life you've known for years and civilian life is like life on Mars, which you find difficult to adjust to, who can really blame them if they sign up when someone offers to pay them excellent money to in essense do the same thing they've done in service to the country for years?

It's a life they know, it's good money, and with nothing else going on at home, and perhaps trouble adjusting to civilian life, the temptation has got to be strong.

But the larger issue of whether we want to be contracting out our traditional military functions is something that the country needs to debate and decide.

At 9/22/2007 12:32 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

anon 3:19

Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, and thugs and dictators throughout history just loved weak-minded anti-democratic authoritarian boobs like yourself. They simply can't function without them.

Your comment is too loathsome and sickening to respond to beyond that.

At 9/22/2007 8:33 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

I think that Blackwater is probably "the only game in town" when it comes to military contractors, much like Halliburton is the only company in the world who can put out huge oil fires. That is why they get the contract. Liberals love to bitch about these specialized companies who do the dirty work, but they cannot point to any other companies who can provide the same services and get the job done.

The privatization of military operations is probably a necessary thing, unfortunately, when our enlistments in the US armed forces are down. Our volunteer military just doesn't have the manpower that it should. There are a number of reasons for this, which I won't get into.

Is it a bad thing? Well, it probably is when Blackwater isn't directly accountable to the public and they can do things that the military cannot and would not do. There is room for some shady business, kind of like when the CIA works with the mob to do their dirty work.

Blackwater employees are still American citizens and we must support them the way we would any American contractor serving abroad. You may remember that it was Blackwater employees who were killed in Fallujah and had their charred bodies drug through the streets and strung up from a bridge for the world to see. It is hard to imagine an "atrocity" more atrocious than this... and this too was "without provocation".
So now I am supposed to be outraged because Blackwater shoots some Iraqis?! More power to them.

At 9/22/2007 11:36 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I'll start with your last point first. What makes you think the lynching of the Blackwater mercs was "without provocation"? Any sources for that assertion?

Secondly, your notion that Blackwater is "the only game in town" and they're the only ones able to do the job they do is patently false.

A 20 second search on Google came up with a synopsis of a Frontline special on independent contractors in Iraq.

"Between the logistics giant Halliburton and a myriad of armed security companies, private military contractors comprise the second largest "force" in Iraq, far outnumbering all non-U.S. forces combined. There are as many as 100,000 civilian contractors and approximately 20,000 private security forces."

Well, when you're one of 20,000 separate security forces, I'm not too sure you could be considered "the only game in town."

Maybe the largest, maybe the most out of control, who knows... but definitely not the only game in town.

The clear fact is that this guy that runs Blackwater and his family were huge Bush contributors, he's also a far right fundementalist. He started his company just to provide a place for those who get off on going in the woods and playing soldier a place to go, and then when 9-11 happened, he saw the chance to make literally billions.

And they have. Billions of your tax dollars.

And the notion that our military, the finest on the planet, somehow can't or won't do the things that Blackwater does is simply ridiculous and insulting.

At 9/23/2007 12:26 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

I guess my concern is that our volunteer military does not have the manpower that it should and that recruitment numbers are way down. This is nothing new; it has been corroborated by a number of sources.

Government kickbacks and cronyism in the awarding of govt contracts and favors has also gone on for many years. It has gotten to where I don't expect better, just like I learned to stop believing in clean honest government and the tooth fairy.

Mercenaries have existed for centuries and they play a role in wars and they have a job to do. The job not for everybody, but if a guy is good at it and he likes the lifestyle and knows the risks involved, go for it.

I did not realize that there were other "mom and pop" mercenary businesses. But you could be right, there are soldiers of fortune who operate independently. As far as Halliburton, I I watched a show on History Channel about their subsidiary "Boots" company. But this was before the war and before Halliburton became villified. Anyhow, they said they are the only one in the world who can put out huge oil fires as they did in Kuwait. It is a large scale, specialized job. Still, liberals want to hire Joe Schmoe to go out there with a garden hose and put out an oil fire. Well it's just not that simple. Halliburton has a monopoly on that kind of work.

At 9/23/2007 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dope, you say that our military, the finest on the planet, somehow can't or won't do the things that Blackwater does is simply ridiculous and insulting. But you original premise contradicts this statement. One is staggered to imagine just how reckless and bloodthirsty a group has to be to be actually kicked out of Iraq, but apparently after years of excesess and death, they finally went too far, and now the government of Iraq is giving them the boot.
You can not have it both ways Dope.

At 9/23/2007 5:27 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...


The fundamental problem is that these modern privateers are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They're probably mostly good guys and, as ID concedes, well-trained. But they operate with a wink immunity from Iraqi law (if there really is any) and an exemption for the United States' application of Law of War.

Once we started down this road, it was guaranteed to be a bucket of snakes. This is different from hiring perimeter guards and cooks.

At 9/23/2007 11:00 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 2:25,
You'd have a point there if you had a point.

The fact of the matter is that one statement doesn't contradict the other in the slightest.

Your point presumes that there HAS to be someone running around Iraq shooting civilians almost for sport, as if they were less than dogs.

I don't think that's the case.

Blackwater got called on this because they're reckless, they spray automatic weapon fire like most people honk their car horns, and they're utterly unaccountible to anyone. If an Iraqi wants them to be held accountible for the wrongful slaughter of say, someone's wife and small children, and they go to the government for redress, they're told sorry, Blackwater answers to no one, not the Iraqi government, not the U.S. government, NO ONE.

The Republicans in congress have even passed bills which RETROACTIVELY shield all such murder for hire types from being held accountible for possible murder and attrocities in our court system.

You can try to twist this by suggesting I'm naive and think war is nice and everything is played by the rules, but you'd be being disengenous and lying.

But I would point out that the military, perhaps more than any other organization, most certainly DOES operate according to strict rules and regulations, including rules of engagement with civilians and the enemy.

And I hate to break it to you, but our government already has plenty of forces which can operate "off the books" so to speak when they feel the need for black ops is called for. That's something we've never been short of. DUH.

But the fact remains that our military can provide security, both defensive and offensive, better than these profiteering mercenary for hire outfits playing army, demoralizing our troops by out-earning them by several times magnitude, and not subject to any disciplinary measures from our government whatsoever.

They're operating at OUR behest, the American people, WE'RE paying them their large salaries and the huge profits the companies rake in.

Yet if they do something contrary to even the morality of war, and anyone wants to call them to account, sorry.... no can do.

That's bullshit. It's a rough military operating parallel to our legitimate armed forces.

And if the idea of the raising and training of a private army to rival our own doesn't cause you just a little pause, then you're beyond hope.

At 9/23/2007 11:06 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I wrote my reply to this commenter before I read yours.

Thanks once again for saying exactly what I was trying to say in a fraction of the space.

The problem here is that there ARE rules and regs, even in war, and these guys don't have to follow them at all.

I don't think Americans want, say, women shot and killed as they walk down the street simply because some cowboy with an automatic weapon mounted in the back of a Suburban gets a kick out of watching her die.

But if anyone wanted to do anything about it... too bad. It's illegal to bring suit against them.

War is brutal and morality has nothing to do with it for the most part.

But there still are lines that our military will not allow servicepeople to cross, as exemplified by the UCMJ.

These people are not bound by that, and while some authoritarian armchair warriors might get off on this sort of dime novel blood and guts, the fact remains that Iraq is NOT a freaking movie, and if they had to spend a half hour witnessing the horror and death over there, these oh-so-macho types would piss themselves.

At 9/24/2007 9:25 AM, Anonymous saul said...

"So now I am supposed to be outraged because Blackwater shoots some Iraqis?! More power to them."

This is the most appalling thing I have read in a long time. You think that because four heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries were killed in Fallujah in 2004 that it's justified for other Blackwater mercs to mow down unarmed Iraqi civilians in another part of Iraq years later? You have no idea what the Blackwater mercenaries who were killed in Fallujah were doing before they were killed, or how many Iraqis they killed, and yet you claim it was "without provocation." If you remember, which you probably don't, US troops had shot 70 Iraqis, killing 17 of them, at a demonstration in Fallujah some months before the Blackwater mercenaries were killed. The people in Fallujah were outraged, and felt they had every reason to hate Americans. And in case you forgot, in response to the Blackwater mercs getting killed, the US army went in and virtually destroyed the entire city of Fallujah in retribution for those four mercenaries killed. No one knows how many Iraqis were killed there, but we do know that before the assault, the US army only let women, children and elderly people leave the city, more or less condemning all of the men in the city to death in the destruction that followed.

But I guess that's not enough for you. Let's just keep on mowing'em down! Years later, as long as we're there (and we ain't leaving soon, because then the terrorists would win)! Civilians, not civilians, who cares? Mow'em all down! They're Iraqis! It's not like it's their country! Go Blackwater! More power to them!

At 9/24/2007 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. Not everyone in this country is a sissy. Some men and women are afraid, but others will be brave and face the guns with pride, and then relish the pending victory.

At 9/24/2007 12:24 PM, Anonymous Dell said...

Can't you remember those Blackwater guys swinging from the bridge (all burned up)?

At 9/24/2007 8:26 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 9:52

Victory, as in.......?

Keep fantasizing about a "victory", because there never will be one, and even you can't define what it would be, because it's impossible.

It's a pipe-dream of die-hard rockheads who think this is WWII or something.

Wise up.

At 9/24/2007 8:27 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Yeah, I remember. What's your point?

At 9/24/2007 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blackwater is a patriotic organization performing their job, and quite well.

I would surely want their members to defend the U.S. on domestic soil in time of war.

Their overseas value is priceless.

If others only knew what I know and can not share...perhaps TID and others would gain a little respect for their efforts.

At 9/25/2007 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blackwater was reinstated yesterday. They are needed for us to do what needs to be done. There are still Americans that have the fortitude to back Americans in combat. It is the right thing for Americans to do.

At 9/25/2007 2:59 PM, Anonymous yinn said...

Blackwater is not even the largest contractor, just the best known because a) the outfit managed to keep Bremer alive while he was there, and b) like Bremer, is the most hated by decent people everywhere.

At 9/25/2007 9:02 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Must be hell being a super-secret ultra freedom force member.

Sounds like Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam.

If it's something that would be regarded as so valueable by American citizens, then surely it wouldn't need to be secret.

Methinks you're playing games.

And once more, it's not about whether they provide a valuable service or not, it's whether they should be getting 6 figure salaries, their companies making multiple millions in profits, trying to expand into becoming a de-facto domestic army outside the constitution, and whether they should be shielded from all laws, both in Iraq and the U.S.

At 9/25/2007 9:04 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 7:27

yeah, it's amazing what a little fortitude and a few hundred thousand bucks, plus the guarantee of being able to kill without consequence can do. Wow.

At 9/26/2007 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you risk your life for a 6 figure salary, when welders working at the factory for John Deere make that much money?

At 9/26/2007 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you agree that paying professional soldiers six figures is preferable to drafting 18-year old boys from Moline High?

Our country has used "private" forces to supplement our ranks since our great country was founded! Methinks you need to read an America's history book!

Profits for private companies before the Dope implements a draft!

At 9/26/2007 9:44 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 9:39

That's a very silly question. And since when do welders make 6 figure salaries? Maybe specialists, but I don't see a gneral production welder making that much.

And if I were a guy who'd just gotten out of the service and had nothing going on, was trained to kill people and had relatively no other skills, and the job market was non-existent, then yeah, that might be appealing.

At 9/26/2007 9:47 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 11:42

I VERY MUCH would prefer a draft of Moline High students and from all kids of service age.

That's the only fair way to do it, it would put an end to those of you who view this war as some sort of distant video game due to the fact that you are sacrificing exactly NOTHING for it at all, and it would get the wealthy and influential among our society SCREAMING for an end to the war this minute, lest their own flesh and blood have to be fed into the meat grinder.

You're damn right I think a draft is preferable to letting these goon squads loot our treasury.

At 9/27/2007 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That you would rather lose a Moline high school student than pay a professional warrior to kill the enemy proves how out of touch with reality you are. If you think you are in the mainstream why don't you post a DOPE POLL and find out what your commenters think?

At 9/28/2007 5:09 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 8:23

You're damn right I expect EVERYONE to share in the sacrifice, or else stop the damn occupation, if it's not worth that sacrifice.

You obviously don't think it's worth the blood of any kids from Moline, but you'd willingly PAY someone perhaps less fortunate to go die in their place. And you think this is really honorable?

If you don't think this stupid occupation is worth any Moline kids losing their lives over, then WHY THE HELL DO YOU SUPPORT IT?

Either you think it's a cause worth losing American lives for, or you don't. Which is it?

You should be demanding it come to an end immediately.

Secondly, I couldn't possibly care less whether I'm in the "mainstream". Apparently your position as a politician means you can't hold any views that haven't been proven to be right down the middle, and thus really ineffective.

But I'm not running for office. I don't have to consult consultants and pay pollsters to figure out where I stand on an issue.

I don't care whether I'm the only one on the planet that holds a particular view. If I believe it's right and have solid reasons for feeling so, then that's the way it is.

I think everyone from all economic and ethnic backgrounds should have to share equally in our countries military campaigns.

The thought of a bought and paid for military for hire going around the world killing and plundering in our names, while goofs like you continue to live as if nothing is happpening, sacrificeing not a thing, is truly sickening and contrary to everything this country stands for.

At 9/29/2007 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inside Dope,

Thank you for providing this information. I wish it were more widely shown - esp here in Illinois. I bet most Americans would be appalled to know that our military is being put at risk for the actions these criminals perpetrate on the Iraqi people.

Appalling. I am writing my senators today and asking them to shut this group down at least here in Illinois.

At 9/29/2007 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These private soldiers are Americans. They choose to go. The benefits are that thay do not have to follow the same rules that the military does. And to thye person that stated that blackwater was a tiny outfit, blackwater is the largest of the big three firms in Iraq. You people are jelous and ignorant.

At 9/29/2007 10:35 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 10:20

At last! A citizen who's not either asleep, misinformed, apathetic, cynical, half-nuts, or all of the above.

Hats off to you for taking a stake in this great country.

At 9/29/2007 10:40 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 4:12

Yep, we're so "ignurent" that we can't even spell jealous apparently. I guess it's your way, right?

And damn right we're all "jelous".

Who wouldn't be? Being able to sit on some rooftop over in the sweltering heat with a high powered weapon taking pot shots at men women and children. Or maybe having a few cold ones and driving around town squeezing off a few hundred rounds from a huge machine gun out the back of a Suburban and then laughing your asses off as innocent Iraqi's swerve off the road with their car riddled with bullets.

Who wouldn't want to experience such a hellishly immoral and twisted reality?

It's apparent you'd love to imagine yourself as some Rambo character putting holes in brown people. Probably rubbing your thighs right now just thinking about it.

At 10/01/2007 12:40 PM, Anonymous yinn said...

Not all the private soldiers are Americans. They come from several different countries, including those (e.g. Chile) that rejected sending troops to Iraq. An end run around sovereignty.

There will be another demonstration at Blackwater North this month.

BTW, Jeremy Scahill is really hot, smart and passionate in person. These yahoos who sit around "supporting" the troops and mercenaries without contributing their bodies to the effort have nothing on somebody like Scahill, who puts his money where his mouth is.


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