Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blackwater, The Privatization of War And Public Enemy Number One

When we evaluate the facts, the use of private military contractors appears to have harmed, rather than helped, the counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S. mission in Iraq, going against our best doctrine and undermining critical efforts of our troops. Even worse, the government can no longer carry out one of its most basic core missions: to fight and win the nation's wars. Instead, the massive outsourcing of military operations has created a dependency on private firms like Blackwater that has given rise to dangerous vulnerabilities.The dark truth about Blackwater

The idea of privatization of American public and governmental functions has been at the center of the neo conservative movement and over the last decade has been presented as the cure for everything that ails us from Social Security to Medicare, prison administration to public education, law enforcement and even the waging of war.

This idea that private enterprise can accomplish governmental functions more efficiently, at less cost while providing better service is, of course absurd and, in fact, is nothing but an enormous lie, and, like all enormous lies, if repeated often and loudly by the right authority figures and affirmed in "scholarly" studies performed by the Heritage or American Enterprise think tanks, it will take hold and seem, to a sizable portion of the uncritical public, to be the truth, simply because they have heard it so many times from so many familiar voices.

The marketing/propaganda professionals of the Cheney /Bush administration have carefully studied their Goebbels and know that the truth is what they can sell to those gullible enough to believe it especially when delivered in a climate of xenophobic, racist or religious fear, and due to the fact that a large percentage of our citizenry are either unable to look at their government and the wider corporate culture which largely dictates public policy, with a properly suspicious eye, or simply doesn't give a damn as long as no one threatens to take away their snowmobiles, shotguns and cheap access to the mind numbing inanity of popular culture and celebrity, the great lies become public truths and "common knowledge."

Seven years ago the people of this country nearly elected a federal administration that came to office expressing a hatred of government and an intention to reduce the size and influence of it in regulating the affairs of the ruling capitalist class, while at the same time charting a course to invade the lives and privacy and reduce the fundamental freedoms of the lesser classes. How anyone could expect those who despise government and representative democracy to govern effectively and efficiently is well beyond my understanding.

After their near election and illegal appointment to the highest offices in a government that they had absolutely no respect for, Cheney and Bush along with their corporate mafia criminal associates began to strip the federal regulatory agencies of dedicated professionals who took the job of regulating business and industry in the interest of public health and safety seriously, and started replacing them with industry cronies who simply stopped enforcing the laws so that businesses could achieve greater profits.

Pause for a brief digressive rant

"The business of America is business," Cal Coolidge said eighty some years ago, and these guys heard the phrase in Grandpa's Sunday sermons and Grandma's lullabies before they learned to read.

"Need a comprehensive national energy policy? Just holler down the hall from Cheney's office and a half dozen current and former big oil Poobahs will write it up for you including emphasis on the necessity of gaining pipeline routes through Afghanistan and control of Iraq and Iran's oil. They'll phony up the intelligence, everything, a turnkey operation"

"Need to increase profits for some buddies in the coal industry? No problem, we'll put one of our boys in charge of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Make a recess appointment, you'll get any mining plan you need approved, no matter the cost in death and injury to the miners who have to implement it."

"Having trouble with the EPA, the FDA, OSHA or any other pesky collection of bureaucratic acronyms? We'll gut it for you and have our boys in industry pay for bogus scientific opinions to justify our continuing rape of the environment and pollution of our air and water supply."

"Labor costs out of line, we'll loan you money at low interest, what the hell, make it no interest to build factories and send the jobs offshore. We'll get you a subsidy to take your jobs to Asia or Central America where you'll have no environmental regulations. You'll be able to pollute at will and you can pay people in dirt. No kidding these people will work for dirt, you'll love it there, the government over there shoots the bastards if they're late for work. Its an entrepreneur's Disney World."

"The Iraqis won't agree to your terms for oil leases? Fuck em, We'll send in the troops, give em a little taste of shock and awe. Iran too? No problem bring it on. If these pussy Generals drag their heels we'll send Blackwater.

During the first Gulf War the ratio of "private contractors" to regular troops was something like 6 or 7 to one, in Iraq today it is closer to 3 to 1.
"They use their machine guns like car horns."
America's Private Army - Psycho Cowboys For Hire

When she saw the gunmen turn toward the bus, Ms. Sattar looked at her mother in fear. "They're going to shoot at us, Mama," she said. Her mother hugged her close. Moments later, a bullet pierced her mother's skull and another struck her shoulder, Ms. Sattar recalled.

As her mother's body went limp, blood dripped onto Ms. Sattar's head, still cradled in her mother's arms.

"Mother, Mother," she called out. No answer. She hugged her mother's body and kissed her lips and began to pray.The bus emptied, and Ms. Sattar sat alone at the back, with her mother's bleeding body.

"I'm lost now, I'm lost," she said days later in her simple two-bedroom home.

"They are killers," she said of the Blackwater guards. "I swear to God, not one bullet was shot at them. Why did they shoot us? My mother didn't carry a weapon." 8 deadly days for Blackwater

Blackwater claims that they were attacked by armed insurgents and acted only in self defense. As reports surfaced of indiscriminate firing from Blackwater helicopters they denied that the choppers had fired at all. How to explain the large holes that had been blasted in several car roofs from above? That pesky al Oaeda in Iraq Air Force up to its usual mischief I suppose.

An Advertising Pitch For Serial Killers In Corporate-ese?

Blackwater Worldwide efficiently and effectively integrates a wide range of resources and core competencies to provide unique and timely solutions that exceed our customer's stated need and expectations.

We are guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world. Blackwater Worldwide professionals leverage state-of-the-art training facilities, professional program management teams, and innovative manufacturing and production capabilities to deliver world class customer driven solutions.

Our leadership and dedicated family of exceptional employees adhere to an essential system of core corporate values chief among them are integrity, innovation, excellence, respect, accountability, and teamwork.

Blackwater USA website

By now you've probably seen videos of Blackwater and other mercenary outfits racing down Iraqi roads firing indiscriminately at innocent civilians to the tune of rock and roll music and raucous laughter. Paid at a rate four to ten times what we pay our legitimately serving soldiers, Bush's army of "rent a thugs" has become yet another hairy wart on the perception of America in the eyes of the international community.

A clerk in the Iraqi customs office in Diyala province, she was in the capital to drop off and pick up paperwork at the central office near busy al-Khilani Square, not far from the fortified Green Zone, where top U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work. U.S. officials often pass through the square in heavily guarded convoys on their way to other parts of Baghdad.

As Ms. Hussein walked out of the customs building, an embassy convoy of sport utility vehicles drove through the intersection. Blackwater USA security guards, charged with protecting the diplomats, yelled at construction workers at an unfinished building to move back. Instead, the workers threw rocks. The guards, witnesses said, responded with gunfire, spraying the intersection with bullets.

Ms. Hussein, who was on the opposite side of the street from the construction site, fell to the ground, shot in the leg. As she struggled to her feet and took a step, eyewitnesses said, a Blackwater guard trained his weapon on her and shot her multiple times. She died on the spot, and the customs documents she'd held in her arms fluttered down the street.

Before the shooting stopped, four other people were killed in what would be the beginning of eight days of violence Iraqi officials say bolster their argument that Blackwater should be banned from working in Iraq. 8 deadly days for Blackwater

You may have also seen pictures of hired goons from the same company swaggering their way through the streets of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The fact that private security firms were being hired to perform public law enforcement functions made my skin crawl two years ago and everything that I have learned since increases my sense of dread about this company, its political connections to the Cheney/Bush gang and the prospects of what its future "missions" may mean for Americans and our fundamental freedoms.

The House began a round of hearings yesterday before the Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by California Democrat Henry Waxman. The hearings come as a result of the deaths of as many as 20 Iraqi civilians in what looks like yet another in a long series of "shoot first and cover it up later" operations which seems to be the stock in trade of many of these "private security" firms. The committee will also be looking into the dozens of unanswered questions regarding the funding and even the number of "contractors" engaged in Iraq and elsewhere.
The hearings may be another toothless effort on the part of our limpwristed legislature as they have already agreed to defer to the FBI and the State Department. If they believe that they will get the truth from Blackwater's enablers at State or any part of the Bush Department of Justice.. well, I have a bridge for sale.

So, Blackwater was a subcontractor to Regency, which was a subcontractor to ESS, which was a subcontractor to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary, the prime contractor for the Pentagon -- and each company along the way was in business to make a profit.
U.S. Pays Steep Price for Private Security in Iraq, WAPO

Privatization has led directly to the doubling of our national debt during the Cheney/Bush era. Rather than performing public business more efficiently they have embroiled the world in a series of brutal and illegal wars while engineering the rape of the American treasury in the conversion of enormous amounts of public treasure to private hands. Fraud, waste and theft abound and what is done within the confines of the law is shameful.

For all the hubbub over the recent Blackwater incident, the American public remains largely unaware of the private military industry. While private forces make up more than 50 percent of the overall operation in Iraq, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, they have been mentioned in only a quarter of 1 percent of all American media stories on Iraq.

Yet, at the same time, contractors are one of the most visible and hated aspects of the American presence in Iraq. "They seal off the roads and drive on the wrong side. They simply kill," Um Omar, a Baghdad housewife, told Agence France Press about Blackwater in a report in mid-September. A traffic policeman at Al-Wathba square in central Baghdad concurred: "They are impolite and do not respect people, they bump other people's cars to frighten them and shout at anyone who approaches them ... Two weeks ago, guards of a convoy opened fire randomly that led to the killing of two policemen ... I swear they are Mossad," he said, referring to the Israeli spy service, which is a catch-all for anything perceived as evil in the Arab world.The dark truth about Blackwater

I don't know what it will take for the people of this country to reverse this course, to stop this mad dash into the the abyss of fascist tyranny that I see on our horizon. Aside from responding to public opinion polls people seem to be sleepwalking through the ongoing destruction of our Constitution. During the Vietnam war the voices of protest increased every year until the government was forced to heed the crescendo and bring an end to the madness. Perhaps the press, the media in those days was more independent of the mega corporations that now determine public policy by buying every available politician, they are certainly quick to preach the Bush doctrine today, they are greatly to blame.

I don't see anything from the general public but meekness, fear of being impolite, of creating a disturbance and that meekness is sustenance for those who would enslave us, our meekness is the very bread and wine of their existence.
I think though, that we, all of us are public enemy number one, I did not work hard enough, write effectively enough or shout loudly enough, we acquiesced quietly in the face of authority figures and "experts" when we knew better.

The fundamental rule of democracy is to distrust authority and demand accountability and somewhere along the line we forgot that and abrogated our responsibility to stand firm and demand freedom and justice in the face of would be tyrants.

I hope that I get interesting cell mates in the gulag. The guy on the left may be our guard.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

Related stories, sources and links:
Subcontracting the War

Blackwater Banned In Iraq

U.S. Pays Steep Price for Private Security in Iraq

Amid uproar, Blackwater stops land deal

Pentagon Issues Blackwater New $92 Million Contract

Death From All Sides

GOP Occupied America: Does the GOP "Vision Thing" Include Blackwater Patrolling America's Cities, Innocent People Awaiting Death?

Private contractors threaten U.S. democracy

The Bush administration's ties to Blackwater

Blackwater Portrayed As Out of Control

From Errand to Fatal Shot to Hail of Fire to 17 Deaths

Guards in Iraq Cite Frequent Shootings