Of all the insane Bush privatization efforts, none is more frightening than the corporatizing of military combat forces. Jeremy Scahill admirably exposes a devastating example of this sinister scheme.
On March 31st, 2004, four Americans were set upon by an angry mob of Iraqis in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah. They were riddled with bullets, burned beyond recognition and two were strung up like charred cattle from a bridge over the Euphrates River. This day marked the unofficial beginning of the Iraqi insurgence and the end of “Mission Accomplished.” These four Americans were not soldiers in the U.S. Army nor were they civilians, but rather highly trained mercenaries from a reclusive private army based in the wilderness of North Carolina.
An army now known to the American people as Blackwater USA.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Army tells the story of the creation of one of the most powerful and secretive forces yet to crawl out of the swamp known as the U.S. military-industrial complex. (Ironically, Blackwater started out as a private military training camp located near the black waters of the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina). Sounding like it came out of the mind of an over-caffeinated screenwriter, this B-grade Hollywood action film is all too real and its author, Jeremy Scahill shows us a movie that will chill you to the bone.
Blackwater, recently splashed all over the front pages for the indiscriminate killing of 17 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 22 others, was a My Lai incident waiting to happen. Scahill tells us in riveting detail just how we got to this point. The book is an in-depth expose of a man, Erik Prince, and his company. Blackwater goes inside the war machine to look at the role of this private army as well as inside the minds of the men who reap the benefits from it.
For example, we recently learned that Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater mercenary stationed in Iraq got real drunk last Christmas at a party in the Green Zone. He then wandered around shooting off his gun at anything that moved finally killing the personal bodyguard of Iraq’s Vice President. He was quickly shuffled out of the country and the victim’s family was funneled Moonen’s back pay by Blackwater to just go away. But the Blackwater affair will not go away. Currently there is a bureaucratic wrestling match going on between State and Defense as to what do with their bastard stepchild.
We learn that Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater U.S.A, was one of the wealthiest people to ever serve in the elite US Navy SEALS. (His father invented the lighted vanity mirror that you find on your car’s sun visor. He sold it to the auto industry and made a huge fortune.) A major moneyman for George Bush and friends, Prince descends from a conservative Christian dynasty that helped fund the 1994 Republican revolution and the rise of the Bush presidency. All the players are now familiar to us. Blackwater’s vice chairman is Joseph Schmitz, the Bush administration’s former Pentagon Inspector General. Among its top guns is J. Cofer Black, one of the most famous CIA spies in U.S. history. Recently, Bush named Blackwater’s former lawyer Fred Fielding as White House Counsel.
Fifty thousand private mercenaries are in Iraq today. They report to no one but their company heads. They are paid upwards of $1500 a day in some cases. Many have come from death squads and repressive regimes of yesteryear. They are quick on the trigger, have a license to kill and are not afraid to use it according to numerous news reports.
You can watch Blackwater author Jeremy Scahill discuss the rise of the mercenaries here.
At home, Prince commands the largest private army in the United States. This includes some 20,000 men, advanced weaponry, training facilities, military gunships, armored vehicles and assorted aircraft.
Blackwater has openly declared its forces above the law. They have claimed immunity against civilian litigation here in the United States as well as military immunity in Iraq based on order written by one of their first assignments – CPA head L. Paul Bremer.
Eric Prince says that his forces are only “accountable to our country.” And even that depends on who is running it.
Blackwater, now facing numerous lawsuits, has just recently hired infamous attorney Kenneth Starr to represent them on a series of cases that are likely heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
One of the scariest sections of the book describes Blackwater’s deployment of heavily armed forces into the battered streets of New Orleans following the destruction by Hurricane Katrina. Their troops fanned out through the city to “stop looters” and “confront criminals,” despite not having a contract nor authorization from any government entity.
If you think that was a onetime deal think again. Blackwater recently negotiated with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, among other state governments, to respond to natural disasters. The visual idea of heavily armed Blackwater personnel patrolling through neighborhoods of Los Angeles and San Francisco is truly frightening and surreal.
Up until their recent media setback, Blackwater has been full speed ahead on their plans to become international guns for hire. Sudan is a goal. Jordan is a reality. The Caspian Sea is already part of their history.
Erik Prince has a division of Blackwater in search of contracts for providing military and espionage-type intelligence. This could get real messy.
What’s next? Privatizing the CIA? You guessed it.
Prince claims that he would only follow the foreign policy of the United States in overseas conflicts. Critics see this as a smokescreen. It just might depend on who is making that foreign policy. They have been called the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration. But if Democrats retake the White House in 2008 and cancel Blackwater’s contracts some feel this right wing Christian militia will simply align themselves with American corporations as their private muscle.
Now even you, the CrooksandLiars reader, can invade foreign countries, kill with impunity and make tons of dough. That’s right you! Get off the couch. Apply to be a Blackwater mercenary TODAY!
The Rise Of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army
A screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert is the Senior Film and Book Reviewer for CrooksandLiars.com. As a filmmaker he has produced numerous documentaries for HBO. Groubert is also the former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he has written for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications. He is currently at work on his memoirs…or so he says.