February 25, 2010

Rachel Maddow talk to The Nation's Jeremy Scahill about the lastest Blackwater scandal where they stole weapons meant for the Afghan police. Scahill has a longer list yet.

MADDOW: Whatever the level of U.S. government oversight of the defense contractor Blackwater has or hasn‘t been, that level is very likely about to change. We have just learned that the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that in September 2008, more than 200 AK-47s were signed out by a Blackwater employee apparently named for this guy.


ERIC CARTMAN, CARTOON CHARACTER: Hey, I‘m a cop and you will respect my authority.


MADDOW: That is Eric Cartman from “South Park.” Eric Cartman is the name that a Blackwater contractor used to sign out hundreds of AK-47s for Blackwater employee‘s personal use in Afghanistan. These were guns that were supposed to be issued to Afghan police. And no, there was no one actually named Eric Cartman working for Blackwater at that time. And no, Blackwater employees at that time were not even allowed to possess weapons in Afghanistan without permission—which, of course, they did not have.

In December 2008, after grabbing these weapons they weren‘t supposed to have, a Blackwater contractor jumped on the back of a moving vehicle with his loaded weapon. When that moving vehicle hit a bump, the contractor accidentally shot another contractor in the head. What happened to the “Dukes of Hazard” reckless shooter? Blackwater sent the shooter back home to the U.S.—that was it.

Blackwater was also nailed today for setting up a shell company for its operations in Afghanistan to avoid being associated with Blackwater‘s infamy.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO), ARMED SERV. COMMITTEE: The people that were working for you in the theater said, yes, we work for Blackwater. But you know we work for Blackwater. Our paycheck came from Blackwater. We were Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater.

Paravant just appears to be a classic example of a cover corporation in order for the people who are doing the contract not to know who they‘re really contracting with.


MADDOW: Despite all of this, it was reported this week that Blackwater is in the running for another new multimillion-dollar contract from the Defense Department to train Afghan police—the police they stole all those weapons from under the name of the kid from “South Park.”

Joining us now is national security correspondent with “The Nation” magazine, Jeremy Scahill. He was at the hearing today. He‘s also the author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World‘s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

Jeremy, thanks very much for being here.

JEREMY SCAHILL, AUTHOR, “BLACKWATER”: It‘s good to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Stealing weapons, unauthorized carrying of weapons, shooting civilians, drinking, shooting each other, fraud, tax evasion—am I missing anything else in terms of what Blackwater has been accused of in Afghanistan now?

SCAHILL: You‘re describing a perfect resume for employment with Blackwater.You know, Rachel, I actually like the show “South Park” and what happens on every episode of “South Park” is that poor little Kenny, one of the characters on the show, dies in every episode and sometimes, Eric Cartman kills him.

Well, in Afghanistan, when Eric Cartman, i.e., a Blackwater employee, signs out 200 weapons and then they kill innocent Afghan civilians with them, they don‘t come back the next episode. Afghanistan is not “South Park.”

And what we saw today at this hearing is just the tip of the iceberg of what Blackwater has been doing, running this criminal enterprise around the world.

In Afghanistan, they set up this shell company Paravant in collaboration with a mammoth war giant Raytheon, which held the prime contract for this. And they set up this contract to try to hide the fact that the Pentagon was once again hiring Blackwater, this firm that‘s been under investigation by practically every federal entity in the United States. It‘s a shell company that was used to essentially defraud the government by convincing the Army that Blackwater was not getting the contract, but this company Paravant.

As was pointed out in the hearing today, Paravant represented in its contract documents that it had years of experience. Paravant hadn‘t even existed for a few months when they got that contract to work in Afghanistan.

But I have to say, Rachel, that we‘re talking about very small details in a much larger picture that has Blackwater as the tip of the sphere in assassination programs and involved with all sorts of other dirty deeds on behalf of U.S. government and other corporations.

MADDOW: Jeremy, what do you think is the most serious of these new charges that have been leveled against the company? I mean, it seems at least politically notable to me that the company is being exposed for having—we‘re learning about the criminal history—


MADDOW: -- and the history of incompetence and misconduct among the people that Blackwater is hiring. It seems important because they‘ve had this reputation that they hire only very elite people. That seems to be over now.

SCAHILL: Right. I mean, two of the guys that have been indicted now on manslaughter charges in the United States for killing two Afghan civilians, it‘s been revealed that they—one of them had gone AWOL from the military, had tested positive for cocaine. Another had been on the “do not deploy” list and Blackwater then transferred him over to Paravant, this shell company, so that he could be redeployed to Afghanistan.

So, I think that when you take the combination of the fact that Blackwater is essentially lying to the U.S. military, is in possession of hundreds of illicit weapons, is killing Afghan civilians, and is over all endangering the lives of U.S. forces there through their misconduct, what you have is a very lethal cocktail.

And the fact that the Obama administration is now leaning toward giving Blackwater not a multimillion dollar contract, Rachel, but $1 billion dollar contract to train the Afghan national police, I think should sound emergency warning bells for subpoenas to be issued to Eric Prince and other Blackwater executives to go in front of Congress and answer for all the crimes their personnel committed.

MADDOW: Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill with “The Nation”—Jeremy, thanks for attending the hearing today so you could report on it with us. Thanks for being on the show tonight. Appreciate your time.

SCAHILL: Thank you, Rachel.

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