Volume 13 Nr. 23, Issue 191
Me.... Blackwaterize Me...
saw the United States as an "asylum for mankind." Sadly,
under the political and social dominance of the Social Darwinists,
America has become more of an "asylum for the insane".
Torture, state-sponsored terrorism, illegal wars, flagrant disregard
for international law, tax decreases for the wealthy, funding cuts
for social safety net programs, government endorsed racism, and
diasporas in the aftermath of natural disasters are but a few
examples of the handiwork of the wealthy elite as they create a
gross perversion of Paine's vision of the US. Not to worry though.
America’s patrician class now has its own private armies to
protect its gold from the proletariat they so graciously tolerate.
Recently, a company called Blackwater Lodge and Training Center,
Inc. ("Blackwater") unleashed some attorneys on me for an
editorial I published on Thomas Paine's Corner (my blog). The
article was by another writer and I had published it under Fair Use
since my blog generates no revenue. Blackwater's legal
representatives threatened me with a libel suit and demanded that I
depublish the article because it contained factual inaccuracies.
After some research I agreed with them and removed the article from Thomas
Paine's Corner. However, in the course of my research, I made
some startling discoveries about the corporate mercenaries of
Blackwater and their disturbing relationship with the US government,
which clearly illustrates the threat America’s parasitic
aristocracy poses to the poor, working and middle class of the
Martial law? Here?
As some have written and conjectured, the Posse Comitatus Act
(passed by Congress during Reconstruction to prevent the government
from using the military to enforce civilian law) is in serious
jeopardy of going the way of the dinosaurs. Signs of ill portent for
the Act are its statutory rather than Constitutional nature (leaving
it much more vulnerable to legislative changes), the federal
government's use of the military to fight the "War on
Drugs" along America's borders, the precedent set by the
deployment of Blackwater's military proxies in New Orleans, and the
Bush Regime's repeated statement of its intention to rely heavily
upon the military in times of domestic crisis (i.e. during future
hurricanes, a potential outbreak of Avian Flu). Unfortunately, Posse
Comitatus affords the American public about as much protection from
martial law (at the whim of our deranged president) as the levees
provided New Orleans from the ravages of Katrina.
Tell me sweet little lies
In a time that is roughly comparable to that of the Gilded Age,
corporations and the wealthy elite in the United States revel in
their virtually unparalleled power and wealth. Labor unions, whose
membership peaked at 35% of the hourly wage force in the 1950's, now
comprise less than 10% of the US work force. The wealth gap
continues to widen to devastating proportions as the middle class
slowly disappears. Statistically, unemployment is relatively low,
but many of those who are working are under-employed or working
multiple jobs just to make ends meet. As the wealthy elite continue
to tighten the screws by raising regressive taxes and lowering
progressive taxes, lowering wages and benefits for the working
class, off-shoring jobs, and cutting social programs, the threat of
riots and social unrest becomes real. Hence the Bush Regime's moves
to lay the foundation for declaring martial law and the rising
fortunes of companies providing private military forces, like
Blackwater provides an interesting solution to the Bush Regime’s
dilemma in satiating its desire to employ martial law covertly.
Despite their Social Darwinism, America’s leaders prefer to
maintain the illusion of "democracy and freedom" to keep
the masses pacified. Just as they did in New Orleans, the federal
government can now utilize the paramilitary employees of a company
such as Blackwater to replace the overt presence of the US military.
Rumsfeld, Chertoff, and company demonstrated that they can deploy a
domestic military presence “under the radar”, enabling them to
side-step potential public backlash and legal challenges.
Their reach is global and they are not your average
Here is what Blackwater has to say about itself on its Website at http://www.blackwaterusa.com/:
We have established a global presence and provide training and
operational solutions for the 21st century in support of security
and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere.
Blackwater's global presence includes Iraq, where the murder of four
of their employees triggered the US military's vengeful attack on
Fallujah in which it committed heinous war crimes and atrocities
against hundreds of Iraqi civilians. Why the four Blackwater
contractors were near Fallujah the day of their deaths remains
unclear. The mainstream media, Blackwater and the US government
claim that they were on security detail protecting a food delivery.
However, some suggest that the claims of protecting a food caravan
were a ruse to cover the fact that Blackwater employees were
completing a military operation. While the facts remain unclear, it
is certain that the mainstream media's portrayal of the Blackwater
victims as "civilian contractors" was significantly
According to the Revolutionary Worker (http://rwor.org/a/1236/blackwater.htm):
Soon after the four U.S. "civilian contractors" died
in Fallujah, it became obvious they weren't "civilians" at
all. All four were trained commandos--at least three had years of
experience in elite U.S. military units. They were working for the
private mercenary army called "Blackwater USA." All were
heavily armed. One carried a Department of Defense ID card.
Revolutionary Worker also indicated:
Increasingly, however, the main work of Blackwater has been
deploying its own mercenary army-- recruited from elite U.S.
military forces (especially from Navy SEALS and Marine Recon), SWAT
police forces, and international "soldiers of fortune." In
February it started training former Chilean commandos--some of whom
served under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet--for use in Iraq.
In August 2003, Blackwater was awarded a $21 million contract
to supply security guards and two helicopters for Paul Bremer III,
head of the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Other Blackwater operations in
Iraq are merely described as full protective teams "for any
In light of the International Convention Against the Recruitment,
Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries of 1989, the US military
and Blackwater are careful to frame Blackwater's mission in Iraq as
security-related, but many of their employees are former military
special ops, often heavily armed and working in dangerous combat
areas. One would be foolish to believe that they would not become
embroiled in combat, and once they do, the question becomes, “under
the Geneva Convention, are they considered to be civilians or
soldiers?” One particular danger to Iraqi civilians is that
Blackwater "security" personnel are not subject to the
Uniform Code of Military Justice, so if they do commit a crime,
there is very little accountability. In the past, US mercenaries
committing serious crimes while on assignment in foreign nations
simply lost their jobs as punishment. US military and civilian
courts lacked the jurisdiction, will, or capacity to prosecute them.
In 2000, the US Congress passed the Military Extraterritorial
Jurisdiction Act to provide a means for punishing civilian (and
perhaps mercenary) personnel assigned to the military for committing
crimes in foreign nations. Unfortunately, this law has yet to make
Business as usual: rewards for the elites and risks for the rest
Blackwater offers several advantages to the Bush Regime in its
imperialist endeavors. The military can lower "body
counts" by employing more private contractors and fewer
military personnel. Forces provided by Blackwater are less subject
to Congressional oversight and public scrutiny than the conventional
military. The availability of "guns for hire" negates the
need for a highly unpopular draft and helps fill in gaps left by
military recruitment shortages. As far back as May of 2004, the
number of employees deployed to Iraq by private security firms,
including Blackwater, was 20,000.
20,000 is a very significant number. The US government is relying
heavily on private corporations like Blackwater, which demonstrates
the Bush Regime's fetish with privatization (to benefit the wealthy
and corporations) even extends to military operations. Unfortunately
for the American people, as is true with most privatization schemes,
the cost is high to the poor and working class. A typical Blackwater
contract soldier reportedly makes six figures per year. Risking
their lives side by side with people making five times their salary
is tough on the morale of US troops. The lure of higher salaries
naturally leads to a drain of talent from the US military,
particularly in special ops. While the US needs to end its imperial
conquest in Iraq and scale its military down significantly, we still
need a standing army (which is accountable to the representatives of
the people) of qualified, well-equipped individuals to provide for
the national defense. Bypassing oversight by Congress by employing
private warriors, the Bush Regime is increasing its opportunities to
violate the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution it so
loathes. At the same time, it exposes the American people to the
dangers of the fickle loyalties of avaricious corporations and their
Since it began its involvement in the Bush Regime's "War on
Terror”, Blackwater has been the defendant in at least two
lawsuits. Family members of the four Blackwater employees killed in
Fallujah are pursuing legal action against Blackwater for failure to
properly equip its employees. Blackwater and its aviation subsidiary
also face litigation stemming from the deaths of three US soldiers
killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan.
Read the following written by Kristin Collins at http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12400
and draw your own conclusions about our “friends” at Blackwater:
According to the suit, the plane lacked even the most basic
safety equipment. It had no global positioning system or radar. Its
crew did not wear oxygen masks. And its two pilots, who had been in
Afghanistan only two weeks and had never flown the route before,
failed to take the basic step of filing a flight plan, leading to a
delay in finding the wreckage.
That delay could have been fatal for Miller, who apparently
survived the crash. When his body was found, it was clear he had
gotten out of the wreckage, smoked a cigarette, pulled out a
sleeping bag and tried to find shelter, said Robert Spohrer, a
Florida lawyer who is representing the families.
"These contractors are certainly in a position to make a
lot of money from the government," said Jeanette McMahon, whose
husband, Michael, died in the crash. "But they have to take
their jobs as seriously as the military."
Blackwater officials said Monday they had nothing to do with
the doomed flight.
The company's lawyer, Jonathan Stern of Washington, said in a
statement that the government contracted with Presidential Airways
of Florida, not Blackwater, to transport troops and cargo in and
But the company's Web site says Presidential Airways is part
of Blackwater's aviation services.
As you contemplate Blackwater and its relationship with the US
government, consider the inherent danger and ethical conflicts
involved in using public funds to engage a private corporation
(which exists to generate profit) to supplement (or perhaps to
supplant) the military in its role to "provide for the
common defence". Alarming issues leap to mind like a
panther springing upon its prey.
More frightening still, the Social Darwinists sitting atop the food
chain in the wealthiest, most powerful nation in humanity’s
history now have access to their own paramilitary force. They can
unleash their private army on the "unfittest" when the
need arises, whether it be within America's borders or otherwise.
New Orleans is a prime example. 150 highly trained Blackwater
quasi-military professionals openly armed with assault weapons
descended on a tragedy-stricken city. As hurricane victims taking
necessities were called "looters" and shoot to kill orders
were in effect, those who value property over people saw to it that
their interests were well-protected. Thankfully, Blackwater was
there to protect the patrician class from the "savages"
from the Lower Ninth Ward who had the audacity to attempt survival.
Blackwater is one of many symptoms of a very sick America. Thomas
Paine would feel deeply ashamed of what has become of the nation he
helped forge with his powerful writing.
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in
liberal arts. He works as a loan counselor in the transportation
industry, and is a husband with three sons. His affiliations include
Amnesty International and the ACLU. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.