Wednesday, August 5, 2009

it just gets worse

Stop whatever you're doing, go over to the Nation's site and read this now. Jeremy Scahill reminds us why print journalism is not dead and is vital to democracy. Ready? Let's go:
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."
In her wildest, most paranoid dreams Naomi Klein would never venture to put this kind of story on the page because it would simply not be credible. Klein argues that the privatization of government services in the pursuit of efficiency is an open invitation to, at best, the placement of profits over people; at worse, apparently, it means funding neo-Christian Crusades on the taxpayer's dime.
Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."
Former President George W. Bush, October 17, 2007:
I will tell you, though, that a firm like Blackwater provides a valuable service. They protect people’s lives. And I appreciate the sacrifice and the service that the Blackwater employees have made.
From Scahill's report:
Among the additional allegations [...] is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."
Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"
Many of these allegations are yet to be proven, and there will be time to ruminate further on what the implications of these items (if true) are for representative democracy, the rule of law, the separation of church and state, and the basic competence of those in government charged with the defense of this country. I'm sure we'll do that soon.

But for now, let's start the clock on how long it takes for this story to recede into the background as we go back to arguing over whether or not the President of the United States is really an American citizen.

It's absurd. Even Kissinger wouldn't have dared fund a bunch of murderous clowns like Blackwater on U.S. soil.

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