Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blackwaters Run Deep: New Questions On America's Favorite Security Contractor

The more things change the more they stay the same, and that's downright scary when it comes to Blackwater Worldwide.

If you’re under the impression that this most right-wing of defense contractors has been laying low since its goons mowed down 17 Iraqis last September, you would be wrong.

Despite the outcry, Condoleezza Rice's State Department dutifully renewed Blackwater's contract to guard diplomats in the war zone and the North Carolina-based company has been hard at work burnishing its stateside credentials.

Eric Prince, Blackwater's chairman, former Navy SEAL and messianic right-winger with close White House and Pentagon ties, has been tight lipped about his company's plans, but they obviously include expanding its already major presence as a trainer of military personnel and private contractors on the U.S.-Mexico border in Southern California.

Blackwater last month received a permit for a training facility for Navy personnel in south San Diego after abandoning its controversial proposal to build a larger one elsewhere in the area. The site will have a shooting range, a simulated Navy ship and classrooms, but the city’s Development Services Department granted the permit without public hearings so the project is on hold.

An argument can be made that firms like Blackwater are needed in this day and age, but as has been the case in so many other areas, the Bush administration has taken the involvement of private contractors in the business of war to extremes.

Blackwater alone has billed taxpayers over $1 billion for its work in Iraq and much of what it does was once and should still be the domain of Military Police units. (Think about all those M*A*S*H episodes when Hawkeye and Trapper were pounced on by MPs.).

The bigger problem with Blackwater is that it's nefarious.

It determinedly lies and misleads and when caught out asserts that it is not merely above the law but is a law unto itself. As it is, Blackwater went out of its way to hide its identity in the case of the San Diego facility by filing for a permit under the name of a subcontractor.

Okay, so Blackwater doesn't rent out pony rides for kids' birthday parties. A reasonable amount of circumspection and secrecy comes with its territory. But there is a cottage industry of sane people, along with some wingnuts, who believe that Blackwater is in cahoots with Uncle Sam to train local security forces should martial law ever be declared, as well as other nefarious activities.

I'm not buying, but neither am I not buying.

1 comment:

slag said...

Agreed. The potential for abuse here is extreme. And funneling tax dollars toward corporations charged with public security is dangerous. Especially given some of the things they've done in Iraq.