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Jeremy Scahill on Soldiers of Fortune

Posted on Mar 30, 2007

The writer speaks with Truthdig about his new book, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” privatization in America and abroad, and our dysfunctional democracy.


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    James Harris: This is Truthdig. James Harris here with Josh Scheer on the other side.  We have author, writer and journalist Jeremy Scahill on the phone. Before we get into the book, how are you?

    Jeremy Scahill: Good, it’s good to be with you and with Truthdig.


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    Harris: All right, you’ve written a new text, [on] Blackwater USA, and we’ve been reading some of the reviews.  Some good, obviously, and some bad. I read the bad stuff, but I’d like to know what your intentions were in writing this book—what drove you.

    Scahill: I’ve spent many years going in and out of Iraq.  I first went to Iraq in late 1998 when the Clinton administration was gearing up to attack the country, and indeed President Clinton bombed Iraq for four days in December of 1998. And that was my first visit to the country, and I went in and out of Iraq many times between then and 2003.  And I actually spent a fair bit of time in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. And so, on the morning of March 31st, 2004, four men identified as civilian contractors were ambushed and killed in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, and then the Bush administration responded with this merciless revenge attack, laid siege to the city, killed hundreds of people, displaced tens of thousands of others. I started to investigate: Who were those guys who got killed in Fallujah? Whose lives were so valuable that the Bush administration felt it was necessary to go in and essentially wipe out an entire city?  And that began a several-year process of investigating the company Blackwater USA.

    Josh Scheer: And some of the background information I was reading, it talked about the USS Cole bombing and that was their first big government contract and that’s what kind of led us to them now. Can you give us a brief history of this company and ... you talk about who their founder is and his support for this president. ... How did you guys cover that in the book?

    Scahill: Blackwater USA was founded by a man named Eric Prince. And Eric Prince is ... currently in his late 30s, but at the time of founding Blackwater in 1996 he was believed to be the wealthiest person that had ever enlisted in the U.S. Navy SEALs, which is widely considered to be the most elite force within the U.S. military. And Eric Prince came from a very conservative evangelical Christian family in the state of Michigan.  His father was a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps businessman who started a very successful auto parts manufacturing business called Prince Manufacturing. And what the company was best known for was inventing the now ubiquitous lighted sun visor.  Any time you’re in your car and you pull down that visor and it lights up, that’s Eric Prince’s family that invented that. So this company was very successful throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and really, young Eric Prince watched as his father used his very successful business as a cash-generating machine to fund the rise of the Republican revolution in 1994 that brought Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America to power. To give the kick-start money to Gary Bauer to start his group, the Family Research Council. They were heavy funders of James Dobson and Focus on the Family. And so young Eric Prince grew up in this family that was very strict Calvinist in their religion and then real free-market-gospel followers. And so he saw this sort of model from his father, and that really has been the model that he has picked up and ran with as he’s built up his Blackwater empire.

    Scheer: I was reading a fact that was kind of shocking ... one in every 60 soldiers in the first gulf war was a contractor. And in this war, it’s one to one. You know, what have you noticed, I mean is this war unique? Is this the most contractors we’ve ever used?  How do you see these contractors, and what’s their role in Iraq that we’re seeing today?  And in modern warfare in general?

    Scahill: The Bush administration came to power with the most radical privatization agenda in U.S. history, and we see it in our schools, we see it in prisons, we see it in healthcare, we see it in local law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement as well. And now with the so-called war on terror and the occupation of Iraq, we’ve seen the most militant privatization agenda sort of unfold before our eyes.  Donald Rumsfeld, on September 10th, 2001, gave one of his first major addresses at the Pentagon, and he laid out a plan for a wholesale sort of overhaul of how the U.S. would wage its wars. And he talked about a small-footprint approach and the use of the private sector, and at one point Rumsfeld said because governments can’t die, we need to find other incentives for bureaucracy to adapt and improve. And of course this was one day before this sort of new Pearl Harbor moment happened on September 11th and all of a sudden Rumsfeld and Cheney get this blank canvas on which to paint their privatization dreams. And so what we’ve seen is as tanks rolled in, in March of 2003, to Iraq, they brought with them the largest army of private war contractors ever deployed.  Now, as you say, there’s some 100,000 contractors—I actually think there are probably more than that. That’s a strangely round number. But the fact of the matter is that we know from internal government audits that were done on the Iraq occupation that there are some 48,000 employees of private mercenary companies operating in Iraq right now.  And what these companies do is they give the Bush administration extraordinary political cover.  Their deaths don’t get counted, their injuries don’t get counted, their crimes don’t get reported, they don’t get investigated, they don’t get prosecuted.  The fact of the matter is that with 100,000-plus contractors in Iraq, there’s only been one indictment of a contractor for a crime or violation committed in Iraq.  And that contractor wasn’t even a mercenary contractor.  It was a private contractor doing support work for the U.S. military.  So what we see is a sort of revolving door. The mercenaries provide the Bush administration with the ability to bloat the occupation forces—effectively double the number of occupation personnel on the ground—and then in turn the Bush administration has given them almost total free-for-all environment where there’s no accountability, there’s no oversight, there’s no effective laws governing their presence there. And it’s interesting that Blackwater USA and its executives are heavy funders of the campaigns of President Bush and his Republican allies, and that these are the very individuals that have essentially created a Wild West environment for these contractors in Iraq.

    Scheer: With the contractors, though, I feel some sort of sympathy. Not ... obviously [for] the Prince family, but with the guys on the ground because these guys were once military or law enforcement. ... What would you say to that? You know ... when a helicopter goes down and four guys who were contractors die, I feel sympathy the same way I would if we lose one of our own soldiers. ... Do you feel like that same kind of sympathy? ...

    Scahill: Well, I think that there are different types of motivations at play here.  On the one hand, I’ve gotten to know some of the families of Blackwater contractors that have died in Iraq.  And when you talk to those families and you say, you know, what did you think was going on when your son went over there, or your husband went over there? These people all believed that their loved ones were extending their patriotic duty to defend their country. They believed that what they were doing for Blackwater was what they had done as active-duty U.S. military personnel.  And so their motives in going over to Iraq, some of these guys, was simply to continue serving their country, and that’s how they viewed it.  And a lot of these guys are loyal Republicans and they believed in the Iraq war and so they felt that they were doing their part to defend their country.  But the flip side of it is you also have guys who are just straight-up thugs who go over there—they’re soldiers of fortune, you know, they’re making six, seven times what a regular U.S. soldier is making. They have much better equipment, much better body armor and they’re simply in it for a buck. And I think that those are the guys that we really have to watch, because ... we’re essentially privatizing the war to forces over which there’s no effective system of accountability. So yes, these guys are over there in the most violent and volatile country in the world.  But the fact of the matter is that they have a choice on whether or not they want to be going over there, and they’re getting paid very well for doing it. The soldiers that Bush sends over there as cannon fodder don’t have a choice in the matter. You got guys that signed up to stop floods in the state of Pennsylvania [who] all a sudden find themselves in the middle of Baquba. That’s not [what] they signed up in the National Guard for.  So, I think we do have to draw a line between the mercenaries and the active-duty soldiers there, in terms of how much sympathy we extend to them.

    Scheer: No, and I understand that point of view, but when ... people that I’ve talked to ... go and say it is a volunteer Army and we know with stop loss and what you talked about with the National Guard sent over ... for maybe the next 20 or 30 years. But with these contractors, some of them, they went over there with good intentions and they’re doing such a harried job, it’s just such a confusing time. ...

    Scahill: I think that the point you’re making, though, we have to break it down a little more and I think it depends on the category that an individual falls into. As I said, I know personally the families of guys that have died over there and I’ve done extensive research into their backgrounds, the kinds of people that they are, talked to their friends, and the fact of the matter is that a good part of these guys are probably guys who say, “I believe in defending my country and so I want to go over there.” Now I personally think that there’s nothing, there’s no defense of the United States happening in Iraq right now.  This is an offensive aggressive war—but they believe it.  And in going over there, their motives are true to what they believe.  But I also think that there are a tremendous number of these guys who say, “Hey, I want to make a thousand bucks a day, tax free. I’ll go over there for two months and I’ll come back and I’ll live off that fat for the next year. And that’s problematic when you give people an incentive that’s monetary to go and fight a war, that’s no longer about defending the nation-state. That’s private profit motive for being engaged in a brutal, bloody, offensive war.

    Scheer: Now, could we be in this war without the contractors? I mean, could we continue this war without them, because—.

    Scahill: No.

    Scheer: —Because it seems like there’s so many of these guys. They’re really doing a lot of the work that ... our regular soldiers would do, right?

    Scahill: Let me tell you about ... what Blackwater is doing in Iraq; see, a lot of people don’t understand the role that Blackwater is playing in Iraq. Blackwater is largely not working for the U.S. military in Iraq. Blackwater has been paid $750 million, three-quarters of $1 billion, by the U.S. State Department alone, since June of 2004.  And what Blackwater does is it guards the senior U.S. officials in Iraq. It guards Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, it guards State Department officials, it’s guarded 90 congressional delegations, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And so what the U.S. has done is to outsource what some would argue is one of the most mission-critical operations in Iraq: The protection of the senior U.S. officials on the ground in Iraq. So Blackwater really is at the front lines of protecting the most hated people in Iraq, and the fact that the U.S. sends that into the private sector speaks volumes to the faith that the administration or lack of faith that the administration apparently has in the active-duty U.S. military. But what contractors also do is they take away, they chisel away at the democratic process in this country because if you can deploy 100,000 contractors, that’s 100,000 soldiers you don’t have to convince to enlist in your military. That’s 100,000 soldiers whose deaths aren’t going to be counted in the official toll. And what I think is one of the most disturbing realities of this privatized war is that an adventurous president like Bush can simply just purchase soldiers to wage these wars. You no longer have to go through the Congress, you no longer have to try to convince young people in this country to join the military in the same kinds of numbers. You can hire troops from the United States, Chile, Columbia, Bulgaria, Honduras, Nicaragua, you name it. It’s a total subversion of what should be a necessary resistance to offensive wars.

    Harris: But Jeremy, due respect, that’s speculative. Half of what you just said was speculation. What’s the alternative for furthering the fight against terror? You may say “go home,” but that’s a whole different argument. If we recognize that we are a nation built on war—we come across a conflict every 10 years or so.  It’s ... our MO. So how do we do this without privatization?

    Scahill: Well, I would totally reject you saying that what I was saying wasn’t grounded in fact. The fact of the matter is that the Iraq occupation is an aggressive offensive war that would not be possible without the use of private contractors. That’s explicitly what I’m talking about. And the fact of the matter is that now a majority of the people in this country oppose the war. A majority of the world opposes the war and the occupation of Iraq. And without these privatized mercenaries running around Iraq, the Bush administration would have a very difficult time maintaining its occupation of Iraq, its partial occupation of Afghanistan, now its aggressive posturing towards Iran. These guys have changed the face of war-making, and I think it’s a very ominous development.

    Scheer: I have to say ... the fact is in the first gulf war, it was justified—and that’s why the U.N. came in. That’s why 60 or more countries came in and gave troops. [Editor’s note: Actually, roughly 30 countries.] With this war, it’s not justified. We don’t need private contractors in other wars, because if the war is justified enough, other countries will come and help and that’s kind of the idea of countries coming together, right? ...

    Harris: From your standpoint, is it about furthering the evidence against Bush and this war, or is it about doing something about the fact that we are privatizing most of what we do? This is not only true in Iraq. This is true for insurance, this is true for social services, this is becoming a part of our American culture. So, as opposed to privatizing, how do we governmentize these kinds of issues?

    Scahill: Let me give you an example. The fact is that the Bush administration failed to build a coalition of willing nations to operate in Iraq. Yes, they had some nations that gave them a few hundred troops here and there and the British had 10,000 troops. But the reality was that they were unable, as Josh was just saying, to build a coalition of nations as they did in the so-called Gulf War. So what we’ve found is that the way that the Bush administration has internationalized its presence in Iraq is to recruit, through private companies, soldiers and other contractors from third countries to go and deploy in Iraq. Take the case of Chile, for instance. The nation of Chile—92 percent of the population was against the Iraq war. Chile was on the Security Council at the time it went up for a vote and was against the Iraq war. And yet Blackwater and other companies went into Chile, hired up hundreds of their soldiers and deployed them in Iraq as part of the so-called coalition of the willing. Take the case of Honduras. They pulled their troops out of Iraq in 2005. Another U.S. mercenary company went into Honduras and hired those exact soldiers and redeployed them to Iraq. So as we talk about the ramifications of privatization in warfare, we have to look at the fact that not only is the democratic process in this country being subverted by it, but the democratic processes in other countries are being subverted by it. It’s a total, sort of, banging at the bottom of nation-state status. They’re really chiseling away at not only our democracy but the democratic processes in other countries. How dare the Bush administration deploy troops from countries that have said “we won’t join your coalition of the willing”? That, to me, is an extraordinary development in this history.

    Harris: You’re saying that they are tampering with our democracy. That is the kind of destructiveness and destructive attitude that I think has defined this administration. What’s the next step? What do you hope to see happen after your book does well?

    Scahill: Well, I think there are a couple things that I’ve tried to do. First of all, the book is long. I didn’t expect it to be as long as it is. It’s about 380 pages, and then, if you count, there’s also about 2,000 footnotes in the book. And one of the things I tried to do with the book, also, is to tell an alternative history of the war in Iraq. Alternative to what we’ve read in the major papers in this country. So, for instance, I tell the history of the city of Fallujah. I get deeply into the background people like Paul Bremmer and John Negroponte and the various individuals that run the Blackwater company. And what I think is the key point right now is that we need to start seriously looking in this country at the privatization of war as part of the bigger privatization agenda. Look at the prison system in this country right now.  Not only do we have private corporations running prisons, but we also have faith-based prisons. One of Eric Prince’s, the founder of Blackwater, one of his close political allies, Chuck Colson, was Nixon’s hatchet man.  One of the first people that went to jail for the Watergate conspiracy. Chuck Colson has now reinvented himself as this evangelical leader. He runs a faith-based prison in Sugar Land, Texas, the former district of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. And he runs the lives of 200 prisoners and they are running it as a Christian missionary operation. And Chuck Colson speaks openly about how we need to bring the Christian word into the prisons to battle the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in prisons. And so we see it in the prisons, we see it in law enforcement. Right now in this country there are more private law enforcement agents than there are official law enforcement agents. That’s incredible! That should disturb people.  Because it’s not just about “is the private sector more efficient than the government?” It’s about accountability and oversight. Where are the laws that govern these privatized forces? We’ve seen that in Iraq there’s no laws that govern them, and in a way it’s the same at home here. If your kid gets killed by a private security guard outside of a Best Buy, what happens? How do you get justice for your son? I mean, I have a friend whose son was killed by a security guard. He’s gotten nowhere with it. What laws govern these people?

    Harris: Do you think it’s apathy? This is public information. Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman—pick a liberal journalist. They’ve all talked about the privatization and how it is overtaking our American citizenship. Jeremy, I’d be interested to know, what do you think has us so paralyzed that we’re not responding? We’re not up in arms about this, as I think we should be.

    Scahill: Well, I think you’re cutting at something really important here. I do agree with you that a lot of this stuff is in the public sphere, but I don’t think people understand how deep it has cut at this point. I was surprised, I wrote an Op-Ed for the L.A. Times [Jan. 25, 2007] and basically stated a bunch of things that we already know. There are 100,000 contractors in Iraq; the war has been greatly privatized. And I got so much mail from people who said “I had no idea about this,” including from congressional offices. And so I think that as much as we may think that this stuff is in the public sphere, that we may think people know about this, I don’t know that that’s so true. And I think that this is something that’s really going to come back to bite us and is coming back to bite us very fast. And the fact of the matter is that Blackwater is expanding to California. They’re looking to open a new facility in San Diego. They’re expanding to Illinois. They’ve applied for operating licenses in all coastal states in the U.S. Their representatives met recently with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss doing disaster response in California after earthquakes. This is all part of that privatization agenda, and the companies that benefit from it are well-connected companies, and that sort of embodies everything that President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address when he talked about unchecked corporate power with the rise of the military-industrial complex.

    Scheer: Jeremy, I want to ask you about this because, there was the Greenwald movie, [“Iraq For Sale”] about private contractors and there’s CACI. ... They’ve sued now, people with ... blogs, and they’ve gone after, say, Randi Rhodes on Air America, and they’ve gone after these people.  Do you feel safe with going after someone like this? Because they’re connected to military, they seem not to have any oversight. What was your opinion writing this book? When you were at people’s homes and talking to people at the company and doing the research, did you feel like you were in danger? Or that Blackwater might sue you? Or that now you’re a target?

    Scahill: I think all of us as journalists, when you take on powerful people, when you take on powerful corporations, you have to know what you’re getting into. I think the fact of the matter is, when you look at the lawyers that represent Blackwater, it’s almost overwhelming. Their current counsel of record is Kenneth Starr, the man who led the impeachment charge against President Clinton in the 1990s. Their former lawyer was Fred Fielding, who is now Bush’s White House counsel. They have an army of powerful Republican lawyers. And also, the fact of the matter is, this is a mercenary company. These are guns for hire. These are frightening guys. But if I spent too much time wondering about if someone is going to break my kneecaps, or am I going to get sued, I’d be paralyzed. And the fact of the matter is, I believe with all of my heart that these guys need to be exposed, because I do think that it cuts to the very heart of the threats facing not only us in this country and the future of American democracy but people in Iraq, Afghanistan, countries throughout Africa—the mercenaries would love to deploy in Darfur. They’re already going into Somalia. These are life-and-death issues, and I think that if we truly want to be independent journalists, we have to be willing to take risks. And part of that risk of going up against a major war contractor or mercenary company like Blackwater is maybe they’ll sue you, maybe they’ll break your kneecaps.

    Scheer: People want to go out and go home, they read your book, they’re inspired.  Where’s a lot of your research coming from? What can people do if they want to continue exposing companies like Blackwater?

    Scahill: One of the main things that I did, and it was a grueling process, was to file a whole series of Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests. I methodically went through and tried to get every single contract that Blackwater has, with not only the federal government, but I also looked into local governments here in the United States and tried to get a comprehensive picture of the company’s operations. And sometimes I succeeded and got documents and was able to get contracts and other business arrangements that Blackwater has. And I still have many, many FOIA requests that are pending and that are being reviewed and are being checked out by various offices. My researcher who I worked with, a great journalist named Garrett Ordower, he and I interviewed several of the people who were involved with the founding of Blackwater and talked to them extensively about the original vision of the company and what they saw as the problems of the current direction that it’s headed in. I talked to a lot of family members of Blackwater contractors in Iraq and interviewed some Blackwater contractors. Although I have to say that Blackwater as a company refused to grant me any interviews. They thanked me for my interest in the company but said that they would not be able to accommodate my request for interviews. And that’s exactly what happened with Robert Greenwald. He tried very aggressively to get Blackwater to come on the record, and of course they wouldn’t do that. And I also relied heavily on the reporting of some great beat reporters in Blackwater’s backyard. From newspapers like The Virginian Pilot and the Raleigh News & Observer. They’ve done great base reporting on Blackwater, just sort of drumbeat coverage of the company. So a lot of it had to do with getting documents, working the phones, traveling around and talking to people, reading every possible news report that’s ever emerged on the company. So, over the course of months and months, sort of piecing together this portrait of a private army.

    Harris: I encourage all of you out there to have a gander at this text.  [On] Blackwater USA.  In this fight against privatization, there are consequences. And Jeremy in his text scratches the surface. This is Truthdig.

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    By Star-scream, September 19, 2007 at 6:46 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Just FYI for soem fo you. I am actuive duty Air Force, and just wanted to point out than when numbers are counted for how many combatants are in IRAQ, they are right, but what they don’t count is the Air Force and Navy build up around the region as well, so there is probably close to 250,000 troops in Saudi, the UAE, and the Med-Sea.  Also, I looked online to find the number of blackwater “mercenaries” dead online, and can’t find it anywhere. ? I guess that their number of dead doesn’t count towards the overall soldiers number, nor does congress ever speak of them.

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    By Chuck Burns, May 24, 2007 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Much as it hurts me,I will say it: I’m ashamed to be an American, I’m ashamed to be a part of a murderous team that killed over a million innocent people in Iraq for nothing, I’m ashamed that a bunch of murderers can blind us so bad that we can’t see their true motives that are so obvious to the rest of the world. It’s time we wake up & stop them. Mr. Scahill: thank you.

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    By David, April 25, 2007 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment

    “by Billy Delano on 4/25 at 4:02 pm
    My brother was a Marine….. now works for Blackwater.  ‘...the woman said we’re mercenaries, and in the same sentence said we provide protective services for diplomats in Iraq.  Which is all that I’ve done ..... Explain to me how that makes me a mercenary?’
    Remember, those you know nothing about are somebody’s father, brother, or son.”

    The “diplomats” in Iraq that Blackwater is paid to protect are part of an illegal military occupation of a sovereign state, which has killed roughly 700,000 Iraqi civilians since 2003. If our relations with Iraq were at the level of diplomacy, your brother wouldn’t be there. Our “diplomats” are there to support the US-appointed puppet government that is loyal to the occupation rather than to the Iraqi people (who overwhelmingly want the US out now), causing civil warfare and more deaths every day. Our “diplomats” are presently working to secure the prize: the Iraqi oil law, which is a PSA (production sharing agreement) that would pay Iraq a small fraction of the market price while the Anglo-American oil companies take the vast majority of the profits; terms which no Middle East country has ever agreed to. Much of the violence being targeted at political parties and members of parliament is related to the divide between nationalists and those assisting the occupation, and the oil law is the major issue at the moment. Our “diplomats” are there to steal the second largest oil reserve on the planet, against the will of 2/3 of the Iraqi parliament and 95% of the people. That’s robbery, plain & simple, and it wouldn’t be happening without our good ol’ US military and contractors.
    Whether you want to call them mercenaries or not matters little. The truth is, they’re there for profit, as part of an offensive, illegal military occupation. I’d bet that most of them, if they had the guts to really look at the facts and take a stand for what is right, would suddenly be very ashamed to be participants. But instead it’s deny, deny, deny, as they enjoy the great pay.

    Remember, those Iraqis you know nothing about are somebody’s father, brother, or son, or mother, sister, or daughter. All 700,000 of them.

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    By Billy Delano, April 25, 2007 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    My brother was a Marine at Guantanamo Bay for a stint after 9/11, and then served in Iraq for a year.  He now works for Blackwater.  As for “Mercenaries”, I think I’ll let his words sum that up from an email I received from him not long ago when I asked him about it. 
    “...I read one article where the woman said we’re mercenaries, and in the same sentence said we provide protective services for diplomats in Iraq.  Which is all that I’ve done in the seven months I’ve been here. Explain to me how that makes me a mercenary?”
    All you “Christians” should not be so quick to judge these men, and call them harsh names, and especially belittle those who died and chastise them.  Typical religious groups, hypocrits, hypocrits, hypocrits.  Get another hobby other than hate others.  I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind.  Remember, those you know nothing about are somebody’s father, brother, or son.  Thanks.

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    By David, April 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

    Sorry Mike, but it’s you who’s doing the poor reporting.
    Yes, the majority of the contractors in Iraq are in construction, transportation, maintenance, and support services, but the same is true for the regular military. By your argument, you must also attack the mainstream press for reporting that there’s 150,000 US combat troops in Iraq, as most of them are in support positions as well.
    As you know, there’s far more than a “few” armed US contractors in Iraq. In addition to diplomatic and dignitary protection, armed contractors are also engaged in force protection and oil field infrastructure protection, and in numerous other intelligence, training, and protection positions. All told, the number of armed contractors is certainly in the thousands.
    But the essential issue isn’t the exact numbers of armed or unarmed contractors. It’s the principle. The fact is that almost all of the private contractors are doing work that, in US history through the Vietnam era, was done by the military. They are paid replacements, used to fill mainly support and logistics positions, allowing the military to commit a higher percentage of personnel to combat positions than would be otherwise possible. The entire lot of contractors are most definitely part of the military machine, and they are there for the money. Honestly, how many of them would be there if receiving the same pay as their enlisted counterparts? They are mercenaries, whether armed or not.
    The moral implications are innumerable. As was known to any honest and aware person prior to 2003, the WMD and terrorism case against Iraq was purely fabricated, and other attempts to justify the war are even less defensible. The fact that more than a third of the US force in Iraq consists of mercenaries, due to military recruiting difficulties, testifies to the fact that this war was never out of defensive necessity, as is required by our Constitution. The US has no choice but to pay professional soldiers and mercenaries, because otherwise few would volunteer. This is so because we all know, from deep within, that we were never in mortal danger from Iraq (or Afghanistan as well).
    Our society is so conditioned to military interventionism and imperialism that we’ve reached the level of moral bankruptcy and sociopathic delusion. Any individual, or society, that attacks and kills others for any reason other than to defend against an immediate attack is guilty of murder. That is international law, and US law. But in the US psyche, we are no longer bound by the constraints of law, or morality.
    The US now has the capability of war-for-hire, no moral imperative required. What an unconscionable, horrific creation under the guise of liberty and democracy.

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    By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

    #66061 by Mike on 4/24 at 9:13 am: “...What poor and inaccurate reporting! The fact is that the vast majority of contractors in Iraq are not armed but are providing support…”

    Don’t forget that he was also referring to the first Gulf war “ in every 60 soldiers in the first gulf war was a contractor. And in this war, it’s one to one. You know, what have you noticed, I mean is this war unique? Is this the most contractors we’ve ever used…?”

    Yes, most of them are there for support, logistics and re-construction. But ‘private military companies’ are nothing new, either. They certainly have proliferated since 1990 and that was the reason why. They aren’t all there merely as bodyguards for PM Nouri Maliki and his government.

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    By nonsequitor, April 24, 2007 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

    add this to Lefty’s list

    Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
    -George Bernard Shaw-

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    By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

    #65998 by Lefty on 4/24 at 2:15 am: “...Imagine how much more peaceful the world will be when the very last christian, jew and muslim are consumed by evolution….!”

    The USA and its allies are “evolving” towards the zoo!

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    By Mike, April 24, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    What poor and inaccurate reporting! The fact is that the vast majority of contractors in Iraq are not armed but are providing support as carpenters, electricians, transportation ect… The very few contractors that are armed and travel off military installations, perform protective details guarding politicians (state department). This is an undisputable fact. It is amazing to me that the individuals who protect those who attempt to broker a political solution rather than a military one are attacked as the enemy! I have served in Iraq as a soldier as well as trained contractors for the state department protective detail, or in the author’s inflammatory language “mercenaries”. Individuals with and agenda posing as unbiased reporters are dangerous.

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    By nonsequitor, April 23, 2007 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

    come on ‘you think’ start thinking. smile

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    By Douglas Chalmers, April 22, 2007 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

    you think - “ you know each man well enough to call them a mercenary?  How do you know that they are only “in it for a buck”.....”?

    “Sandline International was a private military company based in London, established in the early 1990s. It was involved in conflicts in Papua New Guinea in 1997 (having a contract with the government under the then Prime Minister Julius Chan), in 1998 in Sierra Leone (having a contract with illegally ousted President Kabbah) causing the Sandline affair and in Liberia in 2003 (in a rebel attempt to evict the then-president Charles Taylor near the end of the civil war)......”

    “Sandline was established in the early 1990s to fill a vacuum in the post cold war era…... privately managed by a number of senior ex-military personnel from the UK and US armed forces. This management team is supported by access to a pool of consultants with extensive international commercial and legal expertise. Sandline personnel are highly professional, often former military, police and government employees, recruited from a number of countries…”

    Most of its soldiers (all mercenaries) were actually from Africa. Eventually, they all moved into positions in Aegis or Blackwater.
    See and

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    By cann4ing, April 22, 2007 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

    Me thinks that “you think” is incapable of rational thought.

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    By you think, April 21, 2007 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    All this is your speculation.  You can not say for sure that what you say is exactly true.  You should be ashamed for calling them “thugs”.  Those men are over there to PROTECT!  Also, you do NOT know that the ratio of contractors to soldiers is one to one. You said it yourself ” I actually think there are probably more than that”.  You just THINK you know what you are talking about.  Well, I actually think the ratio of contractors to soldiers is one to a thousand.  Does that make it true?  Also, do you know each man well enough to call them a mercenary?  How do you know that they are only “in it for a buck”?  I think you wrote this book so that you can enjoy some of that “buck”.  You are no different than what you claim the contractors to be.  You are using your speculations of them to sell your book and make a profit.  These men were once a part of the U.S. forces and some still are.  They obviously were not in the U.S. forces for a buck.  They were a part of it because they wanted to serve their country and allow us the freedoms we enjoy today.  They joined to serve and protect.  Protecting is what they continue to do.  I am thankful to those who fight for OUR freedom.

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    By James Yell, April 21, 2007 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    If you wish to know the direction private armies go, just read your pre-WWII German History. They have been focused on disrupting Iraq, but one day they will come home and we will be on the receiving end of a bunch of Fundmentalist sociopaths.

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    By gryphyn, April 20, 2007 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Hiring mercenaries to fight this war allows the Bush Administration to avoid using the draft to continue its failed mission in Iraq.  And Congress’s approval, tacit or otherwise, reeks of hypocrisy.

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    By nonsequitor, April 18, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

    if BW is available to the highest bidder, we’ve got a whole new ballgame. imagine the possiblities.

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    By Eso, April 17, 2007 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

    We do ‘it’ by waiting for the house of cards to collapse. It is only when in touch with such a reality that we can begin to reconstruct. We know that the population of the world has to be reduced from the present 6.3 billion to 2 billion or less. The collapse may or may not take care of the reduction of our numbers. If it does not, then we need to think of how to get there step by step. My guess is that there will be utter chaos. We will need to return to human sacrifice (self-sacrifice, I hope) to create a stay-in-touch-with- reality reality and charisma that will be necessary to knit the remainder of civilization into a whole fabric again. As to what will emerge, it is a hard guess, but one guess is that science will survive. Cloning, rather than reprogramming (rejuvenation by way of stem cells), will put the Self above the ego again—as it used to be before our ego (President Bush is its evidence) went mad.

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    By Douglas Chalmers, April 17, 2007 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

    Harris (at 12.50min): “But Jeremy, due respect, that’s speculative. Half of what you just said was speculation. What’s the alternative for furthering the fight against terror? You may say “go home,” but that’s a whole different argument. If we recognize that we are a nation built on war—we come across a conflict every 10 years or so.  It’s ... our MO. So how do we do this without privatization?”

    From Wikipedia: “Privatization (alternately “denationalization” or “disinvestment”) is the transfer of ownership from the public sector (government) to the private sector (business) .....The term is also sometimes used to refer to government subcontracting a service or function to a private firm….......”

    Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (nickname: “The Iron Lady”) ......former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:-

    “Thatcher’s political and economic philosophy emphasised reduced state intervention, free markets, and entrepreneurialism. Since gaining power, she had experimented in selling off a small nationalised company, the National Freight Company, to its workers, with a surprisingly positive response. After the 1983 election, the Government became bolder and, starting with British Telecom, sold off most of the large utilities which had been in public ownership since the late 1940s. Many people took advantage of share offers, although many sold their shares immediately for a quick profit and therefore the proportion of shares held by individuals rather than institutions did not increase. The policy of privatisation, while anathema to many on the left, has become synonymous with Thatcherism and has also been followed by Tony Blair’s government….....”

    Margaret Thatcher - “Champion of free minds and markets, she helped topple the welfare state and make the world safer for capitalism” -

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    By Douglas Chalmers, April 17, 2007 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

    Quote from where US soldiers in Iraq often post video clips of their tours - this comment relates to their enjoying shooting up a local grocery store:-

    “If you look at who posted the video and my name they are the same. It was Aug 22 2005. I was there, I was the Corpsman who video taped it. Also when we went to the parket after the fight there were 3 males I shot 2 alive and I refused to treat them. I also Shot the male in the white durka durka in the street. The whole video is about 25-35 minutes long, it shows all the “clean up” part and our brass checking to ensure we didnt do anything illegal. So I tried to place the good parts in. And the yelling is cause we are having a good time. Killing “bad guys” is ******* awsome, what a reward to look through your ACOG and see your rounds impact flesh. **** yeah!” Posted Mar-13-2007 by “Tyer82”

    That was how the United States Marine Corps 1/5 Marines (the same regiment as was in Iwo Jima in WW2) in Ramadi disgraced themselves. Search LiveLeak video for “Flanndawg Massacre” - you can click ‘View comments’ at bottom left of main page to see how warped and savage some of these soldiers have become.

    Also see on “Falluja massacre”  and “The US Army’s 2/3 FA colts battle insurgents in Adhamiwa, Iraq” for how the US are the real terrorists in Iraq - and then there are “Humvee Driving In Iraqi Traffic” and “American soldiers crush Iraqi car with tank” for sheer arrogance and criminal irresponsibility!

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    By David, April 14, 2007 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

    It could be argued that this is a positive development. Using mercenaries is more honest, at the least.

    Every war the US has been involved in for more than the past century has been directed by, and for the benefit of, the elite bankers and industrialists (read “A Century of War”, by F. William Engdahl) and thus US troops have been de-facto mercenaries for a long time. Now we should push for the final step toward transparency: removing the government from the situation altogether, and having Exxon-Mobil contract directly with KBR, DynCorp, and Blackwater to wage war. The effect would be that US consumers would then have to pay the full price at the pump for a gallon of gas, including the cost of the robbery and murder to steal it. As it is now, the bulk of the real cost of oil is hidden in our taxes and debts, making it easy to deny the real cost, both in money and in blood.

    If Blackwater sounds like a threat to democracy, then DynCorp should really set off alarms. Take Blackwater, and add control over all of the computer systems for the US Justice Dept, Defense Dept, Energy Dept, the New York Stock Exchange, management of the strategic petroleum reserve, operation of the drug war in Columbia, etc, etc, and throw in some board members shared with Enron and some more cozy relationships with the Bush family, and you have DynCorp.

    Democracy is long gone. The public is just too stupid to know it yet.

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    By TC, April 13, 2007 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

    Down with the Public, up with the Private (i.e., the Corporate):

    The Bush Plan to Abolish America:

    President Bush announced today that he expects to find a congressional sponsor for a bill that would abolish Congress as it is currently known. The Old Congress would be replaced by the New Congress which would consist of two and only two Senators, one from the North and one from the South, and three and only three Representatives — one from the North and one from the South and one from the Middle of the country, to break ties. In the Senate, per tradition, the (full of) Vice President would continue to break any tie between the two new Senators….

    Republican legislators, in the name of cutting government spending, seem to be generally for the plan. In any event, there are rumors that each Congressional seat will be privatized, transformed into independent lobbying corporations. Democrats have said they are inclined to go along with the plan so as not to appear partisan. “Plus,” one leading congressional Democrat concluded, “if the plan fails and the country turns into a total right-wing fascist dictatorship, we will all know who is to blame.” ...

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    By PatrickHenry, April 13, 2007 at 11:07 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    We need to redirect the money being paid these “contractors” and reinstate the draft.

    Americans across all socioeconomic classes would then share in the misdirected follies of the government (Vietnam proved this) especially the affluent, who when their kid comes home in a box will use their “access” to promote immediate change.

    The National guard belongs in the nation for national emergencies not abroad.  Katrina proved this.

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    By mdruss42, April 11, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

    This from PRIVITIZED WAR by Yves Eudes in Le Monde about training exercises for RONIN CONCEPT, The Brits Blackwater…..

    For the future, John Geddes deems that the next big market will be peacekeeping under the aegis of the United Nations: “Private military companies will replace the Blue Helmets; it’s inevitable because the present system does not work. On the one hand, the contingents sent by democratic countries are stuck in political or ethical considerations that paralyze their action. On the other hand, when underdeveloped countries are asked to supply contingents, they don’t send their best troops, far from it.” He has often served alongside Blue Helmets in his long career and asserts that their behavior is everywhere deplorable: “We will be less expensive and more effective. I’m sure a well-equipped little private army could quickly stop the Darfur massacres.” On the ethical plane, private soldiers are no angels, but they’re no worse than soldiers from many countries: “We will fire the bad ones and keep the good ones - which an army can’t do.” And, as long as salaries remain high, they won’t lack for a workforce.

    The only comfort I can see is the knowledge that the rest of the Western world seems to be as stupid as we are…..and will be living in the same Hell we are creating for ourselves….....and maybe will get tired of being treated like herd animals and….


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    By Joe R., April 11, 2007 at 12:21 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Were paying the bill for this, not big business.  They use the private army to steal whatever their after and then the business sells it back to us.  So we get screwed twice.

    What happens when they finish in Iraq?  Do they just go away or do they come after us?  Progressives need to arm themselves too.  Just in case.

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    By Eso, April 10, 2007 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

    Yes, private mercenary armies are dangerous. I am indeed surprised that Bush and his clique have oriented their politics toward an eventual coup de tat. At this point it probably cannot be avoided, because the American public is completely unprepared for it, and so is Congress. This is why I submit that an American Revolution is in the offing sometime in the distant future. Right wing government and right wing religion are old pals, and their alliance is responsible for provokig both the French and Russian revolutions. The critical factor in any future revolution, however, must be the sacrifice factor—not just sacrifice during the events leading up to and during the revolution, but continuing with self-sacrifice ever after. The failure to follow up with self-sacrifice after the French and Russian revolutions lead to the eventual failure of the new formed societies. Not so incidentally, these sacrifices must be in the face of violence, thus, in effect, establishing in the mirror a God with a face that escapes being supernatural as well as atheistic, but projects due reverence toward the Self of all life. I see no other way out of this mess that we all collectively are responsible for.

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    By writeon, April 10, 2007 at 10:30 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    The explosive rise of these private, mecenary armies is disturbing. At the rate they are expanding in ten to twenty years time they could have more front-line, combat troops available than the US army!

    Privitization of the american army is an ominous developement. We should all be very wary and vigilant. Who knows where this might lead in the future? Let’s think about it for a moment. The State has a private, mercenary army at its disposal, that is almost totally uncontrolled or supervized democratically elected representatives. This private army is not under democratic control, it is lavishly funded and its primary loyalty is to its shareholders and the state apparatus that pays its wages. What we are seeing is the development of a new praetorian guard, a private foreign legion, a veritable warrior-class. This is an enormous concentration of military power in private hands which could be used internally in the United States, given the right circumstances. Imagine the ruling-class with its own loyal and private army on american soil!

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    By cann4ing, April 10, 2007 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

    Perhaps the most effective description of the danger posed by Blackwater is that which was provided by Chris Hedges on the cover of Scahill’s book.

    “Should our nation enter a period of instability following another terrorist attack on American soil, an economic collapse, or a series of environmental disasters, the tyranny that groups such as Blackwater impose on others could become the tyranny they impose on us.  The rise of this unchecked mercenary force, as Scahill understands, could pressage the final stage in the collapse of American democracy.”

    Memo to James Harris:  You would do well to actually read and digest some of what an author has to say “before” you undertake to interview them.

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    By Moe Hare, April 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    ”But the flip side of it is you also have guys who are just straight-up thugs who go over there—they’re soldiers of fortune, you know, they’re making six, seven times what a regular U.S. soldier is making. They have much better equipment, much better body armor and they’re simply in it for a buck.”

    The enlisted are earning $20,000 a year, while private contractors earn $150,000—-what does that say about the all-voluntary military?  The Reservists do not even receive healthcare benefits.

    A Privatized military is not accountable—-anything goes; Blackwater was throwing occupants out of their homes in New Orleans. 

    National Service requiring all men and women to serve is a way of engaging everyone, generating political awareness and activism, it would rid us of war profiteers.  A mercenary military force, is incompatible to a democratic system; it disavows the citizenry from participation in patriotic endeavors, and creates a military whose only allegiance is to profit.

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    By felicity, April 7, 2007 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    The potential, perhaps no longer “potential,” threat of private armies/mercenaries in the military/ government mix is the fact that political decisions are being put in the hands of privately owned corporations.

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    By Ernest Canning, April 7, 2007 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Re comment #62599 by T-Rex states, “Blackwater doesn’t fight….Blackwater PROTECTS.”  Say what?

    When I served in a mechanized infantry unit in Vietnam’s Central Highlands one of my platoon’s periodic duties was “convoy protection.”  One APC would take the lead, another bring up the rear and another would be placed near the center of the convoy.  If the convoy came under fire, we “fought.”  Convoy protection was a military task back then, not a job for private mercenaries.  In fact the drivers of the trucks we were guarding were all military back then.

    The four Blackwater mercenaries who were killed, burned and strung up on that bridge in Falluja were providing convoy protection for kitchen supplies that were being transported for the private company, ESS.  Their deaths were so swift that perhaps it would be accurate to say that they did not “fight.”

    On April 4, 2004 Blackwater mercenaries, joined by a single U.S. marine who had been there to install communications equipment, fired into a crowd of Iraqis from the roof of the occupation HQ in Najaf.  As Scahill points out in his book, the source of the incident is in dispute.  The Blackwater mercenaries contend the Iraqis initiated the shooting while others claimed that “the battle began when the forces guarding the occupation headquarters fired percussion rounds from atop the roof as the protesters assembled.”

    Irrespective of “how” it started, the Blackwater mercenaries were engaged in such an extended fire-fight that, by the time reinforcements arrived by way of three Blackwater helicopters, their ammo was down to single digits. 

    Your suggestion that Blackwater doesn’t fight is not only flat out wrong, but demeaning to the Blackwater men who were there.

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    By T-Rex, April 6, 2007 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I am so utterly confused by this Scahill.  Blackwater doesn’t fight—I was there.  Blackwater PROTECTS.  And those guys do it so we, the United States Military, are free to fight.  I can’t speak to all contractors, but Blackwater guys are first rate.

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    By Ernest Canning, April 5, 2007 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Re comment #62155 by John Trask.  Mr. Trask asks, “will we pull out the civilian contractors serving the same duties as the military?”  Your question touches on the need for a comprehensive solution.  There is a bill in Congress, H.R. 1234 (Kucinich) that provides just such a solution.  You can access it at, or you can read the excellent summary provided on this web site by comment #61599 by Louise in response to “Kucinich Blasts Democrats.” 

    Mr. Kucinich proposes an immediate cut-off of all further funds for the war, use of existing funds to extract American forces, and an end to the occupation by closing the permanent military bases we constructed, removing all “contractors” (that includes Blackwater), convening a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq, introducing an international peace keeping force under the auspices of the UN that would move in as U.S. forces are pulling out, ending the privitization of Iraq’s economy and the oil grab—which means restoring Iraq’s economy, its oil and its reconstruction to it’s rightful owners, the Iraqi people—and stabilizing Iraq’s economy by insuring that Iraq does not undergo the devastating effects of structural adjustment loans from the IMF and World Bank.

    When either the administration or Congress talk about $120 billion plus supplementals, they are not really talking about funds to “support the troops”—many of whom have been placed in harm’s way sans adequate body armor courtesy of the hypocritical neocon Scrooges who are more than happy to pinch pennies when it comes to soldiers supplied by America’s working class as it lavishes funds on what dubya refers to as “the haves and the have mores” or his “base.”

    As was noted in a 2004 “Fortune” magazine article, cited by Scahill in his book, “When Halliburton teams working to rebuild oil pipelines first arrived in the country, they had military protection.  But now they’ve had to hire private secruity.  With armored SUVs running more than $100,000 apiece and armed guards earning $1,000 per day, big contractors like Bechtel and Halliburton are spending hunders of millions to protect their employees.  Since the government picks up the tab, ultimately that means fewer dollars for actual reconstruction work.”  Scahill notes that in the case of Blackwater, the per day per man price of its mercenaries runs from $1,500 to $2,000.

    Think about it, all these ostensibly “private” companies, from Bechtel, to KBR to Blackwater represent corporate pigs who feed at the public trough, as the working class stiffs who were cajoled into the military on empty promises of a way out of Wal-Mart are left to take the bullets, returning home psychologically destroyed and often physically disfigured—far to often to face financial ruin as the Bush administration searches for ways to cheat them out of disability pensions and future health care.

    But, hey, as John McCain would say, why focus on the negative?  After all, what is government for if not to enrich the few at the expense of the many?

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    By Beatriz MT. Boza, April 5, 2007 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I born in Chile but I live in Canada for 32 years. No comment.
    Please read the Book Bucarest 187: Patricia
    Verdugo. The police who torture her father
    lived in Toronto Canada ask why, ask why the
    gevernment they give new name etc, etc.
    Now I am going to buy your book, tanks for
    be your self.

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    By Jackie T. Gabel, April 5, 2007 at 12:54 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    When there is a need to execute an operation like 911 (e.g. PNAC’s call for a new Pearl Harbor), an outfit like Blackwater fills the bill: private, secure, highly trained, super hi-tech. operatives who know how to keep their mouths shut and who still have friends on the inside, i.e. moles with access to top secret codes and enough clout to squash potentially damaging investigations that might take the patsies out of play before the job is done. As the spectacle unfolds your BW boys are long gone and the patsies take the fall — classic black-ops/psy-ops — you need the job done, Blackwater delivers — of course, for a price…and you get what you pay for.

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    By Ernest Canning, April 4, 2007 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    As someone who has followed Jeremy Scahill’s exposes on Blackwater at Democracy Now!, in the Los Angeles Times and who is now half-way through Scahill’s exhaustively researched and well-written book, this interview did not add much, though I must say I was appalled by the question posed by James Harris:  “What’s the alternative for furthering the fight against terror?”

    What “fight against terror?”  As a practical matter, the very concept of a “war on terrorism” borders upon a meaningless oxymoron.  As noted by Gen. Wm. Odom (US Army, Ret.), “Terrorism is not an enemy.  It cannot be defeated.  It is a tactic.  It’s about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks….Acts of terror have never brought down liberal democracies.  Acts of parliament have closed a few.”  Yet as a propaganda tool, it is quite effective.  As Nicholas Lehman observed in “The New Yorker,” “War on terror…has entered the language so fully, and framed the way people think about how the United States is reacting to the Sept. 11 attacks, so completely, that the idea of declaring and waging war on terror is not the sole, inevitable, logical consequence of the attacks just isn’t in circulation.”

    From the perspective of the Orwellian sociopaths who invented it, the utility of the phrase “war on terror” lies in the fact that it is a war that cannot be won.  A scant 16 days after 9/11 Don Rumsfeld penned a New York Times op ed telling us not to even think about an “exit strategy.”  Antonia Juhasz astutely notes that this perpetual war envisions an omnipresent “phantom menace” involving “shadowy networks of individuals;” a threat that must be met “anywhere at any time, or everywhere all the time.”

    Thus we now find James Harris buying into the notion that the frightening development of this privatized Praetorian guard must now be accepted as a part of the “fight against terror.”

    There is one aspect of Scahill’s coverage of Blackwater that went unmentioned—the use of heavily armed mercenaries from Blackwater and other companies to patrol the streets of New Orleans, many hired by wealthy, local elites.  While many in the mainstream press observed the Third World-like conditions of African-Americans, stranded in a toxic soup of flood waters, bacteria and petro-chemicals, most overlooked the manner in which Katrina empowered local elites to act like Third World war lords.

    If you can’t see the danger this poses to the very survival of constitutional democracy, Mr. Harris, you are missing the forest for the trees.

    Oh, re comment #61325 by Tony S.  The 100,000 refers to mercenaries.  Scahill’s use of the word “contrator” is a poor choice.  “Contractor” was the word used by the corporate media early on to hide the fact that the four burnt corpses hung on the bridge in Falluja were paid and heavily armed mercenaries.

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    By John Trask, April 4, 2007 at 11:21 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    It is clear that we cannot continue to participate militarily in the internal affairs of Iraq indefinitely. We are currently involved in a debate about the best way to disengage ourselves from combat operations within that country. There are various proposals afoot to withdraw combat troops, now being discussed in Congress by both parties.

    If I understand correctly, Mr. Scahill says the ratio of contractors to U.S. military in Iraq is now one to one.  How many of them are involved in assignments that parallel the military’s roll there?

    My question is, will we also pull out those civilian contractors serving in the same duties as the military? All the current talk makes no mention of them, but if we don’t then we won’t really be withdrawing in a real sense.  Instead we would be effectively continuing to fight in Iraq with an unregulated and purely mercenary army, and this would be, I believe, a troubling direction in which to proceed.

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    By Walter M. Sands, Jr., April 4, 2007 at 9:05 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I could not have said it better.  Thank you Charles Dunbar.  Bush is no doubt the front man “Fool” being used by a very dangerous movement in this country.  Blackwater type armies have no place in our country. Wake up america!
    Jeremy Scahill is sounding a very needed alarm.
    Thanks for your service to our country.

    Walter M. Sands, Jr.

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    By Suntouso, April 4, 2007 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Boys, a Democratic President ok’d the training of all the terrorits in the middle east. Now they want to cry because the Repubicans are doing it. Al Qaeda warriors ( a small force ) defeated a superior Army ( a large force ) in one of their Holy ( Jihad ) about 1000 years ago. They are at it again and they will bring it here. I do not care if all the Pilgrims and their Root brothers are killed, just as long as Native Americans survive. We have survived you and we will survive them.

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    By PEPE, April 4, 2007 at 7:59 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    This is horror!
    And the thought that came to mind is, “What happened to the Ten Commandments?”

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    By Tom.K, April 4, 2007 at 2:36 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Private security Companies are another way of America and it’s allies doing BUSINESS where they aren’t wanted. They provide security, protection for contracted parties wishing to do business in extremely hostile environments for profit.
    These security companies are beyond the rule of law, and I predict in a few years time they will be employed to carry out law enforcement in the USA and abroad
    They were used (Blackwater was…excuse the pun) in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina to provide security for an already overstretched and ill planned emergency network.
    As I read a few post’s here I see comments I’m amused by the ranting of people who
    A)  Have never been to Iraq
    b)  never served in the military
    c)  Don’t understand how despised American’s are outside of America
    People don’t hate American’s because you are “number one” or because you are Americans, people hate America and it’s policies because you assasinate(Chile Sept 11 1972), torture (Soth America Iraq, Cuba), murder(My Lai Vietnam), train and enforce terror on others, purely for financial gain. Freedom…America is the most unfree country I know.
    The only country to be convicted of terrorism is America, by a world court in want to prevent terrorism…stop doing it
    Blackwater is just another extension of America’s need for commercial and capatilist dominance in the market place. Insurance for business not wanted in that potential market place.
    If you want to see Blackwater in action go to this link makes me sick. A good friend was asked to work for Blackwater and he declined…bad operators he called them…not hard to see why. Watch this and you will know why this war can never be one with physcopaths like this pulling triggers.
    This is another war America will lose…pull out from and scratch it’s head and say..“what was that about? why did we do that?”
    War is just another way for American companies to make money, Eisenhower warned against it…I feel so sorry for all those brave soldiers on the ground…they are being truly F$@&cked; over by private industry..for a $

    What did we learn from Vietnam…nothing

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    By JamesR, April 3, 2007 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    In the early 90’s there was quite a push by some of the Militia’s to become the defacto military presence in their areas. Missouri Idaho Washington Montana Utah to name a few. The FBI was in full opposition to them as were most law enforcement agencies. Why is this any different?

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    By Mad As Hell, April 2, 2007 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Comment #61699 by Charles Dunbar
    “... Does Mr. Scahill think these guys are going to take over the US Government? Sounds to me like he has a problem with anyone that is a conservative and also a problem with evangical Christians. I wonder if he has the same problem with fundamental Islam? Probabaly not. “

    Why do “conservatives” and other right-wingers automatically ASSUME that because clear-thinking centrists, left-wingers and liberal have a DEFINITE problem with “evangelical” “Christians” that we therefor don’t have the IDENTICAL problem with fundamentalist Moslems?

    It’s the same old cr@p over and over again.  Mr. Dunbar, I’ll say this as simply as possible: We have the SAME problem with right-wing christo-fascists (like Eric Prince) that we have with the right wing Islamic fundamentalists like Sheik Omar or Osama Bin Laden.  We have no sympathy or liking for them.

    What you don’t “get” is that we see NO DIFFERENCE between the right-wing fundamentalists the Islamic fundamentalists, other than which religion they each want to shove down our throats at the point of a gun.  Neither respects the US Constitution because they somehow “know” what God wants—and it always seems to be to build a society of slaves with the priests and kings on top—just like medieval Europe.

    It’s just that simple sir.  And yes, I DO worry that this president may well declare himself “President For Life”.  He, and the neo-cons have been putting all the pieces in place for years, but ESPECIALLY the last 6 years.  He’s politicized the federal bureacracy, the Justice Dept (that’s what this US Attorneys scandal is about), most of the military (especially all the nutty right-wing Air Force generals—straight of Dr. Strangelove), the Supreme Court (almost), and had, until late January, a TOTALLY tame Congress that let him do it.

    Now, with an unleashed Congress revealing corruption in every corner and under every rock of this administration, real impeachment proceedings could well happen, enough to actually CONVICT Bush and Cheney.

    And all the dreams of Empire and permanent power will collapse.

    But with a private 100,000 man army to act as Praetorian Guard (getting practice in Iran), an SOB like Bush could WELL declare our republic at an end.

    The pieces are in place.  Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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    By MARIAM RUSSELL, April 2, 2007 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
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    Charles Dunbar…..

    If that is the world you think you want to live in, then, if I were you, I would practice sycophancy and really get it perfected, because in your world to come only the powerful ot those useful to the powerful have any exemption from the violence and ugliness, and often, not even the useful remain useful.

    I expect that after a while the Italians longed for trains not quite so johnny-on-the-spot.

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    By MARIAM RUSSELL, April 2, 2007 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
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    Hi, Mad, nice to see you, and you are correct, as usual, so we might want to keep this in mind…....

    How we burned in the prison camps later thinking: What would things have been like if every police operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive? If during periods of mass arrests people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever was at hand? The organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and, not withstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt. - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


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    By Eso, April 2, 2007 at 1:18 am Link to this comment
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    Excellent observation, re Eric Prince as an American fundamentalist Christian warlord. But since we are into ‘globalization’ for the corporate sphere and this is what Prince’s Blackwater appears to be into also, perhaps it is but the first global scale ‘private’ and legal warlord. We should then start thinking that similar private armies can be funded by China, Russia, India, Japan, not to mention the mafia of Albanians, etc. The question is whether supporting a cliques business is enough, since the world is fast moving toward exhaustion of resources and ‘growth’ philosophy has reached its limit.

    Globalized ‘private’ armies for what? Right now Eric Prince is building his on the basis of Christian religion interpreted as spirituality supporting violence. Might not a religion of non-violence emerge, one in which self-sacrifice rather than suicide will have the greater role?

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    By Charles Dunbar, April 2, 2007 at 12:04 am Link to this comment
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    I listened to the interview and read the transcript. I don’t really know or understand what his problem is with private contractors or guns for hire. These guys are not slave labor even the guys that come from Chile. Besides why do we always use “democracy as justification for not liking private contractors. There are bad people in the world, they are here now and have been here since the beginning of time. They will not go away because we get out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Does Mr. Scahill think these guys are going to take over the US Government? Sounds to me like he has a problem with anyone that is a conservative and also a problem with evangical Christians. I wonder if he has the same problem with fundamental Islam? Probabaly not. This is just some more left wing sensationalism against the right. I will agree with him when everyone on the planet lays down their arms and says “can’t we all just get along?” You act like war was invented by the Bush admistration. Gee, I didn’t see you guys around when Kennedy and Johnson were president. Beside that what is the big deal? It’s no wonder these guys have come into existence, they are cost effective; they are not subject to our laws governing soldiers or govt. employees; between our courts and the ACLU its no wonder these types of organizations thrive. Sounds to me like capitalism is working.

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    By Michael, April 1, 2007 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
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    Basically, it comes down to the fact that “Private Security Contractors” (PSC), motivated by $$$, are mercenaries, whereas, “Unlawful Enemy Combatants” (UEC), motivated by ideology, are terrorists condemned to rot in Guantanamo. PSCs are subject to no Congressional oversight, are not accountable to US laws, international laws, nor in-country laws. Sounds rather “unlawful” and hypocritical to me.

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    By Lefty, April 1, 2007 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
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    Blackwater is just a small example of why, as a liberal, I so strongly support a WELL armed citizenry in America!  In fact, I think every American citizen has, not only a right, but a patriotic obligation, to be well armed and prepared to fight as a deterant to a fascist government, like the current administration, as well as fascism scum like Blackwater.

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    By Mad As Hell, April 1, 2007 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment
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    Nobody seems to have picked up on the most obvious and terrifying feature of Blackwater USA:

    Eric Prince is now the first warlord in America.

    He’s no different than the warlords in China in the 20’s, or the warlords in Afghanistan, Asia or Africa now.

    Others will follow with their own private armies and they will soon do battle over the carcass of our beloved nation.

    Like the daimya battling it out in medieval Japan with their armies of mercenary samurai, whom they granted the right to kill anyone anywhere anytime for any reason who was not samurai. They are trying it out in Iraq as they tried it out in New Orleans.

    Will Bush attack Iran this month? Will the backlash from Congress and even his own Republicans cause him to declare martial law, enforced by 100,000 Blackwater stormtroopers?

    The pieces are in place to end The United States of America and replace it with the American Empire, with Mad King George as the first Emperor.

    When we saw “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard II: Die Harder” we thought these military fanatical psychos were utter fiction, or, at worst, a fringe.  Now there’s a private army of 100,000 of them, at the beck and call of an lunatic christo-fascist who thinks Jesus is calling him to wipe the world clean of sinners, blasphemers and heathen.  Gee.  He sounds like Sheik Omar, leader of the Taliban.

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    By dk, April 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment
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    Some b.s. but a lot of good stuff on this web site, kudos to Truthdig for the discussion. Comment #61487 started off so strong, with a great quote from H.L. Mencken, but then slipped into the ozone with that “9/11 was an inside job”, no doubt aliens built Stonehenge too.
    Is it bad enough to compare the current situation to Nazi Germany? No, to make that claim diminshes the horror of the Third Reich - but we’ve got to stay vocal and vigilant to prevent the power-mad neo-cons from continuing to lead us in that direction.
    My 2 cents - we blur the discussion when we suggest privatisation or capitalism causes the problem. Free markets and competition just allow wealth creation - don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater - pursuit of income is not the same as the real evil which is pursuit of power and domination over others. Wealth is not finite - it’s not a zero-sum game like Marxist-Leninist view it. The problem is the extremism of Bush/Cheney creates extreme responses. Cheney and his like are evil because they love power and are to kill thousands in their pursuit of power for power’s sake - their dream is to force a “Democracy in the heart of Islam” sort of utopia - to pacify the savages with more permanent bases in the Middle East and to feed our addiction to oil. The key threats to the future of America, are 1)the loss of transparency and accountability in government and the news media, 2)the use of mercenaries and the National Guard in reckless overseas adventures, and 3) lack of energy-self-sufficiency. Cheney and Rove hide what they do with closed-door energy policy discussions and no bid mercenary contracts, Fox News aids and abets the coverup by suggesting anyone who questions the expansion of executive branch powers is unpatriotic, and by failure to investigate any story unless it fits their pre-determined beliefs. It’s much like saying scientific information must be false if it doesn’t match religious mythology - same thought processes at work. The majority don’t read or vote anymore, and that’s why we elected a moron to the White House.

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    By Andy, April 1, 2007 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
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    The real problem is not privatization, at least not real privatization.  The real problem is that you have the state, or plutocracy, that has the ability to take money from people (taxes/taxpayers) to give it to operations or causes that they may or may not wish to be involved with.  If they don’t want to be involved, this is theft, if they do, let them pay for it directly. 

    Perhaps, in this case, the way for us to get out of Iraq is for Congress to cut funding for contractors and maybe even increase it for the soldiers.  This way, they can’t be accused of being not for the troops, and at the same time they are excersising their power completely intended by the founders, and consistent with the Brittish Constitution up to that time, which is to cut off funds to unpopular wars. 

    Congress sinned when they allowed the President to declare war against Iraq, which was their sole power to do.

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    By Steve Berkshire, April 1, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
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    Any more names you folks would care to add to my list of “welfare queen” corporations? These are “privately held” companies that couldn’t exist with taxpayer support.Thanx.

    Lear/Seigler (LSI) KBR, General Dynamics, and Eagle Support are blood suckers too.

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    By Pete, April 1, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
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    Blackwater’s Self Appointed Mission From It’s Own website.

    “Blackwater USA is the most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world.

    Blackwater USA comprises nine separate business units to offer the most comprehensive professional security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world.

    To support national and international security policies that protect those who are defenseless and provide a free voice for all with a dedication to providing ethical, efficient, and effective turnkey solutions that positively impact the lives of those still caught in desperate times.

    Blackwater is committed to the foot soldiers—the men and women who stand on the frontlines of the global war on terror and who believe in a peaceful future for their communities and nations. Whether serving in or out of uniform, Blackwater is committed to providing these men and women with the very best in training and tactical support to ensure they are fully prepared to meet current and future global security challenges.”

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    By Outraged, April 1, 2007 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
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    I think we all ought to put a sign on our lawn or in our window.
    Such as:

    Do you know who’s got your tax dollar?

    I think we need to make it easier for people to become aware.  Getting them thinking is the FIRST thing.  Grassroots, its all about grassroots.

    Neighbors talk, they’ll tell you they don’t but they do.  Boy, do they ever!

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    By Bill Blackolive, April 1, 2007 at 9:51 am Link to this comment
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    Jeremy, and so here we are.  I am bothering people with my notion the simplest way today to wake the dormant is yelling how 3 steel beamed buildings 9/ll sinking into foundations from fire (one, not hit by plane, had I think some fire) for the only time in history is worth comment.  Early, in scattered media, there was small comment, and now there is no comment.  That fact alone screams for comment - thus my comment.  From here, well, fat minds get cross, but challange their manhood, do something, do something.  Fact being 9/ll is too ugly, well, too bad, we must do something.

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    By Gene McCarron, April 1, 2007 at 9:05 am Link to this comment
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    I do believe this Blackwater outfit is and can be a place for thugs to congregate. And so is government a place for the very same type of thugs to gather. The busy bodies of self rightessnous are always amongst us and are to be guarded against at all times. The hatchet wielding do gooders are the fleas of mankind and have, and do great harm to us. I do not want private enterprise to protect me and keep me ‘safe’. Safe from who?? Myself?? Or other evil lurking entities such as private security agencies??  Sounds like the dog catching the tail.

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    By DennisD, April 1, 2007 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
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    The history of the Bu$h administration has been one of “crisis management” - First create a crisis out of nothing or have a real one(Katrina) and then funnel the dollars to your contributor/corporate problem solvers. George truly is our Contractor in Chief.

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    By Tim Kelly, April 1, 2007 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
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    Regarding Jesus Christ as a “poster boy” for the power that rules this country, that is the inherent attribute of Evil - make people believe the truth is a lie and the lies are truths.  Jesus was a man of peace, so in order to convince people to tolerate evil, Evil must convince everyone that Jesus would have bombed Iraq and that killing in the name of Jesus is doing God’s work. 

    I used to be atheistic, then I was somewhat agnostic, but after too much evidence of both Good and Evil in manners completely beyond explanation through rational and logical means, I have come to see there is both Good and Evil.

    I don’t feel as liberals we have to run from anything with overtones of sectarianism.  As Kant showed, it is entirely possible to establish moral action on secular grounds, but at the heart of teachings by Jesus and others, there is a strong overlap.

    Many foresee a violent battle to regain control of this country away from Evil; that simply furthers violence and Evil.  Pacifism is not weakness, and resistance is not aggression.  Be willing to die before committing evil.

    While it may seem hopeless against such an onslaught of Evil, I take solace from viewing Evil as darkness and no amount of darkness can extinguish the light from a single candle, no matter how dim.

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    By Enemy Combatant, April 1, 2007 at 12:38 am Link to this comment
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    ” It happened that Jessie and Bluebell had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft that could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.”

    (Soonafter the animals take over Animal Farm. Boss Hog, Napoleon, is copping static from a rival which could lead to a “Constitutional Crisis”).

    “But just at this moment Napoleon stood up…..uttered a high-pitched whimper of a kind no one heard him utter before.
    At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn.”

    (with thanks to the master, George Orwell)

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    By Tom, March 31, 2007 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment
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    As long as the government is allowed to keep this nation on a paper standard as opposed to a true gold standard, you can expect things like this and a lot more state interventionism to crop up everywhere.  The U.S is an empire with over 800 military bases scattered all over the word, all funded by fiat currency, the supply of which is unlimited as long as there is fine paper and high-quality ink, plus, of course, computer cyphers.  It’s all about the money we allow the government to implement. One day soon it will all come crashing down upon all of us, the good and the bad; the good are as guilty as the bad for allowing it to happen.  Only one congressman has consistently railed against this terrible crime of legal tender by force of government.  Article I Section X of the Constitution says:  no state shall make any thing but gold and silver coin a payment of debts. If this were the case, the politicians would not have this unlimited supply ot funny money with which to fund these nefarious operations.


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    By Davis Downey, March 31, 2007 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
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    Blackwater is a term referring to water that is contaminated with excrement. It is a most descriptive and fitting appellation for this company reflecting their organization and purpose.  You cannot get involved with this organization without smelling like s—-.


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    By vanjejo, March 31, 2007 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    In Florida we have privatized ourselves out of our retirements and our children….

    Privatized FCAT testing—
    taking money from public schools by villianating the teachers and system - mandatory FCAT questions that even our own govenor FAILED.
    Then handing over all our $$$ to private and charter schools - with NO accountability and NO testing PERIOD, not even to retest and see if it makes a difference.  No one checking on how the money is spent and charter schools flopping,failing and running with the money.

    Privatized PUBLIC employees retirement investments—losses of over 335 million $$$ to the govenors personal friends - yes enron. They kept throwing employees retirements at enron even AFTER they knew.

    Privatized jails and juvenile detention facilities.  The more you jail - the more you profit.  Show our kids are getting pulled out of schools, sent to “detention” boot camps and USED as some sort of “stock” for profit.  They cut every need *food,programs,GOOD security etc..* - they even make more.  Wackenhut - another SCAM.  These guys are “night watchman wanna be police*.
    They just killed the Anderson boy - on film- 7 big bad wackenhut azzes beating the crap out of the boy and shoving ammonia tablets up his nose.
    then there was THAT attempt at a cover-up.

    Just a mess -
    anytime you throw in profit you find abuse.
    The more they scam - the less THEY invest - the higher the profits.  When you make jail and detention a profitable business, someone is going to invent or produce the product that profits.

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    By rosemarie jackowski, March 31, 2007 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
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    Thank you for exposing Blackwater for what it is. Please writean article about the history of the Black Budget which started in 1947. Because of the secrecy since 1947, no “informed” votes have been cast in the U.S. since then; therefore, no election since 1947 has been valid.

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    By Jad, March 31, 2007 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment
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    I think this is a predictable result of surrendering societal power to a central state.  Historically, expansive, aggressive states resort to hiring mercenaries (especially foreign mercenaries) when the domestic populations declines to enlist (the roman empire used this extensively, as did the British during the American Revolution).

    Nevertheless, it is the power of the state to wage the wars that is truly troubling, not that it has to pay extraordinary amounts for soldiers.  At several points in the interview, it sounded as though Mr. Scahill was implying that things would be somehow improved if the the government took back the role of illegal war from private contractors. 

    I find the idea of private, legally accountable security to be much more reassuring than that of government security.  I don’t know why the private individual who killed his friend in front of Best Buy (referenced in the interview) wasn’t prosecuted as a murderer, but had the killer been a government law-enforcer, he certainly would not have been held accountable (other than perhaps suffering a paid suspension followed by, at worst, removal from the force).

    This comment is too long.  To sum up: decrease the power of the state to engage in illegal activities instead of worrying overly about who they pay to commit their crimes (government agents or private companies).  Better yet: decrease the power of the state to engage in any activities.  The criminals that imprison, torture and kill people in other countries cannot be trusted to manage the lives of people in this country.

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    By B, March 31, 2007 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
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    Nice arrangement. Not only security but a built in intel network. (Security for the top U.S. officials)


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    By Pete, March 31, 2007 at 11:07 am Link to this comment
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    Any more names you folks would care to add to my list of “welfare queen” corporations? These are “privately held” companies that couldn’t exist with taxpayer support.Thanx.

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    By David, March 31, 2007 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
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    Why is this a surprise to anyone.  Any nation in which there is such an extreme concentration of power in the hands of the executive you will have the existence of private armies (or a secret preatorian guard).  This existed in Hitler’s Third Reich, and with these so-called military contracting firms we have the same thing in this country. 

    Who could have thought that in the US we have a private military not subject to any laws and completely loyal to one party and one leader.  Does this scare you?  It sure does scare me. 

    I will make a prediction here, if there is another crises or natural catastrophe of Biblical proportions, do not be surprised if there are 10,000 “private security contractors” deployed to maintain law and order. 

    I hope I am wrong and that this is a fantasy but my fear and that of most sensible Americans who are disgusted with the direction this nation has taken is that worst of times are ahead for all us. 


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    By bob, March 31, 2007 at 10:37 am Link to this comment
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    The whole terrorist/Iraq problem is a result of loose borders, and Globalization. Until America looks after herself, this will not end

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    By Phyltress, March 31, 2007 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
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    Add the new Gestapo to the philosophy that “liberals” are to blame for “the fall of Western Civ” and you have the recipe to ignite the flames of Auschwitz.  People, the Reich is HERE, not “coming soon”, but already in place. It’s been built under our noses since 2000, when the junta stole their first election, and we are just now uncovering the horrors perpetrated against our Democracy and country. WAKE UP AMERICA! Impeach these monsters, overturn everything they’ve done, remove their appointees, end the illegal war, and PROSECUTE THEM ALL!! We all need to not only bombard the Congress with email, calls & letters, which they ignore, but start taking to the streets. 
    Time is running out. If not, I fear we will find ourselves waiting for Blackwater forces to turn up at our doors, during the round up of “liberals” and others the junta doesn’t like. The Halliburton Hiltons await…

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    By Pete, March 31, 2007 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
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    This is scary stuff. I can see an outfit like this used as Bush’s Praetorian Guard. Dems, put this outfit out of business NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    By D.A. Chadwick, March 31, 2007 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
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    I agree that the 2008 election may provide the first shock for many patriotic Americans when Bush declares martial law and refuses to leave office.

    For far too many in the US the bottom line is the almighty buck and as long as they are making money it will not matter what is happening to the country they live in. They will just buy their way out of oppression like they do everything else.

    There will come a time when the words Homeland Security, Patriot Act and Blackwater will reap the same fear and disgust as the terms Nazi, SS and Auschwitz.

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    By Walter Tomion, March 31, 2007 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
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    The over corporatization and privitization of America is not a sign of progress ( contrary to what the “unregulated free marketeers” state). Its a sign of decay and decline for the United States. Everywhere you look you find signs of this decline ; whether its a rise in the infant mortality rate, steady decline in literacy and education, the federal budget deficit,or our sluggish and incompetantly managed government. The Reagan revolution promised a “new” and better future for the country with its business oriented philosophy. What we’ve got , in reality, is a failing country mired in greed, nasty partisan politcs, and irresponsibility. A Rome-like decline of our country is very possible….don’t think that its not.

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    By On More Day in the Rotting U SS A, March 31, 2007 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
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    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    So, regardless of whom you see as the arch-controllers, their goal is all the same – to create chaos: to make people terrified and full of hatred, and to get the maiming and killing going, big time. They see it as their most “sacred” duty.

    Who does he suggest that we the masses prepare to kill, anyway? No doubt, whoever it is, it won’t be the puppetmasters, the only real legitimate targets. Does anyone actually think that the elite will be in the line of fire? Of course not. They will be safely hidden away, as they are now, in the walled enclaves of their estates, lodge fortresses, and military bases. Whether in seaside mansions or mountaintop bunkers, whether on yachts, destroyers, submarines, aircraft, or possibly spacecraft, they will seek to indulge in the same depravities they do now, sodomizing one another while quaffing champagne and snorting coke, while innocent people die at their behest all over Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sumatra, Nuevo Laredo, or your home town.

    Real people, living, breathing, crying infants, sobbing children, terrified teenagers, baleful women, dismembered men and our mangled elderly are left bereft, suffering horribly, maimed for life or dying agonizing deaths, melted to a black crisp by white phosphorous, or deformed in the womb by depleted uranium, while the masters of war and chaos get off on it. It is a spectacle only to them. And the earth is being poisoned by it physically and spiritually for untold generations. The half-life of depleted uranium, of which the U.S. and Israel have used hundreds of tons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, is 4.5 billion years – longer than the time that earth has existed as a planet.

    But fear and panic and the premature ejaculation of hot lead from a gun barrel will surely sow the chaos these evil bastards desire. And no amount of angry, gun toting mobs, or lotus-eating pacifists for that matter, are going to save us from being blasted with depleted uranium artillery shells, or from being nuked by our own cruise missiles. Could the masses have prevented the inside job that was 9/11?

    No. Only people inhabiting the highest echelons on the inside could have done that. Inside the Pentagon. Inside the White House. Inside Skull and Bones. Inside Mossad.

    “Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told—and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their ‘beliefs.’ The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion.”

          -Michael Crichton, The Lost World

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    By xyz, March 31, 2007 at 7:21 am Link to this comment
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    bottom line, stop the funding and you stop the problem.

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    By Don Johnson, March 31, 2007 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
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    I have just spent a week in the USA after a four-year absence, and it still feels like a police state to me, despite the change in public opinion against the Iraq War. I can’t wait to get back out and feel comparatively safer and free-er, living in a Third World country where citizens have a much better grasp of world affairs than Americans currently have.
    Jeremy Scahill gets it. He understands that democracy and world empire are incompatible. He understands just how threatening organizations like Blackwater are to a free society. It seems to me these mercenaries could just as easily be turned against American citizens. In fact, organizations like Blackwater and Wackahut already are being used in places like
    Area 51 in Nevada, where they can shoot out your car’s tires with impunity if you drive too close. I am frightened that the skills they have been learning from killing and displacing Iraqis from that country, can be turned against Americans if and when they ever act up.
    James Harris still doesn’t get it. He is still a supporter of US exceptionalism (imperialism) at heart. He still believes in the greater virtue of American ideals over the rest of the world. I can tell you that the rest of the world no longer believes American ideals are so good.

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    By Steve, March 31, 2007 at 5:27 am Link to this comment
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    This is not an attack on democracy - sorry. None of these people are being forced to be there. Being offered an incentive like seven- or eight-times pay isn’t at all the same as arresting you for treason or something.

    I have a difficult time imagining the ‘America’ that people like Scahill want to see. It would be a world without violence, presumably - but exactly how do else you make militant Muslims who are so faith-blinded that they’re willing to fly planes into our skyscrapers *stop* doing it? You force them to. You can’t argue with faith - it’s not grounded in fact.

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    By John F. Butterfield, March 31, 2007 at 4:37 am Link to this comment
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    I can almost hear part of an Eric Prince/George Bush conversation, “You itch my trigger finger and I’ll itch yours.”

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    By FicusElasticus, March 30, 2007 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment
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      Now you can start to think about how this could influence the “shadow warriors.”  The intelligence and covert operations agents, the “trainers” and the “negotiators.”
      Who is reading E-mails?  What if they are reading your representatives E-mails?
      I mean, sure, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about…  But if you depend on client patient confidentiality, or you are attempting to protect a whistle-blower?  Or if you want to be a whistle-blower?

      I think the idea that this agenda stops where things like the FBI and the CIA begin is pure fantasy.

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    By Kol Klink, March 30, 2007 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    If you check the history of empires that hired mercenaries to do their fighting for them you will find that almost all were in severe decline.

    If say, Saudia Arabia, offered Blackwater twice as much money to fight US troops in Iraq as the US government is paying them do you suppose that Blackwater would take the contract? If they failed to take a contract that offered twice the money do you suppose that their stockholders would want to know why?

    The neo cons thought that they had learned two things from Viet Nam. One) Imbed and tightly control the media. Two) Do not use a conscriptmilitary. Use only a volunteer force. The neo cons thought that by making two changes that they could avoid another debacle like Viet Nam. Their reasoning was/is very flawed and as General Odom stated ‘They have committed the biggest strategic blunder in American history.’

    I would like to see them all hauled up before the world court and be tried for the war crimes that they have committed and continue to commit.

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    By Truth Be Told, March 30, 2007 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    V I C T O R Y ! ! !

    For America, for Freedom!! I THANK GOD for all the men and women who put their lives on the line FOR US! GOD BLESS THEM!!!

    Blackwater IS a blessing. Blackwater is necessary in a time where political ineptitude/ignorance/indifference undermines long term objectives that ensure the security of this GREAT NATION.

    As for your fearmongering it is misplaced.
    You better be afraid…afraid of the big scary world that lies beyond America’s border, not the men and women who shed their blood for this great country of ours.

    We are ALL BLESSED to live in The United States of America! DON’T FORGET IT!!!

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    By bethincary, March 30, 2007 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    It scares me to think where our country willbe in 5 years if this mercenary army is not banned by the United Nations. i get physically ill just thinking about how displaced from reality and greedy these people who run this organization are. Sick-very sick.
      I’ve also read that these companies are NOT providing insurance on these men if they are injured.
      I also cannot begin to imagine how it would affect moral of the paid military. I would be very angry to be risking my neck for some truckdriver getting paid 3xs as much.
      No oversight?
    This is nothing more than a mafia trying to legitimize itself. Sorry MR PRINCE-not buying it.
    This is about human trafficking.

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    By republicanSScareme, March 30, 2007 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I can’t think of anything scarier than a private army answerable only to some rich thug who pays their salaries.

    Private armies should be banned and their owners jailed.

    Impeach Bush & Thugs.

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    By Ed Encho, March 30, 2007 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    A Gestapo for hire like Blackwater is the strongest argument for a well armed militia that I could possibly imagine. I would strongly encourage ALL Americans to take a very good look at their second amendment rights before it is too late to stop these fascist thugs.

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    By jbart, March 30, 2007 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I graduated high school in 1970,as a reference.I believe it’s imperative to get the “word” out there.We can’t,realistically,overthrow the bastards,but we CAN unite and get our opinions heard.It’s not THEIR country, it’s ours! is a place to chat, right? Why isn’t truthdig?It’s time to create “problems” for the SOB’s again.Vietnam ended in “disgrace”, according to these people. We’re still here,aren’t we. Let’s get our kids home,and out of harm’s way.If the mercenaries wanna risk their lives for $, let’em!But not the U.S. taxpayer’s dime. Let those rich,coniving,cowards pay for what they get, themselves. Yeah, they’re the REAL patriots…. my ass !!!

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    By TAO Walker, March 30, 2007 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    So here you have one more piece of the puzzle.  But still no attempt, really, to put it together with others and see what sort of “big picture” is fast emerging.  How about this?  The long-time rule-of-fear to which the domesticated peoples had become more or less comfortably accustomed has been diminishing in effectiveness for maybe 50 or 60 years now, despite the constant scare-mongering of “the cold war.”  So, as these regimes always do, this latest in a long line of them has now metasticized into an outright reign-of-terror.

    What’s a poor muthah to do?  Do NOT be afraid! (James Yell, #61322)  This global gang of “....father rapers and mother stabbers” is just like all bullies in all times and all places.  Stand up to them “....all together now,” and they will dry-up and blow away like the hollow threats they actually are.  This old Indian’s WWII vet, ex-Marine younger brother says there was a name for these mercenary types back in the day.  They’re “the men with the paper assholes,” and the Bush/Cheney junta is made-up entirely of their ilk.

    Remember, too, there are any number of fates worse than mere death.


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    By felicity, March 30, 2007 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    So, my tax dollars are going to the likes of Blackwater.  True, they have to pass GO - vernment first, but that’s a mere technicality. (Aside from that, the army would cost me a lot less, right?)

    No doubt about it, security is a very profitable business to be in these days.  Congress just approved paying out the incredible sum of $100 million dollars to cover “security” for the Demo and Repub political conventions. (I had no idea we tax payers paid for political conventions.  Is that something new or is it just the “security” construct that’s new.)

    It rather boils down to if war is very profitable, there will be a lot of it as long as those who realize the giant profits control the government - which they do at the moment.

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    By 911truthdotorg, March 30, 2007 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Blackwater is what bush is going to use when he declares martial law and cancels the 2008 election.

    Of course there will be another “terror” attack blamed on Iran as the pretext. Probably nuclear.

    Hey, he got away with 9/11, didn’t he?
    No one questioned or pushed back without martial law in place, so now he’s on to bigger and better things. He’s not finished with the total destruction of the Constitution and this country yet.

    Demand a new, true 9/11 investigation.

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    By carlito paquito-rivera, March 30, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Contemporary highly paid Gestapo.

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    By Eso, March 30, 2007 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    The privatization of war is the logical extension of a violent society mouthing the doctrine of peace, but finding peace unworkable due to the fact that it is maintaining peace with violence. Ultimately this sort of thing will cause a reaction, a kind of internal division within a society that has been preaching peace, but not doing it.

    Is there a way of achieving peace without violence? That is of course the big question. Jesus Christ was a one man revolutionary against violence. Perhaps the day is coming when there will be many such.

    It is worth noting that self-sacrifice is not a word much used by contemporary societies, because we have not only denigrated it to the level of suicide, but by doing so caused a moral collapse of self-sacrifice, re ‘suicide terrorists’. Perhaps when the Blackwater people realize that they are being sacrificed on behalf of the ends of a violent society, its recruitment drive will suffer a setback.

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    By Quy Tran, March 30, 2007 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    When money keep talking everything has to be surrendered.

    MONEY is GOD ! no more in God we trust but in MONEY we trust !

    Report this

    By Lee, March 30, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    As a small farmer, I am going back to planting my strawberries, while America burns.

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    By TonyB, March 30, 2007 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Thank you for posting this.  This is definitely one of the most frightening aspects of this war.

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    By William Lewis, March 30, 2007 at 8:01 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Jeremy Scahill, I heartily commend you on your brave and illuminating journalism. I hope to read your book soon! What you have told us in this interview is frightening, yet every thing connected with george bush is frightening. I’m a little doubtful about your interviewers though. Compassion for mercenaries? Where did that come from? Do they come off as being naive to highlight your replies? If so, just for their own information, you don’t need it.

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    By MARIAM RUSSELL, March 30, 2007 at 7:45 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Armies used to be paid with looting the countries they decimated.

    This is a new twist, the home population is looted to pay the mercenaries.

    Does that make us dumber than the ancients?

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    By Tony S., March 30, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    When refering to “100,000 contractors”, are we refering only to contractor/mercenaries?  Or are we including contractors who are doing infrastructure rebuilding?

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    By James Yell, March 30, 2007 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    This is of course very disturbing. It is also a strategy to subvert and destroy democracy and humanism. It is cold and calculated effort to bring back the oppression that was so prevalent in the several thousands of years. It will destroy the one great contribution that Europeans and Americans have offered the world and it is all being done by people who are very wealthy and yet can’t stand the thought that others have even a little wealth.

    A big question is how did Jesus Christ get to be the poster boy of these irresponsible and disgusting mental cases? Jesus Christ, what ever you think of him as a GOD, was in no way a proponent of this kind of disregard of human life. Be afraid, be very afraid. Also, if you don’t understand the danger, than shame on you, we have a huge archive of history that illustrates the product of this type of chaos.

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