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Checkbook Imperialism:  The Blackwater Fiasco

Posted on Sep 18, 2007
Blackwater helicopter

By Robert Scheer

Please, please, I tell myself, leave Orwell out of it.  Find some other, fresher way to explain why “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is dependent upon killer mercenaries.  Or why the “democratically elected government” of “liberated” Iraq does not explicitly have the legal power to expel Blackwater USA from its land or hold any of the 50,000 private contractor troops that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq accountable for their deadly actions.

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Were there even the faintest trace of Iraqi independence rising from the ashes of this failed American imperialist venture, Blackwater would have to fold its tents and go, if only in the interest of keeping up appearances.  After all, the Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed that the Blackwater thugs guarding a U.S. State Department convoy through the streets of Baghdad fired “randomly at citizens” in a crowded square on Sunday, killing 11 people and wounding 13 others.  So the Iraqi government has ordered Blackwater to leave the country after what a government spokesman called a “flagrant assault ... on Iraqi citizens.”

But who told those Iraqi officials that they have the power to control anything regarding the 182,000 privately contracted personnel working for the U.S. in Iraq?  Don’t they know about Order 17, which former American proconsul Paul Bremer put in place to grant contractors, including his own Blackwater bodyguards, immunity from Iraqi prosecution?  Nothing has changed since the supposed transfer of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority, which Bremer once headed, to the Iraqi government holed up in the Green Zone and guarded by Blackwater and other “private” soldiers.

They are “private” in the same fictional sense that our uniformed military is a “volunteer” force, since both are lured by the dollars offered by the same paymaster, the U.S. government.  Contractors earn substantially more, despite $20,000 to $150,000 signing bonuses and an all-time-high average annual cost of $100,000 per person for the uniformed military.  All of this was designed by the neocon hawks in the Pentagon to pursue their dreams of empire while avoiding a conscripted army, which would have millions howling in the street by now in protest.

Instead, we have checkbook imperialism.  The U.S. government purchases whatever army it needs, which has led to the dependence upon private contract firms like Blackwater USA, with its $300-million-plus contract to protect U.S. State Department personnel in Iraq.  That is why the latest Blackwater incident, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki branded a “crime,” is so difficult to deal with.  Iraqis are clearly demanding to rid their country of Blackwater and other contractors, and on Tuesday the Iraqi government said it would be scrutinizing the status of all private security firms working in the country. 


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But the White House hopes the outrage will once again blow over. As the Associated Press reported on Monday: “The U.S. clearly hoped the Iraqis would be satisfied with an investigation, a finding of responsibility and compensation to the victim’s families—and not insist on expelling a company that the Americans cannot operate here without.”  Or, as Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified to the U.S. Senate last week: “There is simply no way at all that the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security could ever have enough full-time personnel to staff the security function in Iraq.  There is no alternative except through contracts.”

Consider the irony of that last statement—that the U.S. experiment in building democracy in Iraq is dependent upon the same garrisons of foreign mercenaries that drove the founders of our own country to launch the American Revolution.  As George Washington warned in his farewell address, once the American government enters into these “foreign entanglements,” we lose the Republic, because public accountability is sacrificed to the necessities of war for empire. 

Despite the fact that Blackwater USA gets almost all of its revenue from the U.S. government—much of it in no-bid contracts aided, no doubt, by the lavish contributions to the Republican Party made by company founder Erik Prince and his billionaire parents—its operations remain largely beyond public scrutiny. Blackwater and others in this international security racket operate as independent states of their own, subject neither to the rules of Iraq nor the ones that the U.S. government applies to its own uniformed forces.  “We are not simply a ‘private security company,’ ” Blackwater boasts on its corporate website. “We are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations firm. ... We have become the most responsive, cost-effective means of affecting the strategic balance in support of security and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere.”

Yeah, so who elected you guys to run the world?


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By cyrena, September 20, 2007 at 12:44 am Link to this comment

#101308 by middle.american


I’d say your assessment was right on the money. It is the Secretary of Defense that can blow these off, (just ignore all crimes by the mercenaries) and that’s what the Secretary of Defense has already done, at least until he left a year ago. (even though he hasn’t really gone anywhere).

But, the key lies in the CPA as set up by Bremer. Ernest Canning has an excellent rundown on it, (#101516) in addition to what Scheer has included in his piece.

Basically, the whole concept of Iraqi sovereignty is a horrible grotesque joke, and has been since the day Condi made that breathlessly dramatic announcement to the Thug- in- Chief: “Iraq is Sovereign” (dramatically whispered in his ear.) It was a horrifically cruel trick to play on the Iraqis, and they did the same to us. At least the Iraqis were never as fooled as we’ve been here, but we see that hasn’t saved them. (and our own ignorance has cost us a bunch).

Still, it’s never too late for us to “get” that all of these laws were very well planned. Bremer takes the credit, but I’m convinced that Cheney’s own legal team had more than a slight hand in it, just as it’s been Cheney’s private team that has drafted the Hydrocarbon Law that they want to shove down Iraq’s throat. (still unsuccessfully, though it doesn’t seem to matter, since major players within the Cabal have already cut their own “side deals” with the Kurds, and others in the northern region.)

And, that was always the reason for Haliburton, Blackwater, Bechtel, and others to be there in the first place; To assure the access to and collection of the oil. Actually, Halliburton ALREADY HAD KBR IN PLACE, (just at the Kuwaiti border,) before our own troops even got there in March of 2003. Kellogg-Brown-Root, (now spun off from Halliburton) was there with all of their oil stealing equipment, because Cheney was worried that Saddam would set the oil fields on fire before he’d let the Thugs steal it. (I think Saddam had pulled that one before when we tried to steal their oil, so they were ready for him this time).

When we look at the real reasons that were in place to begin with, (to steal the oil) then all of the other stuff starts to fall right in place. All of the 100 “orders” created by Bremer’s “CPA”, and simply the fact that the Mob has in effect, taken over Iraq. The US Flag is prominent there, and the Iraqi flag is NEVER displayed in any formal “photo op” without the US Flag carrying the prominence. And so it’s been, since the beginning. To pretend that Iraq has any political independence within the puppet government set up by Condi and the other treasonous former Ambassador…Zal-whatever is as cynical and insulting as it gets.

I swear I wish there was a way that the Iraqis could have run us out of thei homeland by now, but instead it’s been like watching a slow-motion and infinite train-wreck, that just won’t stop, because we won’t leave. And, that’s because that was NEVER the plan.

Instead, the Iraqis are fleeing by the millions. And, we’re still there, killing the ones that haven’t had a chance to get away. And, that was ALWAYS the plan.

Iraq has become exactly what the Mob planned, and now their well into the plan to do the same to Iran.

Pico, Thanks for the excellent commentary.

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By kevin99999, September 19, 2007 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The U.S. has gone berserk in its quest to privatize the army not only benefit the corporations but to evade political responsibility and accountability at home. But it still thinks it can lecture other countries how to be a civilized society.

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By cann4ing, September 19, 2007 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment

This from Democracy Now:  “Blackwater says it responded after coming under attack….Iraq’s Interior Ministry says the guards shot at a small vehicle which failed to make way for Blackwater’s convoy to pass….The New York Times reports video footage of the shooting shows [a] child burned to [its] mother’s body after their car caught fire.  Blackwater guards and helicopters are then believed to have fired indiscriminately.  One survivor…told McClatchy newspapers the Blackwater guards shot at a gathering of maintenance workers, two more cars, and a mini-bus full of Iraqi girls.  Both the survivor and another witness say they did not hear any explosions or gunfire before the Blackwater guards began shooting.”

If there can be a silver lining in such an horrific event it is in its exposure of the lie that Iraq is today a sovereign nation and to the claim that we are in Iraq to bring it freedom and democracy.  Order #17, which grants full immunity from all Iraqi laws not only to the coalition military but to all foreign contractors, is but one of 100 edicts imposed by L. Paul Bremer just before he took part in the so-called handover ceremony with Iyad Allawi, the former Baathist with ties to both the CIA and Saudi intelligence.  These edicts were written into the final draft Iraq’s constitution by Ambassador Khalizad and a few hand-picked Iraqis at the eleventh hour.  9.8 million Iraqis went to the polls in Oct. 2005 where they ratified a constitution that only a select few had seen.

In addition to the immunity, the Bremer edicts replaced Iraq’s progressive tax structure with a flat tax and reduced corporate taxation from 40% to 15%; opened Iraq’s banks to foreign control; created an Iraqi Communications and Media Commission, whose members were selected by Bremer; which was given sole licencing power and the authority to shut down news agencies; rewrote Iraq’s patent, trademark & copyright laws, placing them in line with the WTO model; privatized all of Iraq’s 192 government-owned induistries, except one—oil; permitted 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, which have no obligation to hire Iraqis and can withdraw capital as they please, and stripped Iraqi farmers of all tariff protections.

Of course, it is absurd to consider any nation occupied by 160,000 foreign troops and 180,000 mercenaries as “sovereign” in any event, but the imposition of these edicts should remove all doubt, if any still remain, that the war and occupation amounts to nothing more than imperial conquest.  All other descriptions and justifications for invading and remaining are propaganda.

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By KenDen, September 19, 2007 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment

Now if there were only some way to throw Blackwater out of our country.  Just the name, Blackwater, makes one think of some truly awful pollution.  And there is no doubt that they have polluted the world with their violent Christian vision.

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By Pico, September 19, 2007 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

There’s no question that fascism has come to the US.

We have a rogue president/vice president claiming unprecedented, flagrantly anti-constitutional powers.

We have an elaborate, un-checked domestic corporate/government spying apparatus unleashed on all of us. If you think they’re not spying on everyone who expresses concern or plans to run against them, guess again.

We have sabotaged voting machines and fraudulent elections.

We have a fanatical Christianist military command willing to impose itself on our military academies, by threat of retaliation if necessary.

We have a docile media fully owned and controlled by the military-industrial complex that’s owned by the Carlyle Group that’s owned by the president and his men.

Instead of asking why the GOP is enabling and sustaining this coup d’etat, they distort facts, indicting only Democrats who are speaking out even though they don’t have the numbers to run Congress. When they’re not blaming the Democrats, they’re feeding us nothing but Britney and OJ.

We have a paralyzed and largely bought-and-paid-for Congress.

We have the president’s personal praetorian guard owned by a fanatical Christianist billionaire who is locked into a cyclical group-grope with our tax dollars.

We have the most secret government in US history.

We have a president ready, able, and willing to kill hundreds of thousands because he wants to be “a war president,” poised now to nuke Iran on a lie, and happy to perjure himself and gut the Constitution he swore to uphold, again and again.

We have a people terrified by our shadows, and lining up to sell its chidren down the river environmentally, constitutionally, and economically if Herr Bush only barks loud enough. Instead of seeing the real threat, we are focused on a bunch of Mexican peasants. As if.

Our jobs are going, our houses are worth less by the hour, our economy is teetering in the hands of a hostile China, and our living standard is lower than it was in 1973.

Our public education system has been eroded or supplanted by a fascist home schooling program (fully orchestrated curriculum), and university education is for the elite, alone.

Our predatory leaders are willing to rape and pillage New Orleans for their own gain.

If we don’t have fascism and a people deliberatly rendered powerless, what are we lacking? It’s here. It patrolled the streets of New Orleans and it will be coming to a theatre near you.

We are at the rising of the curtain on a drama that’s been 30 years in the works, and these are the main acts. Ralph Reed said we wouldn’t see them coming until we were in the body bags. I didn’t realize that he meant that literally.

The question is, where are the “patriots” when you need them? Where are the Freepers and all the people who were flapping panicked about black helicopters now that the black helicopters are actually here?

This isn’t the country my Dad fought for in WWII. He was a paratrooper and lost his eye in North Africa. I’m glad he’s dead, because I don’t think he would endure this.

Why are we?

I just wonder what the senior military, intelligence, and diplomacy officers think of all this. They surely must see what’s going down. Are they just waiting for their turn through the revolving door? Or, like Alan Greenspan and John Warner, waiting for retirement (when they have their fortunes) to speak out?

We’re getting the country we deserve, arean’t we?

wild chihuahuas

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By Enemy of State, September 19, 2007 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Well its about time the public started to realize the extent of this sort of misbehavior. Unfortunately OJ is pushing this stuff out of Joe six-packs news attention span.

  In any case, if Maliki really wants to follow through and expel these guys, all he hasta do is make sure the world (especially Americans) know they expect to be obeyed. I think it would be too embarassing -even for this administration to publicly violate the Iraqi governments wishes. At least that would be the case if the main strean media properly covered the story.

  Of course Blackater would probably form a subsidiary (Swampwater) and send them all back under a different name. They will probably bill us for repainting the equipment with the new logo.

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By DennisD, September 19, 2007 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congress has until Oct 1 to raise the debt ceiling so they can continue to ignore the national debt and fund organizations like Blackwater with a fresh batch of monopoly money. Any bets it doesn’t happen.

Bu$h has outsourced the war, national debt and any responsibility for it’s consequences all at the same time. Hail to the Thief. I should say Thieves since Congress is as big a part of this tragedy as Bu$h by allowing it to continue.

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By Frank Cajon, September 19, 2007 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

Well, I see Operation Iraqi Freedom to Be Slaughtered in the Streets by Mercenaries is proceeding well. Blackwater is no different or better than the militias that are killing our troops, they are simply being paid extravagantly to kill Iraqis instead. All of the furor being raised here is legitimate, especially the charade about Iraqi self-determination in their own affairs being a sham, but I’ll play the devil’s advocate: the Bush/Cheney Reich is in it for the long haul, the ‘past his presidency’, and they already have 165,000 REAL troops on the ground. IF they weren’t making Prince and the other security contractors billionaires by outsourcing the slaughter work to experts, then there would as many as 48,000 more troops in harm’s way. This is one estimate of the very difficult number to track of just how many of the private ‘contractors’ in Iraq are hired mercinaries. The convenience for Herrs Bush and Cheney, despite the $1000+ a day cost for these life-takers and heart breakers, is that their deaths and injuries, as well as true numbers, go unreported as war casualties. Since the madmen refuse to even entertain that the US has made an egregious error in its imperialistic invasion/occupation and setting off of a sectarian civil war it cannot control, nor should it, we are left with the option of having our National Guard units fight this unwinnable travesty or paying with a multitrillion dollar national debt to leaving it to a bunch of homicidal misfits who kill for a good living and thrills. Read Blackwater’s website, it is a Fascist wet dream. Send them all there, and leave them, bring our sons and daughters home.

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By thomas billis, September 19, 2007 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is the problem the sovereign democratic nation of Iraq has asked Blackwater to remove their people.Unintended benefit of the action our diplomats cannot go out and cause more trouble in the country.I cannot see how the monkey we have in White House after the democratically elected sovereign nation of Iraq bullshit he has been saying for so many years will allow him to do anything different but accede to Maliki’s wishes but my crapometer is saying he will find a way to keep the neocon mercenary force there.

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By Sleeper, September 19, 2007 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

It really does make you wonder concerning 9/11.  We have not been told the truth.  It must have cost a bundle.  Those truly responsible probably used our money to pay these military whores.  They will do anything for money.  They care nothing about our Constitution.  It is just an inconvenience to those seeking empire and GREED.

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By heavyrunner, September 19, 2007 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have you read “Billions Over Baghdad” in the October issue of Vanity Fair? (available free on-line at:

by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele?

I wonder how many of those billions in $100 unmarked and unregistered bills wound up in some Karl Rove domestic political project?

Custer and Battles, two otherwise nondescript, recently retired Army Rangers, received $100 million in cash to protect domestic airline flights into Baghdad.  As we all know, none of those ever materialized.  So they were given $100 million, in cash, essentially for nothing.  The money was given to them in repeated installments, even after it was apparent that there would be no flights.

Makes me wonder what services they did provide that we know nothing of?  Were they demolition experts in the military?  Were they in New York area, by any chance, in the months leading up to 9/11?

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By lawlessone, September 19, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Blackwater - Deeper Water”
Or, What Will We Do When the Iraqis Tell Our Soldiers as Well the Blackwater Mercenaries to Leave? 

    The democratically elected Iraqi government has demanded the infamous Blackwater company’s private mercenaries get out of Iraq.  Has Bush given any consideration to what he will do if (or more likely when) the current or future Iraqi government at some point suddenly demands our “official” troops also leave?  Remember, polls and other evidence shows pretty clearly that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi voters want us out.  They seem particularly incensed with the unchecked arrogance of the Blackwater employed armed body guards who operate with no legal, ethical or apparently even legal constraints.  However, they are only marginally more tolerant of our regular army troops who tend to be culturally illiterate and seldom even reprimanded for overt prisoner abuse, let alone civilian deaths and destruction euphemistically disguised as “collateral damage.”

  Has Bush considered the fiasco that would result from us having to effect a hasty total pullout ala Vietnam?  To be forced into a precipitous retreat not of our choosing would be to abandon billions, maybe trillions, in valuable assets.  On the other hand, to stay in defiance would certainly put the lie to any justification that we were actually there to preserve “democracy” or Iraq “freedom.”  It would be akin to Saddam’s demanding to stay in Kuwait after his invasion.  It might even give an excuse valid under international for Iran, maybe even the UN, to come into Iraq to help them enforce the decision.  Wouldn’t that be a truly ignominious howdy do?

  All the presidential candidates had better start considering that possibility or probability in their campaign rhetoric since that debacle would surely be even worse than the one Bush has already enmeshed us.  And, since Bush seems incapable of considering alternatives he doesn’t like and is apparently too arrogant to consider risks, it will end up the responsibility and blame of the next President if it happens.

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By Pico, September 19, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Inherit the Wind:
Yours is the best post I’ve read all day. I like it so much I’ve taken the liberty to reprint it on my blog, fully attributed, of course. Take a look at  If there’s a problem, let me know at the e-address on the site and I’ll take it down. Meanwhile, well said!

To Robert Scheer: As always, you de man!

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By DominionistFilthSilverSpoon, September 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Little baby ERIC PRINCE thinks he can play toys and have his own little Army.

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By sophrosyne, September 19, 2007 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush failed to build a legitimate international coalition, failed to ever honestly explain the war or get a declaraton of war based on the facts, and failed to garner a patriotic (draft) response from the American people.  So, he farmed it all out to avoid accountability.  Blackguard Blackwater is part of a larger malaise.

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By Calibpatriot, September 19, 2007 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

The neothugs have formed their own private army that is not subject to any checks or scrutiny.  What will prevent them from being used by the neothugs to round up dissenters in the future and be put into the internment camps that are reportedly being set up to hold political dissenters should the political situation in our country reach the boiling point.

Congress must pass a law that would outlaw the existence of private militias such as Blackwater USA.

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By John Borowski, September 19, 2007 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The concept that Iraq is now a freedom democracy is risible. The two “presidents” in Iraq and Afghanistan were criminals before the shock and awe. They stole billions and when they were almost caught by the people of those two countries, they escaped to where else, London. Have you ever notice that any major dictator or tyrant will escape to where else, London. These puppets of Britain know that if they don’t do the bidding of the British, the British will allow the people of their respective countries to hang them. The British and their American colony don’t care if the twenty-five percent know this. The seventy-five percent that swims in the ocean of ignorance will out shout the twenty-five percent every time. How do I know there are seventy-five percent of swimmers? By just assaying the six-year-old intellectual level of the swimmers that are fed successfully “as seen on TV”. There is an axiom that states power and wealth corrupt and absolute power and absolute wealth corrupt absolutely. I think we have arrived at the absolute stage, folks.

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By zz ziled, September 19, 2007 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Could the planned Blackwater West, in greater San Diego, [See: ]]
; and the fact that GOP Congressman Darrel Issa was so LOUD on getting rid of US Attoney Carol Lamm;
[See: []
and today’s article in WAPO all be connected?

House Members Resist Testifying in Contractor Trial
Washington Post
By Paul Kane Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; A07

The defense contractor charged with bribing convicted former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham has subpoenaed 13 House members, including former speaker J. Dennis Hastert, to testify in his federal trial.

But the 13 lawmakers are refusing the subpoena, and the House general counsel sent lawyers for the contractor, Brent R. Wilkes, a letter saying that it was overly broad and “did not elaborate as to what testimony you seek from each member.”

Wilkes has been indicted on more than 30 counts, including fraud and money laundering, as one of several alleged conspirators who paid more than $2.4 million in bribes to the California Republican. Cunningham is serving an eight-year prison term after pleading guilty to steering millions of dollars in government business to Wilkes and other defense contractors.

It is unclear what Wilkes’s defense team wants from Hastert (R-Ill.) and the other lawmakers. His attorney, Mark J. Geragos, did not respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday.

Most of the 13 members have served on the three committees from which Cunningham steered funding to Wilkes: Appropriations, Armed Services and intelligence. In their investigation, federal prosecutors had sought a massive swath of documents covering almost eight years from those three panels, which resulted in a protracted negotiation and the release of some materials.

Several of the subpoenaed members were recipients of large donations from Wilkes and his associates. They include three California Republicans: John T. Doolittle, who took in more than $80,000 in contributions linked to the contractor; Jerry Lewis, who received at least $60,000 and chaired the Appropriations defense subcommittee while it steered $37 million, at Doolittle’s request, to a Wilkes company; and Duncan Hunter, the former Armed Services chairman who received at least $40,000 linked to Wilkes and is now running for president.

As required by House rules, the subpoenas were read into the Congressional Record late Monday evening. John D. Filamor, assistant House counsel, wrote Geragos on Sept. 6 to object to the subpoenas, citing House rules that forbid members from testifying in judicial proceedings unless their testimony is “material and relevant.”

Filamor also cited the “speech or debate” clause of the Constitution as a likely impediment to the testimony and to “many, if not all, of the documents” Geragos is seeking from a handful of lawmakers. That clause protects members from being tried criminally for legislative acts.

The next likely move by the House counsel is to seek to quash the subpoenas in federal court in San Diego, where Wilkes is slated to go on trial next month.

The other lawmakers subpoenaed: Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the minority whip; Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), a senior member of the Appropriations defense subcommittee; Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the intelligence committee; Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose district adjoined Cunningham’s; Joe Knoellenberg (R-Mich.), a senior member of the full Appropriations Committee; John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee; Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), chairman of Intelligence; Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of Armed Services; and Jerry Weller (R-Ill.).

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By 1drees, September 19, 2007 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

intresting facts that ther is about 150,000 USA soldiers in uniform and then there is another 180,000 on the Corporations payroll or simply put MERCINARIES.

now what needs to be doen is to put an end to the Exporting of evil from America and not exporting GUILT coz Americans got none of guilt or conscience.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, September 19, 2007 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

Blackwater is siphoning off money for the military and taking their special ops troops when they come up for reenlistment.

Clinton may have begun “outsourcing” but the past 7 years under the Bush regime have perfected it.

How do you outsource guilt?

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By alan michael moore, September 19, 2007 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Condi will just bypass the Maliki puppet and let the mercenaries go their merry, bloody way. Who’s kiddin’ who?

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By Jkoch, September 19, 2007 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No license?  Blackwater, the Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army, AQI, the FAcilities Protection Services, most of the Iraqi Police, all the loose canons in the Interior Ministry, and even most of the Parliament are outside outside the control of Iraq’s government.  All might borrow from the immortal proclamation of Alfonso “Red Hat” Bedoya: 

“Lie sense?  We don’t need no stinkin’ lie sense.”

And, come to think of it, if you had to go down some Iraqi road with armed guards, would you rather the escorts be the Iraqi police, Quaker Friends, or a band of right-wing gun nuts, who at least get paid, fear an ambush at every turn, and fire with little hesitation?

Another advantage of the mercenaries is the lower PR profile of their own deaths and casualties and the “plausible denial” factor when misbehavior occurs.

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By Eric L Prentis, September 19, 2007 at 10:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Republicans in Congress running for reelection in 2008, please save yourselves—not lame-duck President Bush. Vote for a change of mission in Iraq—wasting $2 billion dollars a week and thousands of American and Iraqi lives on this failed US war of aggression is a sham. Incumbent Congressional Republicans, please wake up on the Iraqi war and take a stand, you will be rewarded by the American voters and by history.

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By ProfessorVP, September 19, 2007 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

The so-called government of Iraq can kick out Blackwater when pigs fly or when Larry Craig turns straight.  The very notion that Iraq is a soverign nation is laughable.

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By Mudwollow, September 19, 2007 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

MERCENARY: Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.

Sounds like our president. Sounds like our Congress. Sounds like our two-party political system.

No wonder we are so screwed up. We have a mercenary government were the American Constitution is simply an impediment to the kleptocracy.

Blackwater is only a symptom of the larger disease.

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By felicity, September 19, 2007 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Just something to ponder - Officially, the occupation of Iraq ended on June 28, 2004.  So, not only are we not ‘at war’ with Iraq - never were - we’re also not ‘officially’ occupying the country.  What we’re really doing is ‘governing’ our newly acquired satellite.

Blackwater thugs were all over New Orleans following Katrina - body armor, guns cocked - have to wonder what the victims of Katrina thought.  Wonder what Iraqis think.  Wonder what I’ll think when they show up in my neighborhood.

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By Bob, September 19, 2007 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A while back I encountered Blackwater ‘security’ guarding a FEMA station, while doing a photo story on devastated New Orleans.

The guard answered my questions regarding access in a precise and polite manner, but there was little doubt in my mind that this person, who essentially was a civilian like me, would have have inflicted bodily harm or even shot me on the spot if I had run afoul of the restrictions he had laid out.

There was a underhanded threat to their tone and approach that was quite unpleasant. You had the feeling that they felt like they were untouchable by the law, which may be so, given the companies political connections.

Needless to say I was on my best behavior and when he said I wouldn’t take pictures in location x,y and z I didn’t.

But the whole encounter left a bad taste in my mouth. I was more worried about a private security firm than streetgangs (who did shoot at me once) and even certain elements of the New Orleans police department or those of the surrounding counties.

By far the most professional and civil group that I encounterd in New Orleans, were the members of the 82nd Airborne Division. Although they were without a doubt the most heavily armed and best trained units in town, I never felt threatened by them in the least bit, which is of course as it should be. They were polite, professional, helpful and obviously there to assist their fellow Americans.

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By G, September 19, 2007 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
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Beyond these mercenaries, an interesting financial alliance has grown in this country among corporate America, the fed Govt., and Arab-Americans. To explain, the Iraq war has become an Arab American gold rush.  Arabs across the US with a decent credit and arrest record are filing in for service with companies like Titan inc, Lincoln Group, among others, to get paid well into the six figures for doing some bullshit translating work. These corporations essentially bill the government (our tax dollars) around 250-500 thousand a person. In turn, the companies pay the so called “interpreters” around 100,000. Furthermore, these translators never leave the base and instead are given remedial work over and over again to be done…I can only guess why. Its a cash making frenzy for contractors of all kinds…

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By jimijazz, September 19, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
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And when you think about it, Erik Prince(founder of Blackwater) is no different than the fanatical militants of the muslim faith or the Jihad or some of these other groups. He’s taken his religion to a fanatical, unhealthy extreme. The fact that this guy decided to create his own military in this country’s own backyard is appalling and disgusting. There are almost no words for it. We can’t have private individuals with extreme agendas decide to take it upon themselves to conduct U.S. foriegn policy just because they have huge bankrolls and dont’t like the age they happen to be living in. It goes against everything this country is supposed to stand for.

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By mary, September 19, 2007 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

....“so who elected you guys to run the world”...GWB, with our tax dollars…...

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By LibertyWatch, September 19, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment
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Many of this firms operatives were trained by our military and left their uniform careers to become highly paid mercenaries. That is their choice to make. I for one am totally and absolutely against the use of this form of military by my country. Also they should be absolutely band from working within the borders of America. Our Constitution forbids our military from operations within our borders and the use of Blackwater types in NOLA is in violation of the Constitution by my perspective.

So what happens when their usefulness to the neo-con fascist occupation of foreign lands is concluded? Are we taxpayers suppose to care for their injuries and medical requirements the same way I, as a disabled Vietnam veteran, am gratefully cared for by an overtaxed veterans care system.

The millions being paid out for hired guns, could provide proper medical care for the American military injuries incurred in combat instead of all the half measures and long lines our veterans face in the VA medical system.

No, we as a country must join the world community, not try to rule it. Our own arrogance will destroy us from within. We have gone backwards into the 21st century instead of making progressive social changes for a society where everyone is treated equally and justice is fair. Elitist hire men with guns to guard their illegal activities in another persons land to steal the natural resources.

A war crime, is a war crime irregardless if it is a private gun or a military person. If justice wins BushCo and its mercenaries will all go to the Hague for the new war crimes tribunals.

I hold little hope we will ever have Justice prevail.

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By middle.american, September 19, 2007 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

SORRY!  I meant to type that SECRETARY OF DEFENSE has the authority to set up this KANGAROO COURT in my post below.

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By middle.american, September 19, 2007 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

After reading through the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act 18 U.S.C. 3261 it would appear that there is a minimal criminal proceedure available for these situations.  It is easily imaginable that the Secretary of State has the major players of this kangaroo court on speed dial. 

The Secretary of State has the authority in these matters to “simply” remove the suspected criminals to a U.S. installation, grant them a Judge Advocate, then make a phone call to a Federal Magistrate Judge who can then rule then and there, over the phone, whether the person is guilty or innocent of the accusations.

Read it yourself.  I now understand why there have been no prosecutions for wrongdoing by contractors.  It’s not that they are boyscouts who have done no harm.  Rather, they are put through what is basically a debriefing, given a verbal slap on the wrist over the phone and sent home.

It’s no wonder the Iraqi government is so frustrated with contractor behavior.  They are above Iraqi law.  There bid to remove contractors from Iraq will probably have more of an effect on a U.S. withdrawal of troops than anything excepting a complete end of violence.

Read it.  Am I wrong in my assesment?  Are there other documents that take precidence or does the fact that we have had no official declaration of war effect the validity of this document?

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By Peter K, September 19, 2007 at 8:08 am Link to this comment
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I don’t get it.  The army is not really a “volunteer” force because they get paid? I suppose you think they should get nothing then?

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By John C. Bonser, September 19, 2007 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

These criminal actions will continue until the “Roll Over Democrats” discover their courage or the GOP discovers integrity.

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By Gerald Bratcher, September 19, 2007 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
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Where do these private companies get the legal rights to use the tools of war in their US training camps.  Last time I looked it was a felony to own or deploy automatic weapons, anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft weapons.  Certain exceptions apply, but none that would cover the activities of Blackwater et al.

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By Inherit The WInd, September 19, 2007 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
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Somebody please, PLEASE explain to me the difference between Osama Bin Laden and Erik Prince.

Both are insanely wealthy, born to wealth.
Both are religious fanatics: “My Way or die”
Both have built private armies answerable only to them.
Both see themselves above national and international law, answering only to “God’s Law”.
Both have created systems where their followers are willing to engage in ANY atrocity.
Both have organized, planned and carried out atrocities through their surrogates.
Both have bent entire governments to their will, to allow them to act with impugnity.
Both see the governments as merely tools to get their private organizations where they want to go.
Both want to see the world dominated by a theocracy led by them, with NO alternatives allowed.
Both are cold, vicious bastards who should rot in Hell.

And neither is being hunted or pursued by the US Government.

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By KISS, September 19, 2007 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

I remember the outlawing of ads looking for Mercenaries in “Le Mercenaire” and the other mercenary magazine, by the US Government. My how things have changed. Haliburton,Blackwater and other parasitic Co.‘s are guiltless in the eyes of the repugs and dimmo hawks.Not only a means to siphon oil away from Iraqi’s but to establish a methodology for a ” One World Government”. How I and many others were laughed at many years ago, and called conspiracy idiots. Now who is laughing?

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By ccsingle, September 19, 2007 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

How can anyone possibly be surprised when they learn of yet another vile. criminal act brought on by the bushies?  What else do you expect from the clowns who now infect our government leadership?

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By SuGee, September 19, 2007 at 5:40 am Link to this comment
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What do you expect for a criminally insane puppet with an Odiepal complex?  The president’s vice president, “Unka Dicky” is his father figure, since poppy was too busy in government, either in Washington or China.  It is truly pathetic that these two are still in government.  The use of organizied religion to push their fear agenda is truly disgusting.

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By Mike Roberts, September 19, 2007 at 5:38 am Link to this comment
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This sounds like the Iraqis are making an attempt to remove American forces from their soil.  Or possibly, the Maliki gov’t just needs to make it look like they’re able to stand up to the U.S. in some way.

If Blackwater is forced out (or forced to curtail some activities) it’s also possible that U.S. forces will be at greater risk.

Any way it cuts, this could be a pretty big deal.

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By John Borowski, September 19, 2007 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
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Yesterday on the news, the Blackhawk criminals fired on a village and killed some Iraqi people. The reason given was they were fired on first. Today on the news, the Blackhawk criminals fired on a vehicle containing an Iraqi father, mother, and infant and killed them all. The reason given was they were fired on first. Folks, if you had your wife and your baby in your car would you fire on Blackhawk criminals armed to the teeth. On top of this abomination, I’ll bet that family did’nt even have a cork pop gun in the car. This shows me what kind of society we are living in since the Republicans (Aka Conservative right-wingers) have fraudulently stole the 2000 and 2004 elections. I believe it was a fraud because despite the fact most people would not win an Einstein award; it’s hard to believe they would put this type into our government. The above example and a myriad number of other reasons is why I believe this world’s is evil and insane.

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By Sabby, September 18, 2007 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment
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What the US is doing is not new.
It’s an old imperial tactic.

If you look back into the history of European imperialism, you will see how all the european empires used such colonial techniques to wage gorilla warfare on defenseless civilian population to control the colonies..

French used “French Foreign Legions”, British used “Nepali Gurkhas” and so on..

When you are fighting civilian population, you need to kill women and children. You cannot rely on your own volunteer army to do this dirty work. I mean, your own army will break pretty soon (remember Vietnam??). Army is too close to the civilian society back home to commit these horrendous acts of voilence on innocent people in foreign lands. Your own troops come back and expose what their country is doing. It’s not sustainable.
This is a job of professional killers. All the european empires understood this. French did not depend upon real french soldiers to go kill people in Algeria or Indo-China.
Belgians used African mercenaries to control Congo.

The same way, America is currently involved in a neo-colonial war. American Empire need these professional killers to sustain this Empire.

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