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The State Dept.‘s Murderous Guardians

Posted on Oct 2, 2007
wounded man
AP photo / Hadi Mizban

Hassan Jabir, 37, recuperates in a Baghdad hospital surrounded by his family.  A bystander, he was injured Sept. 16 in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood when security officers escorting a State Department convoy opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding several others.

By Robert Scheer

How did it come to be that the ostensibly best-educated and most refined representatives of the United States in Iraq are guarded by gun-toting mercenaries who kill innocent civilians?  More urgently, why did State Department employees and their bosses in Washington tolerate—and pay to conceal—the wanton murder conducted on their watch?

That’s the real scandal of the more than $832 million the U.S. State Department paid Blackwater, investigated this week by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, headed by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).  The issue is not simply that of the Blackwater forces’ horrid behavior but, more important, why the mayhem they unleashed upon innocent Iraqis was approved and covered up by the Bush administration.  For example, why did a top State Department official initially suggest a payment of $250,000 of American taxpayers’ money to conceal the uncontested fact that, as the House committee report states, “a drunken Blackwater contractor killed the guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi”?

The State Department enabled the Blackwater shooter to be spirited out of the country within 36 hours, and although Blackwater subsequently fired him, he has never faced any criminal charges.  Nor have any of the others involved in the 195 shooting incidents Blackwater officials admitted have occurred in the past two years, incidents in which 84 percent of the time Blackwater contractors fired first.  According to Blackwater’s own documents, the congressional committee reports, “in the vast majority of incidents ... Blackwater shots are fired from a moving vehicle and Blackwater does not remain on the scene to determine if their shots resulted in casualties.”  During one trip U.S. diplomats made to the Ministry of Oil, 18 different Iraqi civilian vehicles were smashed by the fast-moving motorcade.  Those hit-and-runs were conducted in full view of the escorted State Department officials without any of them forcing a subsequent investigation.

Despite all the nonsense about a “liberated Iraq,” one of President Bush’s favorite phrases, the Iraqis still lack the authority to prosecute American mercenaries occupying their country because of a law pushed through by then-U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer, who was also guarded by Blackwater personnel.  Bremer awarded the original no-bid contract to Blackwater, run by a major Republican campaign contributor, Erik Prince, who has donated $225,000 to the GOP.  Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos was Michigan’s Republican Party chair and a Bush-Cheney “Pioneer” who came through with at least $100,000 for their 2004 campaign.

But this is not yet another story about payoffs to the GOP faithful who have predominated in the occupation and are totally untrained for their assigned tasks in the restructuring of a country that they know nothing about.  The Blackwater guards know their job all too well, which is to guard top U.S. officials by any means necessary—including the casual extermination of innocent Iraqis.

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Clearly, paid contractors are better for this task than American military personnel, since contractors operate outside of the restraints imposed on ordinary troops by law and by their own consciences.  Many Blackwater contractors have been recruited from the U.S. military at much higher pay than direct service to their country afforded them.  Whereas a top Army sergeant is paid $51,100 to $69,350 a year in salary, housing and other benefits, a Blackwater contractor (often a retired sergeant) receives six to nine times as much.  The U.S. government pays Blackwater $1,222 per day for one Blackwater “Protective Security Specialist,” which, the congressional report notes, “amounts to $445,891 per contractor” per year.  In an unusual display of disapproval aimed at Blackwater from the right side of the aisle, Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., noted Tuesday that Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’ annual salary amounts to less than half of what some high-ranking Blackwater security officials in Iraq earn.

Of course they’re worth it, along with the Iraqi deaths they cause, if your own life is on the line and that’s all that matters.  This is clearly the position of the State Department employees in Iraq and their bosses in Washington who have covered up for Blackwater for years.  As the House committee majority staff states:  “There is no evidence in the documents that the Committee has reviewed that the State Department sought to restrain Blackwater’s actions, raised concerns about the number of shooting incidents involving Blackwater or the company’s high rate of shooting first, or detained contractors for investigation.”

No better evidence that the Iraqis are the Indians, attempting as imperfectly as they may to protect their ancestral terrain.  But this time the imperial majesty of the United States, represented by American Ambassador Ryan Crocker, is established not by the U.S. cavalry but by a band of hired gunslingers.     
           


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By cann4ing, October 6, 2007 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

By the way, Frank, since you have taken it upon yourself to speak for everyone in uniform, do you include Lt. Erin Watada who refused deployment because he felt doing so would violate the oath he took to obey the constitution and the laws of the United States; that if he accepted an unlawful order to deploy he would become an accomplice to this crime?

Indeed, I am wondering Frank, when and where did “you” ever serve?  Or are you a chicken-hawk neocon who evaded service like our Commander-in-Chief whose father pulled strings so he could leap over better qualified applicants and into the Texas Air National Guard, evading Vietnam, or like old six-deferrment, “dead-eye” Dick Cheney who had better things to do, while guys like me wound up having the privilege of enjoying those beautiful Southeast Asian sunsets?

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By Nabih Ammari, October 6, 2007 at 6:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A “hired gun” means exactly what the words “hired” and “gun” mean.A hired
gun means something offensive to those
who wish to adhere firmly to the rules of laws established through the ages by
the totality of the Human Experiences
since the days of Hammurabi,the ethical ruler of Babylon of ancient
Mesopotamia till present time.All the
historical “Human Experiences” have
striven for social order resulting from the totality of individual ethical behaviors.The behaviors and actions of the mercenaries or guns for
hire are incompatible with “Human
Experiences” referred to in the fore-
-going comments.

Therefore, the definition of the word
“mercenary” is really not important as
long as it is recognized that the whole idea of “hired gun” or “mercenary” is ethically,legally and humanly wrong-very wrong.It is not a way to win disparately needed friends.
It is more likely a one way to create
new enemies.Gandhi of India and Nelson
Mandela of South Africa are considered
among the towering figures of the 20TH
century.Neither of them fired a single shot against their tormentors and yet
they were the ultimate winners in the
final analysis.

I have mentioned foregoing about Gandhi and Mandela to prove that military might,whether governmental or
privatized,is not necessarily the best way to solve problems.History tells us that wars and violence produced more
wars and more violence.Ethical justice
is the key for a peaceful world which
humanity strove for since the ancient
days of Hammurabi.

Therefore,debating the definition of
mercenary will not help the savagely
victimized Iraqis.What will be of much help is to eliminate “Order 17” from
“A” to “Z”.Order 17 is the cause of all abuses committed by the wars profiteers and mercenaries.To find out
what is Order 17 all about,Google the
following title and author:

Tomgram:Bush’s Free World And Wellcome
To It,By Tom Engelhardt.

The details of “Order 17” may shock you as they have shocked me.

As long as “Order 17” remains and the
funding for the occupation continues,
the wars profiteers and mercenaries
will continue to abuse the innocent
Iraqis and will continue fleecing the
U.S. Treasury until the eventual financial collapse .It had happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.It may
happen to the U.S. in Iraq.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By cann4ing, October 5, 2007 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, Frank, Dick Cheney already obtained exclusive rights to the “go F*** yourself” phrase, which, to my mind seems to be a request that one perform a physical impossibility.

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By Frank, October 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Ernest, your last post is beneath contempt and doesn’t merit a reply.  But I’ll reply anyway, of behalf of all US military personnel: 

Go fuck yourself.

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By cann4ing, October 4, 2007 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

Frank—whatever gave you the naive idea that either Blackwater’s mercenaries/security contractors/thugs (pick one) or our soldiers are serving their country?  Those serving in either capacity are serving the interests of the ruling elite and the military-industrial complex—the war profiteers, the oil industry and the many corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater who are making a killing off of the killing.

When George Bush launched this unprovoked, unnecessary, illegal, imperial conquest, he not only committed a war crime, he betrayed this nation.  Anyone serving in Iraq, be they a soldier given the choice of serving or jail, or a mercenary looking for a quick buck, is an accomplice to that betrayal—just as I was an accomplice to such a betrayal when I served in Vietnam.  You cannot be an accomplice to a betrayal and claim to be serving the nation at the same time.

In this day and age, where “support the troops” propaganda is the order of the day, it is somewhat useful to recall the words of Bob Dylan:  “He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame.  His orders come from far away no more.  They come from you and me, and me and you, and brothers can’t you see?  This is not the way we put an end to war.”

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By antwoine, October 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is so much fun reading these posts and seeing the arguments and the banter taking place as if everyone was in a big room having some great debate.
I remember watching movies. Where ex-soilders for some reason worked for themselves after a life of military action. Regular soilders always gave way to those that they knew were uninhibited by any laws, Hell, a merc could override a commander of any rank and spit in his face, and why? Because he was so fed up with the politics of war and takes justice into his own hands? Whether he be hero or anti-hero. People who own and work for BlackWater do not believe in the codes of the military so they do not have to abide by them as they did when they were themselves in the military and fighting under any code. BlackWater can be hired by anybody to do anything. That makes them guns-for-hire, and no more than mercenaries whether they be from the armies of the United States or militaries from other countries. Once a soilder always a soilder, but there is a line that can not be crossed to where you end up being no more than a killer-for-hire with no restraints against the common civilian in warfare. Who is to blame? Remember how we treated our Vietnam Vets? Remember how hard it is for ex-military to function in the real world after wars. No other country as civilized as ours SHITS on its military the way we do after they are no more use on the war field. It is no wonder there are not more places like BlackWater for them to run to, but keep your eyes open because they are on the way according to one post on here…....but oh yeah, back to those movies I mentioned before…. Mercs going out and doing things that made your skin crawl because you could not believe the levels they had sunk to survive. Remember Commando with Arnold and his band of mercs? Sure they were going up against an alien that was one bad mo’fo, but those were some hard dudes, but then again the next movie about the alien had him going up against Danny Glover playing a cop? There are no aliens in Iraq. There is no need for mercs in Iraq. If our “military” can not do all that is encompassed in this failed endeavor then they should not be there. US diplomats should not be there. This war should not have been started, but now that it has and it keeps getting worse it is time to be done with it. It is a war of agression. America has broken the rules.

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By Frank, October 4, 2007 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

JEP, if I thought I was the ultimate authority over the definition of the word, I would have said it means such-and-such because I say so. What I did was refer you to an international legal definition accepted by all the signatories to the Geneva Conventions. Yes, that definition has a bit more authority than anything you can offer as an personal definition. It is also the definition used by the UN today and nearly every major media outlet, so you’d better get busy telling them they are all wrong, too.

Ernest, it seems your main issue with contractors is their salary level? How much is too much money for someone risking their life every day to protect people in a combat zone?  Who cares if they are private or public as long as they are Americans working for the US? I can’t quite understand your rationale.

Thomas Billis, to answer your question about when private contractors or ‘mercenaries’ have been employed by the US before, the most famous case that comes to my mind is the American Volunteer Group of WW2, better known as the Flying Tigers, who were former US flight officers recruited and financed by the US government and paid through a private shell company as “contractors”. At the time of the groups formation, the US had not officially entered the war with Japan yet, but President Roosevelt wanted to assist China in the war effort against Japan anyway.  These men were offered early release from their US military obligations and paid a salary several times higher than they would have received as Air Force regulars.  Once the US was officially in the war, The American Volunteer Group was brought back into the regular Army Air Force fold and redesignated the China Air Task Force, and later the 14th Air Force. Through all of this, the Flying Tigers were under the command of Claire Lee Chennault,  who was reinstated from ‘private contractor’ back into an official Army officer when the unit became officially reintegrated again. 

These “private contractors” of the American Volunteer Group were celebrated as heros who greatly aided the war effort against Japan, by both by the United States and the Chinese Government of the time.

My grandfather served with the Flying Tigers in China, though exclusively as a regular Air Corps Officer. He knew many of these men who had been contractors. He had nothing but respect for them.

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By riya, October 4, 2007 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Blackwater is coming soon to a town near you!  For over a year now, the tiny town of Potrero, Ca, just east of San Diego, has been fighting an 820+ acre development, right up against the CNF’s Hauser Wilderness, home of protected Golden Eagles (whom Blackwater developers actually said “they would feed”).  It will have several gunnery ranges, a landing strip, a helicopter pad and buildings enough to house a ton of dissidents.  Oct 6th and 7th a protest is being held, with a campout in Potrero Park.  The likes of Duncan Hunter and Diane Jacobs have helped greased the wheels for this project, cutting environmental assesment time frames in half.  Mussolini had his Blackshirts, Hitler had his Brownshirts, and Bush and his Neo-Cons have Blackwater.  This development, called Blackwater West, does not only NOT belong in this beautiful little town, it doesn’t belong anywhere in the USA. This has gotten little attention nationally, but maybe now folks will pay attention.  Because this is what’s in store for all of us, they plan to build these militia bases all over the US.  It’s happening NOW.  Google “Blackwater West in Potrero CA”, see what’s been going on.  And be afraid.

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By kevin99999, October 4, 2007 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This American style wild-wild-west being unleashed world wide.  We Americans are being increasingly being perceived as arrogant crazy people.

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By Joe the Green-Dog Democrat, October 4, 2007 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some answers to Sam Snedegar’s questions might be found in The Green-Dog Democrat e-zine’s Oct. 3 issue, which is a comprehensive examination of Blackwater and the Bush Republicans’ privatization of American security and military.  The seven-article examination includes Robert Sheer’s Sept. 18 commentary on Blackwater.  The issue is posted at http://mytown.ca/green-dog/ .

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By mthompson, October 4, 2007 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Blackwater an other bushy friend. Eric princes billionaire father was a big republican contributor and his sister married another republican dynasty. Check it out.

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By cann4ing, October 4, 2007 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Ron Ranft is correct in noting that America needs to get out of the war business.  But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this “war business” began with the Bush administration or Blackwater.  America has been in the “war business” for the past sixty years.  The “war business” is the military arm of U.S. imperial hegemony.  As noted by Chalmers Johnson in “Nemesis:  The Last Days of the American Republic,” “since 1947, while we have used our military power for political and military gain in a long list of countries, in no instance has democratic government come about as a direct result….The unintended result of this record of militarism is the contemporary Leviathan that dominates Washington, threatening our nation with bankruptcy, turning many of the organs of our ‘free press’ into Pravda-like mouthpieces, and disgracing the nation by allowing our young men and women to torture….”

The “Leviathan” Mr. Chalmers referred to is, of course, is the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about in his 1961 Farewell Address.  Throughout our history, dating back to the American Revolution, war has always been a profit-making venture for the arms industry as well as a means of imperial conquest—something Tao’s ancestors could well have attested to as the victims of a sea-to-shining sea conquest under the racist doctrine of Manifest Destiny.  What is new is that the successive Bush administrations have expanded the profit motive from the weapons manufacturer first to the support functions of the military and now to mercenaries serving as substitutes for the military—a scheme that permits the executive branch to better conceal the true cost of imperial conquest while further enriching what George Bush refers to as his “base”—“the haves and the have mores.”

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By ChicagoGuy, October 4, 2007 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What I find utterly amazing is the fact we even have those private contractors involved in this bogus war. These contractors are not held accountable by US law, nor by Iraqi Law and not even by the Military Code of Justice. If this is indeed a war as Bush & Company believe, then the US Military should be in complete charge of all personnel yet, this is not the case at all.

This administration is in essence saying that our US Military is NOT capable of protecting US diplomats. What garbage! Blackwater is nothing but a bunch of overpaid thugs. Get them out of Iraq now! If this administration feels they need more support then let them bring back the Draft rather than pay a bunch of lawless thugs a salary 10 times or more than the average military equivilent.

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By Thomas Billis, October 4, 2007 at 4:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Somebody with more kinowledge of the Constitution help me.It is Congress’ duty to raise and maintaqin armies.Where in the Constituion is the clause that the executive can raise and train its own Army.This Army owes it allegiance to Blackwater which in turn owes its allegiance to the Pres of the United States.Not to the constitution or country to a man.When in previous conflicts have mercenaries been employed?To keep his private army does George Bush go into Iran?When the conflict in Iraq closes down and these mercenaries want a piece of the oil action in Iraq do we send the US armed forces in to get rid of them.We have no control of the Presidents Army now.Maybe instead of calling them mercenaries we can call them our Hessians.One more reason for the Founding Fathers to be spinning in their graves.

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By TAO Walker, October 3, 2007 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

RonRanft (#104527) is of course right in suggesting that every analogy breaks down at some point….and also that the global gangsters’ main objective now is to get rid of the evidence as fast as they can.  The “slaughter-houses” of war, though, still serve that purpose quite well.  So much so that the evidence mostly gets rid of itself….at a profit to the “investors.”

There may be some tame two-leggeds in places in the herd who’re not even marginally aware of what’s happening to them.  Most of those this old Indian can observe are at least anxiety-ridden, however, and keep their heads down not “blissfully,” but from rank fear of what they’ll be faced with otherwise. 

As for those “drovers,” not a one of them dares look behind theirself, either, sensing the ravening presence there of what they’ve sold-out to in their vain and desperate attempt to prolong the agony of their own miserable half-“lives.”  They’ll go over that cliff right after the herds whose plundering they’ve aided and abetted.

That’s unless something like lightening strikes, and throws the whole cockeyed pyramid scheme for a loop….as JEP hinted (#104482).  Then it’d all be up-for-grabs, and the devil take the hindmost.

Our GreatGrandParents saw all this coming a long time ago.  They said we should expect it to turn out in the end a whole lot different than it looked like it would going in….a whole lot better, that is, for us Ickche Wichasha.  Our tormentors are in for some big surprises.  So are our domesticated Sisters and Brothers.

This old Savage figures it won’t be the former who’re pleasantly surprised.  The latter might be….if they’re lucky.

HokaHey!

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By Basim Najjar, October 3, 2007 at 11:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems this war is no longer about oil but more about fashion. It seems that is west where the less clothes you wear is the better and the east where the more clothes you wear is the better: people are really fighting about the way humans should dress!

I noticed since 911 people who wear clothes from the east are not only looked at different they are shot at or arrested. I hate to say it but people who wear typically eastern clothing even make liberals uncomfortable. So until somebody comes up with some uniform dress code for the planet we will be in a state of war!
http://www.bdogmania.com

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By cann4ing, October 3, 2007 at 9:03 pm Link to this comment

Well, Frank, while I do not agree that the only source for the meaning of the word “mercenary” is to be found within the confines of the 1949 Geneva Convention, assuming it were, perhaps you can tell me where in the 1949 Geneva Convention the words “security contractor” appear.  If you don’t like the word “mercenary” why not refer to them as “private soldiers of fortune?”  The fact is that the word “mercenary” has always had a broader definition than the one you use. 

Arguments about broad or narrow definitions of “mercenary” are tantamount to a dispute as to how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin.  You can split hairs all you want.  The plain and simple fact is that we deal with a murderous band of well-paid, heavily armed men who act with impugnity because the Bremer edicts granted them full immunity from all Iraqi laws.  These edicts, along with others that privatized 292 of Iraq’s 293 state owned industries and placed them in the hands of the multinational corporations, were inserted into the final draft of Iraq’s constitution at the eleventh hour by Ambassador Khalizad and a small hand-picked group of Iraqis, then ratified at an Oct. 2005 plebicite when 9.8 million Iraqis voted to ratify a constitution they had never seen—Orwellian democracy, Bush style. 

What we are talking about are private soldiers for hire.  As to the level of skills, the best of the Blackwater mercenaries/security contractors/thugs (select one) possesses the same skills as active duty U.S. special forces, yet their pay is often six times as high.  The mercenaries Blackwater retains from Latin American forces often possess skills well below that of U.S. and British special forces, yet they still receive wages far and above our active duty forces.  And then, of course, we deal with middle men, like Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, who rake in millions based on the per capita daily billings to the U.S. government.  If we are going to talk about relative worth, try comparing Prince’s enormous profits to the salary of a U.S. General.

That said, I am pleased that you are an adherent to following the Geneva Conventions, as well you should be.  Under our Constitution, our international treaties are the law of the land.  The Geneva Conventions, which were first enacted in 1864 are binding on all parties to those agreements.  Article III of the Nuremberg principles states:  “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”

Under international law, the initiation of an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation is regarded as a “war of aggression”—the ultimate war crime since all other crimes flow from that initial act.  This particular war crime is so serious that the German foreign minister was hanged for his role in the preemptive attack on Norway during WW II. 

If you are going to rely upon the Geneva Convention for your definition of “mercenary,” Frank, you best take into account that the definition provided assumes the existence of a lawful conflict among states—not an unlawful occupation that is the product of an illegal war of aggression.  Within that context, Blackwater is not simply a security contractor working for America in a “war zone,” as you put it.  Blackwater, along with Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et al are co-conspirators engaged in the ultimate war crime.  (Of course, the Bush regime is up to its neck in other war crimes, such as torture and extraordinary rendition—oooh, I can’t wait to hear your Bibbee definition of torture, Frank—or are you prepared to accept the Geneva definition.

I don’t know you personally, Frank, but your posts typify the type of pick-and-chose mentality of the neocon apologists for this illegal, imperial conquest to which Blackwater is a party.

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

Next time you meet an Iraq War vet, ask him or her what happened every time their convoy met a Blackwater convoy coming head-on on the road…

Very revealing…

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By rowdy, October 3, 2007 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

VERNE ARNOLD how did you miss this one? the constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper…george bush. clearly he was lying when he promised to uphold it.

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By Ron Ranft, October 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An interesting post TAO but I would like to point out that rather than being headed towards a slaughter house it is more like a precipice. The Drovers have no intention of using the herd in any meaningful way. The herd is just a cash cow and cannon fodder. The 30% you talk about are not corralled, they are the ones joyfully running for the cliff. The rest of the herd is just grazing, head down, blissfully heading the same place only slower. Some of the animals know where they are going and keep trying to tell all the other animals but there aren’t enough of them to do anything about it themselves. As you said, the ones that try to escape their destination either slip away or they are caught and dealt with in such a way as to make an example of them.

We are seeing something of what you describe in Myanmar. The total number of troops number a little under half a million with the population of 48 million. If the people all wanted their rights and freedoms the military could not stand against them. They could smother the army with human wave attacks. The problem is that no one wants to be in the first row!

As for Blackwater. Blackwater operates in other countries. They have a large presence in Somalia as well as some other countries and there they do not have “security” contracts. They recruited a whole battalion of Special Ops from Chile. They were trained at the School of the Americas for Pinochet. They do for the US what the US Military is not allowed to do because they are outside the law.

There is an organization founded and funded by Erik Prince called the Foreign Contractors Association that is the mouthpiece for Blackwater, Triple Canopy, etc trying to convince us that they are not mercenaries. I suspect that Frank works for them. What we are seeing is the fruition of Rumsfield’s plan to privatize everything Military. If you look at Myanmar’s governmental structure I think you will see what the NeoCons have in mind. Myanmar’s government and all the industries and military are all part of the same group.

Blackwater is a corporation that needs to be put out of business. Americans need to get out of the War business. The reason we have bridges collapsing and killing people, the reason we have an ever diminishing educational system, the reason we don’t have a universal healthcare system, is because we spend all our money on War and War related machinery. The technology that could be used to make our lives better is killing us in more ways than one!

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By Outraged, October 3, 2007 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

“why did State Department employees and their bosses in Washington tolerate—and pay to conceal—the wanton murder conducted on their watch?”

Thank you Mr. Scheer.  This is exactly what I was thinking.  How can they in any stretch of the imagination defend their actions.  They knew.  They just didn’t care. 

It also never ceases to amaze me the bizarre “connections”.  Like the swastika building owned and I’m assuming built by the NAVY. Since the seebees are the construction arm of the NAVY.  Similarly, more often than not these blackwater agents are NAVY seals.  WTF?

This is when I know, I’m not crazy. THAT’S CRAZY!

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment

Frank, let me be frank…

You just aren’t “the” person who determines the “simple concept” of what the definition of mercenary is, and your arrogant assumption of authority over the framing of the word just lets us all know you are one of those self-appointed authorities who, by constantly repeating your opinion as fact, you assume the rest of us are just going to follow you lemminglike into your own delusions.

But, one thing I know for certain about “framers of a feather” they never change their arrogant opinions because their very ego depends on being right, no mateter how wrong you are.

The first step in recovery is confession, the second it contrition.  I doubt you are capable of either, your entire identity depends on being right in your own mind.

No one will convince you that you are wrong, and I would bet a million Blackwater bucks you actually think you won some kind of debate here.

Enjoy your imagination while it lasts.

But, just for the record, you are simply wrong about this and no amount of flailing about with the same wasted words, over and over, will actually convince us, or anyone with an IQ higher than W’s, the way you have convinced yourself.

And who cares if you work for Blackwater or not, you work for your own deluded ego, that’s even worse.

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By heavyrunner, October 3, 2007 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

I have read Jeremy Scahill’s book on Blackwater.  He documents that not all the soldiers of fortune employed by Blackwater are from the U.S.  In fact, a sizable contingent of them are former special force soldiers from Pinochet’s Chile.

That sounds like a dictionary definition of mercenary. I consider the U.S. born soldiers of fortune mercenaries too.

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By waxman, October 3, 2007 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

frank 104490 SINCE YOU DO SO WELL DEFINING MERCENARIES, PERHAPS YOU WOULD DEFINE PRESIDENT (as in Bush) FOR ME…..

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By Frank, October 3, 2007 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Why am I not surprised that some of you can’t grasp this simple concept. Mercenaries are combatants who do not work for their own country. Got it?  That is not just a technicality in terms of definition, that is the entire point of why mercs are viewed disfavorably.  Blackwater’s US employees serving in Iraq are Americans, working for America, protecting Americans in an American war zone.  That is soooo not mercenary, people.

Ernest, if your understanding of things in this world is framed by Websters definitions, you are going to be one intellectually limited individual. How exactly did you divine that US security contractors working for the US are working “merely for wages”? Do you have psychic insight into their motivations? Are you suggesting that all of these men, most of whom are former US military personnel who previously served their country for a pittance of a salary, suddenly no longer have loyalties to their country and no longer care about the American war effort in Iraq or the fellow Americans they are protecting or fighting alongside?  That’s one hell of a presumption.

Moreover, Ernest, if you re-read my original post, nowhere did I say that Blackwater employees were limited to Americans.  I was addressing “American, British, and Iraqi employees of Blackwater serving in Iraq”, because none of them are mercenaries.

And just so I don’t have to argue definitions with you goofs anymore, the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977,  states that a mercenary is defined in part by the condition that they are “neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict”.   In other words, mercenaries are those combatants not fighting with, for, or alongside their own country in a conflict their country is participating in.  American security contractors protecting American Diplomats in Iraq are obviously working for their own government, under the direction of their government’s agencies, protecting members of their own government,  and fighting the same enemy in the same war alongside their fellow American servicemen.

But I guess none of that matters if (gasp) they are being paid a salary commensurate with their elite professional skill level and the risk factor of the job.  Then, well by gosh they must be ruthless, greedy, will-do-anything-for-money mercenary types. I mean how dare they try to make enough money working for their country to provide for their families in the event of their deaths,enough to cover a mortgage on a decent house, or college educations for their children.

Seriously, as I said before, those that break the rules should be held accountable just like US soldiers, but as a whole they are not ‘guilty by profession’.

Disclaimer for the tin foil hat crowd: I have no affiliation with Blackwater or any security contractor, nor am I a disinformation agent of the CIA/GOP/Zionists/Bilderbergers/Illuminati/Freemasons/New World Order/Aliens/Evil Atheist Conspiracy.  Well, Ok, maybe the last one…

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

“The real “bunch quitter” that threatens to lead others astray is cut-out and dealt with summarily….and with extreme prejudice.”

Tao Walker, you have a wonderful way with words…

So what happens when the herd stampedes?

YEE-HAW, count me in the rabble.

Remember the doberman pups in Animal Farm?
And the pigs who “managed” them?

I think that is analgous to this situation, and those dobies are the ones you mean when you say “extreme prejudice.”

They are the ones doling out that extreme prejudice.

Wonder if they’ll allbe “debriefed” when they come homw.  Some of thema are already talking truth, I have to say I am surprised at my own gut instinct that some of them are also quite contemptful of the bloodthirsty cowboys in their midst.

Maybe they’ll tell us more, before those interesting time get too interesting.

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By TAO Walker, October 3, 2007 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

What follows could probably be appended to just about any item on this site, but since these particular soldier-of-fortune “cookies” are already coming-home-to-crumble, with a vengeance, it might as well go with this one.  This old Indian has regularly suggested here that the actual condition most people are in today is not simply analogous-to but exactly the same as that of factory-farmed and feed-lotted livestock….virtually all “modern” Humans, except for a relative handful of us surviving free wild natural People, are completely domesticated (most often called “civilized”), with more and more all the time being driven (by fear) into “lock-down”-like confinement situations.

In a long and adventurous life, this old Savage has come honestly by first-hand knowledge of (among a few other things) how cattle are “worked.”  Gathering-up a bunch of range stock, and getting them moving toward their pre-destined McBurger-hood, is a kind of secularized ritual with its roots in “antiquity.”  The trick, as old cowboys used to say, is you don’t give ‘em any time to think….just “Keep those dogies rollin’, Rawhide!”

Toward the end of a “drive,” with the loading pens in-sight, and the cattle getting more-and-more suspicious and nervous by the minute, it turns into a sort of “controlled stampede.”  There’s plenty of loud noise and drama designed to get “the leaders” headed through the gates, keeping the rest bunched together with the “drag” pushing hard trying to get away from all the terrifying “state-sponsored” hullaballoo behind ‘em.

This standardized process, on an appropriately larger scale time-and-space-wise, is the same one exactly to which billions of hapless Humans’ve been subjected over the past ten millennia here.  Until today they’re in that “controlled stampede” phase, being driven relentlessly and ruthlessly into what are intended to be the final holding pens just outside the slaughter-houses.  The sound-and-fury (now “shock-and-awe”) of modern warfare, round-the-clock “entertainment” (including the now never-ending “theater” of politics), and unrelieved “economic” anxiety are all part of this, the last big push.

What the drovers (and their bosses) all know, of course, is that a handful of men on horseback (read:  “government”) are no match, really, for tons of Bovine muscle, should those critters ever get it into their heads to make a break for it.  So you never give ‘em a chance to get such rebellious notions.  The occasional one that tries to bolt is driven back hard into the herd.  The real “bunch quitter” that threatens to lead others astray is cut-out and dealt with summarily….and with extreme prejudice.

Now the idea that the foregoing is nothing but an accurate and non-judgemental description of theamericanpeople (and tame two-leggeds everywhere) at this very moment, is so contrary to popular belief that most reading it will jump to the conclusion that this ol’ Hoss must be “CRAZY” (a possibility not to be dismissed out-of-hand, if you ask The Old Woman).  The alternative, that they are themselves caught in the terminal throes of induced delusion, is much too much to take-in and consider on the evidence, for the vast majority (even as a mere “possibility”).

But there it is, nevertheless.  At least 30% of the allamerican “public” is already corralled.  The sturm und drang of “the-global-war-on-terror” is so-far quite effective in keeping the rest of the herds moving panic-stricken in the desired direction.  Time is running out fast, as are chances to break-through the tightening cordons of SECURITY closing-in.  We’re definitely in-for some real “interesting times.”

HokaHey!

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By cann4ing, October 3, 2007 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

The definitions of “mercenary” contained in Webster’s 9th New College Dictionary include:  “one that serves merely for wages: esp: a soldier hired into foreign service;” “serving merely for pay or sordid advantage.”  Blackwater’s employees aptly qualify for either of those definitions.  Moreover, Frank, if you bothered to read Jeremy Scahill’s extended work on the subject, you would find that (a) the employees of Blackwater and the other so-called “security firms” operating in Iraq are not limited to Americans—that amongst those recruited are former members of the military from such murderous regimes as Agosto Pinochet’s, and (b) the U.S. is not the only nation to which Blackwater and its affiliates have offered their mercenary services.

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

‘there does seem to a problem’

duh…

We have an army of American mercenaries (“a soldier who is not a national of a party to the conflict”) willy-nilly killing non-combatant civilians in a foreign civil war (or are you one of those who still won’t callthis a civil war?)

Ask THEM when they’ve had a few brewskies and they still have their “guns” strapped on, if they are mercenaries, most of them will be proud of it. 

Considering the first batch was recruited in “Soldier of Fortune” your argument would probably make most of them checkle. 

You are the naive one.

Unless you’re just doing PR work for “The Company” which completely eliminates all credibility.  But at least the Mercs wouldn’t laugh at you then, for not a=caling them what they are proud to call themselves.

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

“A mercenary is a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army, i.e. a soldier who is not a national of a party to the conflict.”

You mean like the conflict between the Shia and Sunni?

Or is that just not the kind of knowledgabel you acdept.

Framing is everything.

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By cann4ing, October 3, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Under successive administrations, America’s hard-right has perverted the very concept of “government of the People, by the People and for the People” into government as a private venture capitalist partner of a narrow class of wealthy elite who reap the rewards for loyalty to the cause.  These hypocritical proselytes of laissez-faire ideology are entirely dependent upon their crony connections in government as the tool of their monetary success.  All risk is shifted to the American People, while the rewards are divied amongst the crony capitalists.

As Jeremy Scahill noted during his 10/3/07 appearance on Democracy Now!  “Blackwater was a company that basically didn’t exist a decade ago.  Its federal…contract revenue, in 2001 was about $240,000.  Now it’s about $1 billion….This company owes its meteoric rise to the policies of the Bush administration.”

“Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater, comes from a powerhouse conservative Republican family in Michigan.  His father was a major bankroller, not only of the Republican Revolution of 1994, but also a major funder of several of the key groups that make up the core of the radical reliious right.  His dad gave seed money to Gary Bauer to start the Family Research Council….Bauer [was] a co-signer of the Project for a New American Century….”

and:

“Betsy DeVos,...Erik Prince’s sister, is married to Dick DeVos, the heir to the Amway…fortune…and the single greatest bankrollers of the Republican revolution…”

“You can go down the line of other Blackwater executives…J. Cofer Black, the former head of Counterterrorism at the CIA; Joseph Schmitz, the former Inspector General at the Pentagon.  The original lawyer for the company dealing with that Fallujah lawsuit…was none other than Fred Fielding….More recently, their lawyer has been Ken Starr.”

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/03/1349239

It is not just the danger posed by the establishment of a private praetorian guard of paid mercenaries who are unaccountable under either Iraqi or U.S. laws, though those issues are serious in themselves.  It is that the more we privatize the war-making function, the greater the incentive for war profiteers to press this nation into perpetual war.  While the entire concept of privatizing a government perverts its res publica function into a tool of enrichment for the few, there is no area in which this concept is more perverted than when it intrudes into the war-making function because it places profit above lives, both those of the citizens of a nation which becomes a victim to an unjust war of aggression and the lives of our own soldiers, who risk theirs so the CEO’s of Halliburton and Blackwater can live in the lap of luxury.

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By Frank, October 3, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

First of all, American, British, and Iraqi employees of Blackwater serving in Iraq are not mercenaries, by clear definition.  If you think they are, you don’t know what the word ‘mercenary’ means. Mercenary does not simply mean ‘soldier for hire’. If it did it would apply to any regular military personnel who receive a salary.  A mercenary is a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army, i.e. a soldier who is not a national of a party to the conflict. Mercs are thus said to be purely motivated by profit. This is why they are generally looked down on.

In clear contrast, American,  British and Iraqi Blackwater employees are nationals of countries who are parties in the Iraqi conflict,  just as the regular military personnel are, and therefore they are not mercenaries.  The only real significant difference between contractors and regular US soldiers in Iraq is their salary level and specialized missions. Other than that, both the contractors and regular military are working for the “Coalition” (US/British/Iraqi governments), and most probably have the same loyalties to their respective countries.

Most US Blackwater contractors are former US military personnel, many of them Special Operators, who are now serving their country in a conflict at a much higher salary level (arguably more commensurate with their skill level and the risk involved), and generally working in a more defensive-oriented mission (protecting people and facilities), as opposed to regular combat.

All that being said, there does seem to a problem with the security contractors working for Blackwater, with respect to their rules of engagement and lack of accountability.  In my opinion, Blackwater needs more oversight and should not be granted immunity from prosecution for any offense that a regular US soldier would be accountable for.

But, don’t please call them mercenaries. It just makes you sound less-than-knowledgeable.

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By LibertyWatch, October 3, 2007 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

With the total absence of accountability under the shadows of the State and Justice Departments, added to the cash flow of the US Treasury, this outfit strikes me as the perfect storefront for spook ops to perform their assignments without the rule of law getting in the way of operations.

“Plausible Deniablity” to the N’th degree!

Special Ops, out of uniform and out of the Generals command and laws both foreign and domestic. . . Does anyone really believe these are heavy weapon escorts for driving VIP’s about? Great way to wage black ops in a foreign land(s)

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By Hammo, October 3, 2007 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Blackwater was founded by former Navy SEALs and reportedly is staffed with former Navy SEALs.

For a bit more information about SEALs, the following articles might be of interest:

“Navy SEAL officer’s report on ‘remote viewing’ urges ‘transcendent’ intelligence”

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=18354

-  -  -

“Navy SEALs and Marines use positive human traits and virtues for success”

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=19773

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By heavyrunner, October 3, 2007 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

The establishment of mercenary forces is a dangerous game we should not allow in the U.S.A.

Many people decry assertions that question the official story of 9/11. A seldom repeated part of the official story is that, while the 9/11 Commission was granted subpoena power, it was never used.  Incredible as it may seem, there have been no indictments, no trials, and no use of subpoena power to uncover the truth about the worst crime in our nation’s 231 year history.

I went to hear Naomi Klein speak in Santa Barbara last Saturday.  In her new book “Shock Doctrine” she lays out the thesis that shocks, such as coups and natural disasters and terrorist attacks have been used by the free market economist types to institute the anti New Deal/Chicago School anti worker pro Big Capitalist reforms that have brought us to the situation of inequality that saddles the planet today.

Imagine the progressive opportunity that would present itself if the shock of 9/11 revealed itself to be a manipulation. 

I would not be surprised to learn that some of these same mercenaries who murder without conscious in Iraq were involved.  You can be sure that trusted mercenaries and only trusted mercenaries would have been tasked with the dirty work that day.  The eventual monetary payoff for helping instill the fear that has allowed the Bush administration to take the actions it has in Iraq and Afghanistan now runs in the tens of billions.  And the profits for the Halliburtons and Carlyle Groups will approach trillions at the rate we are going.

Why were Custer and Battles given $100 million in cash for guarding commercial airline flights into Baghdad that never materialized.  Why?

(see “Billions over Baghdad” Vanity Fair, Oct ‘07 http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/10/iraq_billions200710

A new, serious Congressional investigation into 9/11 should be a priority for all Americans who care about our country and our future.

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By Eric, October 3, 2007 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What exactly does the US Armed forces do in Iraq if it can’t protect its own citizen diplomats in country to serve? Why isn’t the US Army doing its job protecting embassies, bases, and personnel?

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By Don Stivers, October 3, 2007 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Does not this lead to impeachable offenses by our leaders?  They permit this to continue.

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By SamSnedegar, October 3, 2007 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

“...The man in charge of this empire is Erik Prince, a secretive, conservative Christian, ex-navy special-forces, multi-millionaire…”

Christian? how about pseudo-Christian? The man is no more a Christian than a child molesting priest. His people are KILLERS. I’m not saying a Christian can’t go to war and kill on the basis of doing the “moral” thing, but only when his underlying cause is just and morally the right thing to do. He could even go to war in a bad cause if he had believed the lying propaganda fed to him, but a war over TREASURE will never be a moral cause no matter how it is couched.

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By John Trask, October 3, 2007 at 7:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As has been pointed out by P.W. Singer, author of Corporate Warrior - The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, The misbehavior of these contractors with respect to the Iraqi citizenry “has made them one of the most visible and hated aspects of the American presence in Iraq.” He goes on to state “It is important to note that Iraqi civilians do not differentiate the acts of the private military contractors from the overall U.S. military effort, just because they are outside the chain of command.” The events of the last few days is just further evidence that Blackwater and their other contractor ilk, by their actions are undermining any hope we may have had of winning the trust of the average Iraqi.

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By manifestogr, October 3, 2007 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

“Let the mercenaries have this war, bring our troops home NOW! “

so, its all about the troops

not a word of sympathy for the iraqi dead

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By rodney, October 3, 2007 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Where is Condom-Sleeza Rice? She is the most incompetant Secretary of State we ever had. Worse than when she was National Security Adviser. Will the Democrats continue to allow the Decider to ruin America? We are going to Hell Led by Bush and Cronies while the Democrats give us lip service hoping to win the next election. All while the war continues to drain American lives and resources.

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By ocjim, October 3, 2007 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

It’s the New Praetorian Guard.

Besides a blind ideology of privatization, there is a cynical reason for mercenaries. Americans wouldn’t tolerate a draft. Another 100,000 or so in Iraq won’t be noticed as secretly-funded mercenaries. The opposition party will more readily go along.

Blackwater recently opened a new facility in Illinois and is launching plans for another site near San Diego, though facing opposition there. It is also manufacturing its own armored vehicle and a surveillance blimp.

The man in charge of this empire is Erik Prince, a secretive, conservative Christian, ex-navy special-forces, multi-millionaire, who bankrolls Bush and friends with campaign contributions. Prince and his executives just announced the creation of a new private intelligence company, perhaps a private counterpart to the CIA.

So this is our future: mercenaries to fight our oil wars, to defend elitist government representatives from legions of the poor, and to protect political agendas?

With such forces, leaders don’t have to listen to the wishes of the voters. In fact, if voters try to dismiss despotic leaders, the leaders have their own private armies to dispel and intimidate voter opposition, all paid for by the same voters, but loyal to those who sign their paychecks.

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

So maybe now when we attack Iran we can bring our troops home to protect our own borders from the inevitable terrorist repraisals, while Blackwater ops go play war against Iran?

Let the mercenaries have this war, bring our troops home NOW!

I have this funny feeling though,that when Mini-jab spoke of “another direction” he may be finding a bigger threat in Russia and China than he does in the US.

My question now is, in the ballgame of stealing the Iranian oil, who’s on first?
The US, Russia or China?
Which nation will first decide its future economic interests are best defended by an act of aggression against Iran.

We can’t imagine the armageddon scenario that will unfold if any one, or a pairing of those nations, moves into the Middle east as an aggressor force. We have seen this futility in Iraq, but they just refuse to accept failure so they proceed towards Iran with arrogant certitude, backed by nothing but failure, and a sorry delusion that their grotesque increase in wealth, through their war machine, is proof of some sort of victory.

If we attack Iran, we don’t just have the Iranians to worry about, we will have China, Russia and the EU all bent against us.

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By John Borowski, October 3, 2007 at 4:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The British have a book on how to effectively colonize. They will deliberately use goons to terrorize the population of a forsaken country. This is why they own practically the entire world. They boast that the sun never sets on their empire and I see the sun shining on the US every day. In the future they will boast the stars never set on their universe. Hitler’s brown shirted goon squad used the same tactic to instill absolute terror towards the Jews and their enemies. In the past the US used the terror tactic under Nixon.  To stop the anarchy, chaos, and riots against the Vietnam War he had the National Guard shoot down students in Kent State and Jackson State. What happened, the anarchy, chaos, and riots stopped on a dime and gave back 9 cents change. I pray that the Blackwater goons are not in basic training in Iraq for their real mission in the US.

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By SamSnedegar, October 3, 2007 at 2:51 am Link to this comment

There’s an awful lot of noise about Blackwater these days, but no news. There turn out to be more mercenaries in Iraq than US sojers, and the question I have for the experts is, “what, beyond the State Dept. officials, does Blackwater guard, and why did we put in so many private paramilitary personnel?”

My guess? they will guard our oil as we bring our soldiers home from the battle of Iraq. As you know, my nose doesn’t go far beyond oil as the answer I sniff out for EVERY question. I say that if it’s not about oil, it doesn’t matter to the Bushitter gang of thugs.

I have no reason to offer you, but as Tony Blair once “proved” for us (with regard to bin Laden’s involvement in nine eleven, when he said the proof he was involved is ‘if not he, then who?’), “if it’s not about oil, then what?” Of course Tony had no proof, and there still isn’t proof that bin Laden was even alive to plan nine eleven, and I have no proof that the massive buildup of Blackwater mercenaries isn’t merely another of many ways to rip off the taxpayers in the Iraq war, but when we can lose a billion dollars from pallets of hundred dollar bills sitting around unguarded in Iraq, we don’t really NEED any scams to rip off the taxpayers, do we? No, I think Blackwater is the fascist answer to how to control Iraq when our military presence is no longer defendable.

By the time our soldiers and Marines leave Iraq, the Blackwater troops may be more fearsome to the Iraqis than were Saddam’s Republican Guard and his terrible two sons, Ootie and Cootie.

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By Verne Arnold, October 3, 2007 at 2:21 am Link to this comment

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

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By waxman, October 2, 2007 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

blackwater, dr dobson ,reformed drunks in power and 50+ million who voted that way makes me proud that I’ll go to HELL…...

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