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Beast of the Month - October 2007

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Beast of the Month - October 2007 Erik
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2007
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Beast of the Month - October 2007
      Erik Prince, Chairman & CEO, Blackwater USA

      "I yam an anti-Christ... "
      John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the

      "Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one
      holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor
      safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline,
      unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they
      have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men..."
      Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

      September was a month of dubious anniversaries for the Bush Team.
      For one it was the sixth year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks,
      attacks which created the "War on Terror" that has morphed into the
      Quagmire in Iraq. It was also the second anniversary of the
      shocking aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which has
      become, along with Iraq, the most cited example of the failures of
      Bush and cronies. Through the company known as Blackwater USA
      (whose CEO is Erik Prince, The Konformist Beast of the Month) the
      two events have a very noted link.

      Before September, Blackwater wasn't a particularly well known
      group. This all changed when, while escorting a US State Department
      convoy through Baghdad, Blackwater security opened fire on a crowd,
      killing 17 and injuring another 24. Despite Blackwater's claims
      that they were responding to gunfire, eyewitness and video evidence
      contradicts this, and indicates the mass slaying was inspired by
      trigger-happy Blackwater personnel. An Iraqi Interior Minister
      report concluded the shootings began when a solitary Toyota car with
      a couple and child inside didn't clear path for the convoy,
      resulting in the death of all three passengers. (Following the
      assault, the car caught fire, burning the baby to its mother's
      body.) Despite the excessive response to a phantom menace, which
      apparently included fire from above via Blackwater helicopters,
      Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh declared: "There was not shooting
      against the convoy. There was no fire from anyone in the square."
      The Iraqi report bluntly concludes that "the murder of citizens in
      cold blood in al-Nissour area by the Blackwater is considered a
      terrorist action against the civilians just like any other terrorist
      operations." Despite all this and the intense desire in Iraq for
      justice, no criminal charges have been filed yet.

      Incredibly, this may not be the most in-your-face crime perpetrated
      by Blackwater personnel. That would've happened last year on
      Christmas Eve, when a drunken Blackwater member gunned down a
      security guard for Iraqi's Vice-President. Normally, the crime of
      shooting someone while drunk is only acceptable if your name is Dick
      Cheney, but thanks to Blackwater and US Government stonewalling, no
      charges have yet to be filed ten months later. Other allegations
      against Blackwater include charges of arms smuggling into Iraq,
      weapons which were later transferred to Kurdish terrorist networks.
      Meanwhile, they face wrongful death lawsuits filed by families of
      dead contractors, who claim that cost-cutting moves by Blackwater to
      increase profits contributed to their deaths. They cite
      Blackwater's refusal to buy armored vehicles, a move which saved
      $1.5 million but likely led to the deaths of personnel.

      How has Blackwater gotten away with it for so long? Much of the
      credit must be given to Mr. Prince, the billionaire former Navy SEAL
      officer. As a special forces soldier and korporate titan, he
      combines the twin images of comic super villain Lex Luthor as both a
      Superfriends-era jumpsuit-wearing man of action and an eighties
      Trump-esque megalomaniac mastermind. (Or, for you Simpsons fans out
      there, a real life Hank Scorpio.) To say Prince is well-connected
      is an understatement: his father, the late Edgar Prince, founded the
      Family Research Council with Gary Bauer, the Christian right-wing
      lobbying organization that rivals the Moral Majority and Christian
      Coalition in influence. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is the wife of the
      heir to the Amway pyramid scam fortune. He was a White House intern
      under Shrub's daddy (though he isn't kind to Bush I era in
      interviews: "I saw a lot of things I didn't agree with -- homosexual
      groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act,
      those kinds of bills.") Even today, he and his family are big-time
      financiers of the right-wing Christian movement. Given all this,
      it's understandable why all investigations of Blackwater criminality
      and negligence have been hampered by stonewalling from the US State
      Department, CIA and Pentagon.

      But to focus just on Prince may lose sight of the big picture: what
      he and Blackwater are doing (profiting off of misery in Iraq) hardly
      makes them lone wolves in this endeavor. As noted by Matt Taibbi in
      Rolling Stone magazine, Blackwater is merely a large cog in a much
      larger machine of korporate profiteering in Iraq. Taibbi describes
      Operation Iraqi Freedom as "a sort of Willy Wonka's paradise for
      contractors, where a small pool of Republican-friendly businessmen
      would basically hang around the Green Zone waiting for a contracting
      agency to come up with a work order." Bechtel, DynCorp and Donkey
      Dick's former employer Halliburton all have profited handsomely off
      the scam. Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (unloaded
      in April due to activities that even sullied the Halliburton name)
      is of special note for its kreepiness. According to Taibbi, "KBR
      reportedly ran convoys of empty trucks back and forth across the
      insurgent-laden desert, pointlessly risking the lives of soldiers
      and drivers so the company could charge the taxpayer for its phantom
      deliveries. Truckers for KBR, knowing full well that the trips were
      bullshit, derisively referred to their cargo as 'sailboat fuel.'"
      This, along with overcharging the government for services while
      screwing American soldiers with shoddy equipment, is the modus
      operandi of these korporate mercenaries.

      And, in the case of Blackwater, we are indeed talking about actual
      mercenaries. Paul Krugman of the New York Times describes the Bush
      Team's use of Blackwater "security" as soldiers a "hired gun fetish"
      that runs counter to the stark warnings of Machiavelli nearly 500
      years ago. The Prince is hardly an obscure book in the field of
      political science: that they chose to go down the mercenary path
      implies either a BushMob arrogance that lessons of history don't
      apply to them, or perhaps that the whole Iraq Quagmire was a scam to
      begin with to plunder the US treasury with a long, expensive failure.

      Which leads to the other big failure of the Bush years, Hurricane
      Katrina. Two years later, vast areas of New Orleans still have not
      been rebuilt, but that hasn't stopped korporations from plundering
      the tragedy for profit. The most noted profiteers, unsurprisingly,
      include Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyncorp and, of course, Blackwater.
      Perhaps the most repulsive contract pays Blackwater security to
      guard homes in NOLA poor and working class areas (mainly consisting
      of African-Americans) so the residents can't return, forcing them to
      stay in FEMA trailers while their homes (which in many cases are in
      great condition) remain unused. The purpose, alleges journalist
      Greg Palast in his usual blunt style, is to use Katrina as a pretext
      to evict impoverished minorities from their land so it can be
      redeveloped by wealthy businessmen for immense profit. As one
      victim of the fraud put it, "They wanted them poor niggers out of
      there and they ain't had no intention to allow it to be reopened to
      no poor niggers, you know? And that's just the bottom line."

      Will there be any justice for the victims of Blackwater, whether in
      Iraq or Louisiana? Probably not: certainly the Bush Team has no
      interest in punishing their korporate kronies. And even if (as it
      now looks to any oddsmaker) Hillary becomes prez in 2008, don't
      expect things to change much: Mark Penn, Ms. Clinton's chief
      adviser, is CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm retained by
      Blackwater to battle their sudden onslaught of bad press. As any
      mercenary knows, it's good for business to have business relations
      with all sides in a battle.

      In any case, we salute Erik Prince as Beast of the Month.
      Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Erik!!!

      Benen, Steve. "Blackwater `May Be Worse than Abu Ghraib.'" The
      Carpetbagger Report 26 September 2007

      "Blackwater Faces Arms Smuggling Probe." MSNBC 21 September 2007

      Broder, John M. "Ex-Paratrooper Is Suspect in a Blackwater Killing."
      New York Times 4 October 2007

      Chatterjee, Pratap. Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation. New YOrk:
      Seven Stories Press, 2004.

      Krugman, Paul. "Hired Gun Fetish." New York Times 28 September 2007

      Glanz, James and Tavernise, Sabrina. "Blackwater Case Will Go to
      Iraqi Criminal Courts." New York Times 22 September 2007

      Palast, Greg. "They Wanted Them Poor Niggers Out of There."
      GregPalast.com 30 August 2007 <http://www.gregpalast.com/%E2%80%

      Scahill, Jeremy. "Blood Is Thicker than Blackwater." The Nation 8
      May 2006 <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060508/scahill>.

      Scahill, Jeremy. Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful
      Mercenary Army. New York, Nation Books, 2007.

      Taibbi, Matt. "The Great Iraq Swindle." Rolling Stone 23 August 2007

      Tavernise, Sabrina and Glanz, James. "Iraqi Report Says Blackwater
      Guards Fired First." New York Times 19 September 2007

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