Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blackwater (Xe) Should Roll No More

Many of us were up in arms that Blackwater, a private "security" force was sent to Iraq, and New Orleans, while being paid handsomely with our tax dollars. There were a number of concerns with Blackwater, particularly how they were operating in Iraq with impunity, accused of being a bunch of cowboys shooting up the joint. In fact, six Blackwater guards were put on trial for murder after shooting 17 Iraqi civilians. Contractors for Blackwater were also put on trial for their actions in Afghanistan. I hope I am painting a picture here of what kind of organization this is.

The founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince, is a Navy man, is also a Christian of the conservative strand. He has given a bunch of money to conservative causes, including James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" group. Just to set the stage.

And Obama said, as a candidate, that he would not "rule out" keeping Blackwater, now "Xe," in Iraq. Hillary not so much, not even close:
(she) released a statement announcing that Clinton is now co-sponsoring legislation to “ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq,” saying, “The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.”

Uh huh. And what has Obama done since becoming president? He's given Blackwater, aka, Xe, a $70 million dollar contract. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Here's the thing: the founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince, has been implicated by two former employees for murder. Yep. And you are not going to believe this story. It is going to make you SO happy (that's snark) that Obama has chosen to give this man, and his company, more money to stay in the Middle East. I'll give you some of the highlights, but I urge you to read the whole piece (and the author, Jeremy Scahill, has written a LOT about Blackwater. He was a bit snide about Hillary Clinton and her resolve to NOT have Blackwater on the payroll any longer, even though that was in the same article in which he pointed out that Obama the Candidate he wouldn't "rule it out." Still, the articles are worth reading.). To the article:
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

Now is when I remind you that Obama chose to retain this company. A "Christian crusader" hellbent on wiping Muslims off the map. WOW. There's more:
Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe":

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.

This is disturbing on so many levels, isn't it? Naturally, Prince denies any wrongdoing:
In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

Yes, Prince is claiming everything he did was on behalf of the State Department. Oh, sure. I have no doubt that, given how Hilary Clinton spoke of his organization during the campaign, that she was all behind what he was doing in Iraq. Again, that is snark.

So - will Obama be held accountable for keeping Blackwater/Xe on the payroll and at the State Department, or will he pass the buck (again) and blame Clinton, even though she wanted nothing to do with them?

Will Erik Prince get his comeuppance for his private "crusade" against Muslims? Will he be held to account for smuggling weapons into Iraq? If what has been alleged against him is true, he deserves everything that is coming to him. Personally, I am exceedingly offended that this man and his company have been on OUR payroll, operating this way on OUR behalf. What he has been accused of doing is obscene. Just reprehensible.

Tell me again why Obama renewed his contract, because I don't get it (even before these allegations)...


Dr. Monkey said...

It's a good thing one Clinton can get things done in the diplomatic arena. Your heroine Hillary twiddled her thumbs while Bill got the job done and brought home those two reporters. It's a good thing Hillary didn't get elected President because we'd never get anything done if she had been.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Oh, Dr. Monkey - what a funny comment! LOL - love the snark. Especially since Bill went in CONJUNCTION with Hillary. I realize that I am abt to ask you to actually consider some facts, but here's an article you may want to read: Maybe just the title will give you an idea: "In Release of Journalists, Both Clintons Had Key Roles"

Well, I grant you that had Hillary been prez, and she would have been had the DNC not stolen the nomination from her, and the majority who voted for her, we would not have "Prolonged Detention," Warrantless Wiretapping, Blackwater still on the payroll, DADT, DOMA, and the worst deficit since the Great Depression, to name just a few things off the top of my head. And you think that's something to be celebrated? Wow.

Dr. Monkey said...

You live in a dream world if you think Obama is the cause of the record deficits and all the hangover problems that your boy Bush left us with. I know how you people love to lay all the problems of the world at Obama's feet so I'm sure he was also the cause of all the death threats people like you make against him every day and for the shootings in that PA gym too.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

YOU live in a dream world if you think I voted for Bush. Try reading my intro - lifelong Dem until the Dems became the Reps.

Obama VOTED FOR ALL OF BUSH'S BUDGET requests, including the stimulus last year, so he is just as culpable as anyone else.

It's a shame you are incapable of any kind of civil discourse. But sadly, you typify too many Obama supporters.

But lumping me in with anyone who has made a death threat against Obama because I don't fall down and worship at his feet is obscene. And, it keeps you permanently off this comment boards, Mr. Monkey. You should be ashamed of yourself spewing that kind of vitriol. It's clear you have none, though, with such vicious statements. That was the last comment of yours I will post.