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Purveyor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:05 PM
Original message
Feds Probe Blackwater Weapons Smuggling
Source: Associated Press

(09-21) 17:58 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., where Blackwater is based, is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press.

The U.S. attorney for North Carolina, George Holding, and a spokeswoman for Blackwater did not return calls seeking comment Friday. Pentagon and State Department spokesmen declined to comment.

Officials with knowledge of the case said it is active, although at an early stage. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, which has heightened since 11 Iraqis were killed Sunday in a shooting involving Blackwater contractors protecting a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad.


Read more: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/09/21...
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. Rec'd. Their salaries apparently weren't enough, or was this done on behalf
of the government?
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dansolo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #1
31. Not necessarily on behalf of the government
They have their own financial motivations completely outside the political realm. Some might view it as a conspiracy theory that the administration may be secretly supporting the insurgents to justify our continuing presence. But with these private security firms, they have no interest in stability as their profits are driven by the instability. Add to that their blanket immunity, and it isn't surprising that they could be doing this on their own.

That said, it doesn't mean that the people in the government providing the guns have no idea where the gun were ending up.
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MikeNearMcChord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. Blackwater needs to be abolished
Private Mercenary firms have no place in America. This is an organized crime outfit, funded by Wall Street.
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WCGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. You are right on the legalized organizied thuggery....
The first thing the Democratic president should do is command his Sceretries of defense and state to not hire anymore private armed details...

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saigon68 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #2
30. an organized crime outfit Populated by "War Criminals"
Thugs and Hoodlums led by "Gangster Cheney" and his minions
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
4. Blackwater needs "insurgents".
Without "insurgents" Blackwater is out of work. It's like the drug war. Do Colombian drug lords want cocaine decriminalized? Heck no. Do pot growers want pot legalized? Heck no. It's all about the money, and don't you ever forget it. Peace and tranquility is corporate death for Blackwater.
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peacebird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. bingo
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 09:24 AM
Response to Reply #4
27. the saddest day in the Miltary industrial complex history was when the USSR
fell apart.

It was like being a stock broker in late 1929.

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #27
32. Yep. I remember it well.
Good enemies are hard to find.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. k&r
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zabet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
7. I have always suspected BW's operations were
less than 'above board'. I would not be surprised to learn that
BW played a key role in the missing weapons either.

My thoughts...
Blackwater's main purpose in Iraq was to keep shit stirred up so
the war could continue. The longer the war, the more money to be
made by defense contractors, the more oil that is pumped out of the
wells with no metering devices, the longer the US funds the war so
more money can be 'unaccounted for' - stolen....the list is long.
----
Yes..
I think there would be a very noticeable reduction in the
sectarian violence if Blackwater was out of Iraq. I think
they move from area to area, from faction to faction, helping
different groups until they are killed are their numbers cut
low enough, the rest disperse into other factions. It also
would not surprise me to find out that Blackwater was solely
responsible for some attacks that are blamed on insurgents.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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stlsaxman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
39. Testamony regarding Blackwater here- MUST SEE
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Klukie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:49 PM
Response to Original message
8. k&r
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
9. Counter-terrorism MIHOP!
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 08:57 PM
Response to Original message
10. Creating their own job security?
You betcha.
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HughMoran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
11. Blackwater needs to be abolished and owners exiled
.
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Sagan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
12. Treason! Selling weapons to terrorists??


Hang them!
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Baby Snooks Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
13. Probably leftovers...
Probably leftovers from Iran-Contra.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 09:50 PM
Response to Original message
14. Please - I'd love to see this investigation reach all the way
to Erik Prince and see this mercenary company taken down.
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Rosa Luxemburg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 10:08 PM
Response to Original message
15. they are probably all packing as we speak to go to Iran
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Divine Discontent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 10:23 PM
Response to Original message
16. GOOD GRIEF!!!! K&R
please, can congress take control of something (the war would be nice)
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1776Forever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. It is hard to believe it but to most of us it is the terrible horrid truth!
Edited on Fri Sep-21-07 10:35 PM by 1776Forever
It is coming to the top! All the horrid treacherous actions that have been OK'd and condoned by Bush and Co. I have heard a lot of Repub's saying they can't believe the conspiracy that the Dem's put out - yeah right! We have been screaming this for years and now it is finally coming out! :banghead:
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wildbilln864 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 11:15 PM
Response to Original message
18. K&R! n/t
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budibudinski Donating Member (216 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 11:17 PM
Response to Original message
19. Explains why Condi made that emergency overnight trip ..damage control
Edited on Fri Sep-21-07 11:25 PM by budibudinski
SHE'S AS DIRTY AS THE REST.

No wonder Cheney moved his finances out of the USA.How much has that S.O.B. stolen and hidden away on the backs of the US dead & maimed soldiers, and the thousands of dead Iraqis. Kids, Grampas, Gramas, Momas, and daddys. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends & neighbors who have known nothing but terror since the night of Bush's Fucked Up Shock & Fuckin Awe.

People are dead and generations will be forever changed. A Country is destroyed and we are finally beginning to see the truth of it all. It is horrid, what Bush/Cheney and their obsessive greed has done to this world.

Time they are held to account & those who knowingly supported their god-forsaken mission to pleasure themselves.


edit for my very First K&R..& a most worthy one at that
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susanna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 11:22 PM
Response to Original message
20. Now it gets fishy...
Who in/at/of Blackwater pissed off the powers that be? I haven't heard about them AT ALL in the mainstream until this week; now it looks like open season.

On further reflection, I've known about Blackwater for a long time, but 99.9% of USAians have not. Weird that all this is happening. As a disclaimer, my latest brand of tinfoil fits my head extremely well. :-)
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DLnyc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 04:16 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. Good point, but another equally possible explanation:
BW has been so blatantly over the top that what appeared to happen really is what happened: the killing of 11 to 20 civilians in cold blood was so egregious, coming on top of a long line of similar events, that Maliki, probably prodded by popular outrage, lost his cool and called them out. Now BushCo (and new corporate handlers gradually taking over) see BW is too much baggage to carry and so BW is getting thrown under the bus. This way they can say "yes, SOME private security firms have been 'careless', but by slapping BW really hard on the wrist and even disciplining one or two employees, we have shown that only the highest standards . . . blah blah . . . etc. . . ."
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susanna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #24
35. Excellent point.
Thanks for that take on it - makes as much sense as anything these days, which is sad in and of itself.
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spindrifter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
21. Oh, I wouldn't abolish BW--
but I would never sign a contract that gave them absolute free-reign over their behavior. My preference is that we go back to having our own elite military forces providing guard duty for high-value visitors or others who need top-level security. Then sort down to us lesser folk who might need protection moving about and contract with companies that are not loose cannons on deck. AegisIraq used to have postings from some of the weirdos who were looking for security jobs in conflict areas, as well as comments about the drinking and drugging that were going on among some of the security groups--not their own employees. If even part of the postings were reflections of life in those companies, one would not have a lot of confidence.
The other thing that I question is the degree to which some of these security contractor individuals are already suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If they already are hypervigilant and flashing back to previous stressful scenarios, what good are they in making sound decisions about a course of action to take?
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:41 AM
Response to Original message
22. hmmmm
curious
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:44 AM
Response to Original message
23. Gladly recommended. The hell with exile. Blackwater's founders need
to be tried and executed. Life imprisonment will do in a pinch. I don't support the death penalty for ordinary crimes, because of it's frequent misapplication, however for war crimes, crimes against humanity & high treason--this means you, Georgie--I'm all for it.
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budibudinski Donating Member (216 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 07:52 AM
Response to Original message
25. Their Govt contract needs to be rescinded immediately.
I don't pay my taxes for stuff like this. A mercenary army? To protect Bush cronies in Iraq? How much is Blackwater charging the USA?
Anyone know how to find out the cost of their govt. contract?
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 09:26 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. you mean the secret, no bid, national security contract
that won't be disclosed because it would give our enemies critical information?
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freefall Donating Member (617 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #25
29. I googled "value of Blackwater contracts" and got several hits.
the Guardian says it's over $800 million.
the Virginia Pilot says at least $505 million "publicly identified"
Robert Sheer in a September 19 article on Alternet.org says over $300 million

and they got $33 million for terrorizing New Orleans after Katrina.

Gary Jackson, president of Blackwater, speaking of Blackwater’s 600% growth: "This is a billion dollar industry. And Blackwater has only scratched the surface of it.”"

To be fair that quote is somewhat dated and Blackwater may have more than scratched the surface by now. The quote came from the Blackwater section of a document produced by the Campaign for America's Future which I linked to from the web site of the movie "Iraq for Sale." I've seen the movie and thought I had a pretty good understanding of the contractor situation in Iraq but just the few minutes I spent researching the answer to your question, budibudinski, opened my eyes even further.

Peace,
freefall
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budibudinski Donating Member (216 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-23-07 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #29
48. Thank You for making you findings available for us DUers...
Edited on Sun Sep-23-07 10:39 PM by budibudinski
This is such a huge amount of money. This is what we pay our taxes for.
Our kids & elderly & millions in between are eking out a life that gets a bit meager every month.
Health care is not for them either. Americans are far more vulnerable to everything that is 'Not From This Country' in nearly every facet of their lives.
We the people now have a corporate managed, for-profit government, and the greed & lust for power has trampled down voices that speak warnings, and plead for concern.

If it is still possible to halt the direction our government has taken, I have some fears that it has become bigger and a more looming threat to America as we knew it.
I fear Bush's governing policies are evolving, just as planned, according to their own predetermined orders.
I fear that necessary change may no longer come from within America's own confines, but may come about only through the assist of foreign nations.

The billion $ industry you state above was planned, carried out, and approved with little discussion nor knowledge as to Blackwater's actual mission.
Who exactly and why did they approve and give full reign to a mercenay operation such a Blackwater,and knowing full well the depth and cost of this organization.
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Mister Ed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
26. Rec'd. This is the reallity of the "free-market utopia". n/t
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
33. K&R....I'm surprised this is being investigated...Could Blackwater be the culprit and not Iran?
I have no doubt there is some supplying by Iran...but we've learned that wherever the Bushies point the finger...the opposite direction is where the truth lies.
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SnowGoose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
34. And if we bomb Iran for supposedly doing the same thing...
then I suppose the US Air Force will be lobbing some cruise missiles into Blackwater's underground bunkers? Not to do so would simply be be hypocriti... oh, wait. I forgot.

Pssst. Hey G-Dub. When you're trying to remember what Irony means? This might be a good situation to think of.
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Myrina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
36. "The Lord of War" should be required viewing ...
... for just about everyone, IMO. How many of these types of 'business arrangements' are there? One can only imagine ... :(

From IMDB: "This film charts the rise and fall of Yuri Orlov, from his early days in the early 1980s in Little Odessa, selling guns to mobsters in his local neighbourhood, through to his ascension through the decade of excess and indulgence into the early 90s, where he forms a business partnership with an African warlord and his psychotic son."
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
37. Corruption permeates every corner of our government and military.
Why should our contractors be any different?

The Bush / Cheney oil mafia is a crime syndicate.

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file83 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. Exactly - they are all criminals. n/t
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
40. Feds probe Blackwater weapons shipments
Source: McClatchy

RALEIGH, N.C. The U.S. government is investigating whether private military contractor Blackwater USA, blamed for the deaths of 11 Iraqis in Baghdad on Sunday, has been shipping automatic weapons and military goods to Iraq without a license.

Two former Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty in Greenville, N.C., to weapons charges and are cooperating with federal officials who are investigating Blackwater, which is based in the tiny town of Moyock in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.
Two sources familiar with the investigation said that prosecutors are looking at whether Blackwater lacked permits for dozens of automatic weapons used at its training grounds in Moyock. The investigation is also looking into whether Blackwater was shipping weapons, night-vision scopes, armor, gun kits and other military goods to Iraq without the required permits.

A former Blackwater employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the investigation includes a look at whether Blackwater shipped weapons from its Moyock headquarters to Iraq hidden in pallets wrapped tightly in shrink wrap.

.....

In December, the prosecutors obtained guilty pleas from two former Blackwater employees, Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth "Max" Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. The men and their lawyers either refused to comment or did not return calls.
The court files are stingy on details of the crimes: The men each pleaded guilty in January to possessing stolen firearms shipped in interstate or foreign commerce. Barrett, the prosecutor, has twice delayed the men's sentencing because they're helping the ongoing investigation.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/19872.html



Another bit of information from Reuters UK:


The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina reported that two former Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty in Greenville, North Carolina, to weapons charges and are cooperating with the federal investigation.

Court records showed Kenneth Wayne Cashwell and William Ellsworth Grumiaux pleaded guilty earlier in the year to possessing, receiving and concealing between May 2003 and August 2005 stolen firearms which had been "shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce".

The records, which showed both men agreed to cooperate with authorities and testify about any crimes they knew of in plea deals filed last November, did not name Blackwater or Iraq.


http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN2220885920070...
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. Why in the Hell do we allow them to operate on US soil
Surely some Dem lawmakers can outlaw this crap

These Fuckwads well surely as I breath sooner or later be turned against innocent people in this country
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
42. A bit more from the McClatchy piece:
.....

The U.S. weapons-smuggling investigation was mentioned in a letter sent Tuesday to State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who for years has been investigating wrongdoing by private contractors in Iraq.

Waxman didnt name Blackwater but charged that Krongard, the State Department's top watchdog, was impeding an investigation "into whether a large private security contractor working for the State Department was illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq."

Waxman said that when Krongard heard about the criminal investigation, he sent an e-mail ordering his investigative staff to stop work until federal prosecutors in North Carolina could brief him. Krongard delayed the briefing for weeks, then assigned a member of his congressional and media staff, instead of an investigator, to the case, Waxman said.


Krongard disputed the charges in a statement.

"I made one of my best investigators available to help assistant U.S. attorneys in North Carolina in their investigation into alleged smuggling of weapons into Iraq by a contractor," he said.

The prosecutors, James Candelmo of Raleigh and John Barrett of Greenville, did not return phone calls for comment.

.....


Link



It appears that Blackwater is about to receive a lot of unwanted scrutiny. It's about time.


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Vilis Veritas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
43. Aww...come on. Just call Ollie North up to the hill...
Edited on Sat Sep-22-07 03:08 PM by saddlesore
he is bound to be able to produce the right papers...signed by the right people.

And it only cost the American taxpayers 300 million dollars... :sarcasm:

edited to add...i know ollie is not involved, named or even implied i am just speculating largely... ;-)
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
44. America don't need no steenkin Christofascist war profiteering republicons
Stop giving our tax dollars to the LUCIFERIC republicon war profiteering EVIL DOERS
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HuffleClaw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 05:44 PM
Response to Original message
45. ok, first of all the media has got to stop calling them 'contractors'
and secondly, i find it hard to believe that BushCo. is permitting their private army to be investigated at all.
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 05:55 PM
Response to Original message
46. You expected people willing to kill for $ wouldn't smuggle weapons for $?
Edited on Sat Sep-22-07 05:55 PM by emlev
Kinda makes sense they would, doesn't it?







edited for clarity
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spag68 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-22-07 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
47. Check the BBC
When this first happened I swear they reported up to 28 dead. BTW You don't suppose it was Blackwater guarding the 8 billion that went missing. About 40 tractor trailer loads to hold 8 billion.
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