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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 08:38 PM
Original message
Blackwater: the entire disturbing picture

A New Breed of Warriors

MOYOCK, N.C. - Today's after-lunch lesson: How to break a man's arm with your bare hands.

The students pay close attention. On a patch of grass under a powder-blue sky, they pair off to practice the moves - like the steps to some merciless dance:

Hold here. Pivot there. Trap arm. Bend. And snap.

Slavko Ilic circles the grappling forms, darting in to shout encouragement or correct a technique. He's an extra-large martial arts expert. He sports a shaved head, chiseled arms and the look of a man who does not back down.

"Again!" Ilic barks. "Do it again!"

<...>

On the other side is Blackwater USA, a booming private military company that's helping put a new face on 21st century warfare.

Only the authorized get past the gate. A buzz-cut guard sees to that, a handgun strapped to his thigh. Inside, a winding road leads to the heart of the 7,000-acre compound - a bigger spread than any military base in South Hampton Roads.

<...>

Just past a 15-acre lake is the new nerve center: a 65,000-square-foot headquarters with 300 rooms. Opened this spring, it is the largest building in Camden County. Machine-gun barrels serve as handles on the heavy front doors. A receptionist sits behind a desk fashioned from armor plating.

more


Blackwater: Profitable Patriotism

<...>

But in 2000, in the fallout from the terrorist attack on the destroyer Cole, Blackwater found its future: providing security in an increasingly insecure world.

There is nothing humble about the company today. In March, Fast Company business magazine, under the heading Private Army, named Blackwater President Gary Jackson No. 11 in its annual Fast 50 list of leaders who are writing the history of the next 10 years. It made special note of the companys estimated 600 percent revenue growth between 2002 and 2005.

Blackwater has rocketed from obscurity to the big time in less than a decade. Peter Singer, author of Corporate Warriors and a scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, says that although Blackwater might not be the biggest player in the private military industry, theyve certainly gained the biggest profile.

Theyve done it with deep-pocket backing, high-powered political connections and an uncanny knack for capitalizing on the violent milestones of a turbulent time.

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Blackwater: On the Front Lines

<...>

Executives of the North Carolina-based company landed a meeting with Paul Bremer III, the diplomat chosen by Bush to head the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq's interim government.

"Nobody had really figured out exactly how they were going to get him from D.C. and stand him up in Iraq," Blackwater President Gary Jackson said. "The Secret Service went over and did an assessment and said, 'You know what? It's much, much more dangerous than any of us believed.' So they came back to us."

In August 2003, Blackwater was awarded a $21 million no-bid contract to guard Bremer, and U.S. agencies have been tapping the Blackwater well ever since. The company now has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq - the most it has ever had.

<...>

In fact, the private sector has put more boots on the ground in Iraq than all of the United States' coalition partners combined. One scholar, Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution, suggests that Bush's "coalition of the willing" would be more aptly described as the "coalition of the billing."

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Blackwater: When Things Go Wrong

<...>

According to the lawsuit, Blackwater broke its contractual obligations to the contractors by sending them into hostile territory in unarmored vehicles without automatic weapons or a rear gunner.

The lawsuit says: Blackwater cut corners in the interest of higher profits.

Blackwater wont talk about Fallujah now, but eight days after the ambush, Patrick Toohey, a senior company executive, told The New York Times that the company had already made changes in its tactics, techniques and procedures.

Today, Taylor will say only: We dont cut corners. We try to prepare our people the best we can for the environment in which theyre going to find themselves.

The lawsuit says otherwise, alleging that a Blackwater employee refused to give the team maps of the area, telling them it was too late for maps.

They were sent on a suicide mission, Helvenstons mother said.

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Blackwater: On American Soil

<...>

For battle-hardened Blackwater, New Orleans appears to be gravy work at least at this point. Its the tail end of a milestone mission: the private military companys first domestic deployment an undertaking that, at its height, employed close to 600 of the companys contractors.

Blackwaters men were among the first outsiders to reach the Gulf Coast after the costliest hurricane in U.S. history made landfall Aug. 29. The companys quick response led to a windfall of work, both government and commercial.

It also has affected the way disasters within the nations borders will be dealt with in the future. Katrina woke Americans to the harsh fact that calamities can overwhelm even the government, and rescue can be a long time coming. Some people girding for the next one have already laid plans to hire their own deliverance from companies like Blackwater.

At first, Blackwaters arrival set off alarms in New Orleans. The companys work in Iraq has forged a soldier-of-fortune image, and nerves jangled when Blackwaters commando-types surfaced on the streets of Louisiana, outfitted with body armor and assault rifles.

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Blackwater: New Horizons

<...>

Blackwater wants all doors open. The company says it has more than two dozen projects under way, an almost dizzying pursuit of new frontiers.

<...>

The company confirms that it does recruit in foreign lands. Taylor said Blackwater has hired roughly 20 Filipinos for guard duty in Afghanistan, where there is no ban on such work.

A few years back, Blackwater created a diplomatic embarrassment for Chile by recruiting Chileans who had trained under the ousted regime of military dictator Augusto Pinochet. The new Chilean government was concerned about its country's reputation abroad and worried that the former henchmen of a toppled dictator would not represent it well.

Similar concerns surface here at home about the way America's private military companies represent the country overseas.

Thomas X. Hammes, a retired Marine colonel, encountered U.S. contractors during his 2004 tour of duty in Iraq. To the Iraqi people, Hammes said, those contractors were America:

"We are held responsible in the people's eyes for everything they do, or fail to do."

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The shadow war in Iraq

Blackwater Chief at Nexus of Military and Business

Top Shiite cleric (Sistani) hits out at Iraq security contractors

Officials balked on '05 Blackwater inquiry (State Dept. e-mails discussed how to deflect questions)

Iraq cabinet okays law to end foreign firms' immunity

Blackwater Launches Campaign Urging Supporters To Influence Congress With Misleading Spin

Did Blackwater sneak silencers into Iraq?


Blackwater Mounts a Defense With Top Talent

By JOHN M. BRODER and JAMES RISEN
Published: November 1, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 Blackwater Worldwide, its reputation in tatters and its lucrative government contracts in jeopardy, is mounting an aggressive legal, political and public relations counterstrike.

It has hired a bipartisan stable of big-name Washington lawyers, lobbyists and press advisers, including the public relations powerhouse Burson-Marsteller, which was brought in briefly, but at a critical moment, to help Blackwaters chairman, Erik D. Prince, prepare for his first Congressional hearing.

Blackwater for a time retained Kenneth D. Starr, the former Whitewater independent counsel, and Fred F. Fielding, who is now the White House counsel, to help handle suits filed by the families of slain Blackwater employees.

Another outside public relations specialist, Mark Corallo, former chief spokesman for Attorney General John Ashcroft, quit working for Blackwater late last year because he said he was uncomfortable with what he termed some executives cowboy mentality.

Blackwater is pursuing a bold legal strategy, going so far in a North Carolina case as to seek a gag order on the lawyers for the families of four Blackwater employees killed in an ambush in Falluja in 2004. The company argues that the dead men had signed contracts that prohibited them from talking to the press about Blackwater and that this restriction extended to their lawyers and their estates even after death.

<...>

The companys chief Washington lobbyist is Paul Behrends, who worked at the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group, a Republican firm with close ties to the jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Behrends, who now works at C & M Capitolink, a Washington lobbying firm, declined to discuss his work for Blackwater, which has paid his company $300,000 since last year.

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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. K&R
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bonito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
2.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
:)
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fedupinBushcountry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
:kick:
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:15 PM
Response to Original message
4. fascist bastards
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
5. Wow, you and Scahill need to talk! I kid! Great stuff, ProSense-bookmarked! nt
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Thanks, forgot a link:
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:35 PM
Response to Original message
6. K & R & bookmarked.
And I thank you.
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libnnc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:38 PM
Response to Original message
7. Kick for exposure
They have a fleet of aircraft, police boats, and blimps (floating spy centers).


:kick:
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 10:00 PM
Response to Original message
9. Please save this in the Research section so it doesn't disappear into the archives n/t
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-02-07 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. Good suggestion. Thanks! n/t
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file83 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 11:37 PM
Response to Original message
10. K & R - Excellent post worthy of bookmarking.
:kick:
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2 Much Tribulation Donating Member (522 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
11. Blackwater trying to move into San Diego, subject to vote in Potrero (burned) nt
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ForeignSpectator Donating Member (970 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-02-07 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
12. "Did anybody find Scotty's head yet?"...
Saw a TV report about Blackwater last week and I am pretty sure the story was about Mrs Helvenston and her son Scott ( see above "When things go wrong").
He and a Blackwater colleague got caught up in a mob in Fallujah, killed, the corpses mutilated and hung up somewhere in town, heads missing.
And employees who quit Blackwater told the mother that managers at Blackwater started meetings ever since then 'joking' "anybody find Scotty's head yet?", laughing.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-02-07 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Sounds sociopathic.
Gross, really.
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riverdeep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-02-07 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
15. They're trying to make it seem as if Blackwater is some sort of
ultra-elite, highly trained, highly skilled force. Sure, there's training that goes into it, but that's not the reason for their dubious success. I could be highly successful in security too if I could have no rules of engagement, kill anyone I remotely thought was suspicious, the spray and pray method, be backed up by billions of dollars in equipment, and have complete immunity for my actions. They're god damned terrorists, as much as any insurgency.

If American soldiers did what Blackwater does on a regular basis, they'd be court-martialed. This administration knows it, too. That's part of why they're there.
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