Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Book Review: Blackwater
Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army is a detailed and fascinating chronicle of a private corporate army run by Christian supremacists that subscribe to the idea of imposing their morality on the world. The company was founded by Erik Prince a young silver-spooned Christian wacko, whose father, Edgar, was an influential billionaire who gave millions to right-wing religious causes. Blackwater started as a small training facility in North Carolina in 1999 but after 9/11, went on to make over a BILLION dollars on the war on terror, mostly from contracting their “security” services to guard top government officials in Iraq. They operate outside the law and can kill anyone they want for no reason, which often happens, without any repercussions. This is possible because Paul Bremner, who was running Iraq the first year, handed down “Order 17” that stated private contractors could not be prosecuted under Iraq law.
The Blackwater men are mostly drawn from retired Army, Navy, and Special Forces, as well from other countries like Chili and South Africa, where those troops took part in the torture and slaughter of thousands of innocents under brutal dictatorships. In Iraq, they are paid 3 or 4 times more than an American soldiers and are often blamed for inciting hatred among insurgents and citizens, consequently doing more harm than good in the war. For Iraqis, the typical Blackwater solider is a picture of everything wrong with America: chiseled bodies, wrap-around sunglasses, goatees, khaki pants, backwards baseball caps, lots of guns and heavy artillery. They drive armored SUVs throughout the country indiscriminately firing at anyone that gets to close to their moving convoys. The stories in this book are horrifying and enraging.
Recently Blackwater have expanded beyond contract security in Iraq. They now operate a company called Total Intelligence Solutions, a private CIA type company run by J. Cofer Black, the legendary US spy and head of the Counterterrorism unit of the CIA for years and one of the architects of the government’s secretive “extraordinary rendition” policy. So now the CIA’s talent, information, and contacts are on sale for corporations and countries to purchase at will. The book explores in depth the other services offered by Blackwater and Prince’s other companies. Without getting too detailed, I’ll tell you- they’re really fucked up. It’s a jarhead fantasy of kidnapping, espionage, and violence.
Blackwater has recently come home and began terrorizing Americans too. They went into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and “patrolled” the city with machine guns. Instead of sending food and supplies in, the Bush administration sent these worthless heavily armed douchbags in- and paid them 73 million dollars! Needless to say, these people are extremely well connected to government. Their ties to the Christian fundamentalists and their donations to crazy hate groups is probably the most disturbing aspect of their existence. Anyway, I’m merely scratching the surface of the evil antics of this company. Scahill goes way deep into it and the book reads like a cinematic thriller. My only complaint is it gets bogged down too much with legal jargon in the middle, and it repeats itself a little. But the main point gets through. Your tax dollars are funding the biggest, scariest, lawless army in the world that wants you to worship Christ, just like they do. Hooray!