For those of you who didn’t, Scahill offers some sobering facts that should give you a nice case of the heebie jeebies:
We’re talking about a company that was founded by a man named Erik Prince, who comes from a family that was one of the top bank rollers of, not only the “Republican revolution” of the 1990s that brought Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America to power, but also the rise of what we now know as the religious right or the Christian conservative movement. Erik Prince’s family helped James Dobson found Focus on the Family. Erik Prince’s family gave the seed money for Gary Bauer to found the Family Research Council. Erik Prince himself is a major bank roller of President Bush, his allies, and the Christian conservative movement in this country.
Nervous yet? As they say in those late night infomercials, “But wait! There’s more!”…
First of all, the law that technically governs contractors and mercenaries in Iraq is provided under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000. Basically what that said is that the FBI and the U.S. attorneys in the United States are responsible for prosecuting contractor crimes committed in Iraq or Afghanistan. With 100,000 contractors running around Iraq, what prosecutor from Virginia is going to fly over to Iraq, investigate a murder, interview Iraqi witnesses, then capture this person, bring them back to the United States, and prosecute them? It’s one of the most ridiculous, fanciful concepts that I’ve seen in this war.
The mercenary industry loves the current state of affairs is because it’s totally unenforced. On paper, yes, there’s a law that governs contractors in Iraq. In reality, only one contractor has been indicted for any crime or violation in Iraq. Either we have 100,000 saints running around as contractors in Iraq, or something is very rotten. I happen to think that something is very rotten.
And then Scahill reports this ominous development:
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Blackwater started a domestic operations division of its company, and it began seeking greater contracting opportunities domestically inside of the United States. At one point, the federal government was paying Blackwater about $240,000 a day for Hurricane Katrina. The company was billing the government $950 per day, per Blackwater man deployed in the hurricane zone. They had about 600 guys stretched from Texas all the way through the Gulf region.
Now Blackwater’s been in negotiations with several state governments in the United States. Blackwater met recently with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about doing disaster response in California. They’re opening up a new private military base in San Diego. Another one is in Mount Carroll, Illinois. They have applied for operating licenses in every coastal U.S. state. This is the expansion of a privatized army.
Now if you aren’t worked up as yet, maybe this will get you just a tad exercised:
This Administration brought in an incredible number of people from corporate America to run the Pentagon. You have the neoconservative ideologues, on the one hand, and then you have the weapons manufacturers on the other hand. That made up the core of the Pentagon leadership. They’re obsessed with running government like a venture capital firm.
And that has a number of benefits to it. It really removes the Congressional oversight factor from the equation when you’re operating with an increased presence of the private sector. Also, you keep corporations alive and profitable. You’re able to keep the businesses of your friends and your political supporters alive. We’ve seen an absolute revolving door between the weapons manufacturers, the war servicing companies, the mercenary companies, and the Republican Party and the Republican leadership, and this Administration.
This is part and parcel of running the government like a corporation, where the citizens are essentially subjects of this privatized government. The military is perhaps the most prominent example of that right now, but we also see it in our schools, prisons, state and local governments, and in law enforcement agencies. The fact is, in the United States right now, there are more private security operators than there are actual police officers. That’s an extraordinary development in the history of privatization.
What all this means for us as
consumers – er – subjects – er – citizens is that a huge private army of mercenaries is being created by a rabid adherent of the Religious Right who is a close personal friend of Bush. This raises all kinds of questions about where their loyalties would lie – after all, they’re paid corporate mercenaries, not soldiers of the empire – er – republic.
And this army is being created with taxpayer money.