American Culture

Blackwater Flies…

supertucano.jpg Our friends at Blackwater Security are creating their own air force. The company which provides “security solutions” by contract to the United States in Iraq (and is building bases in every coastal state in the US), already has a fleet of armed helicopters which it uses in Iraq. The first of the planes that Blackwater is buying, the Embraer Super Tucano light combat prop jets, will be shipped to the US so that Blackwater may begin training pilots shortly.

So why does Blackwater need an air force?

Well, let’s look at the Super Tucano’s capabilities:

These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work.

So. The planes will be used as air support in the fight against insurgents in Iraq, right? Why else would Erik Prince’s private army want such materiel? But doesn’t our “regular” military do that? So what would Blackwater need such planes for if we have the USAF? Well, let’s not forget this observation by Blackwater expert (and biographer) Jeremy Scahill:

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.

But why would a large private army be needed? Especially with large stateside bases already built and more coming? And with air power at its disposal? Well, as S&R has noted earlier, Blackwater’s founder and “leader,” Erik Prince, has his own agenda, as Scahill notes:

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.

That, added to some of the training that the federal government is giving to clergy to enlist them in “quelling” citizen unrest in the event martial law is imposed after some “disaster” such as a “new terrorist” attack, and Blackwater’s role in New Orleans after Katrina, puts Blackwater’s purchase of war planes in an interesting light. Having planes that are good at counter-insurgency in the hands of a dedicated private army headed by an evangelical dominionist could be a back-up in case pastoral diplomacy fails….

Of course, this could merely be a business decision on the part of Blackwater. After all, as we’ve noted already, there’s no business like war business. And to do business properly, you’ve got to have the right tools….

22 replies »

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  2. Scary. I see from wikipedia that its range is only about 3000 miles … not far enough to safely get it across the pond. So, unless Blackwater plans to buy an aircraft carrier, can refuel these things in flight, or has deals in place with other nations to hop its planes across nigh-connective land masses or something, it’s probably a safe bet their intended use is relatively near where they’re garaged.

  3. Yes, it seems that unless Blackwater is going to pay a heavy price to ferry those planes to Iraq (or pay Brazil to deliver them to Iraq, which would cost about the same) the planes are coming to the US. Of course Blackwater has helicopters in Iraq (we don’t know how they got those delivered) – and tight connections with the Bush White House – so they may get free delivery.

    Then again those planes might not be meant for use in Iraq. That’s the big question….

  4. I suppose it’s all or nothing for Dick, George, and the neocons if they’re taking over. They always seem to have an ace up their sleeve.

    Cause they won’t get another chance after this.

  5. Yeah Dom, that’s my fear, too. This administration has broken so many laws, they’ve made Nixon look downright prudish. Would they willingly hand over the keys to the executive office in January ’09, risking the possibility of prosecution? There may be an unspoken former presidential immunity, but there will surely be investigations. I don’t think they’ll take the risk. I’m very concerned we’ll see some faux act of domestic terrorism used to trigger martial law at some point in the next 16 months.

  6. Yeah Fikshun, eight long years of putting everything in place. Doesn’t make sense to walk away in 09.

    My money’s on a takeover by Darth & accomplice. Georgey may not need that thousand acres he bought for his retirement down in Paraguay last year.

    Well, I’m off to read about the Bolsheviks. Russia claims to have found the bones of the Romanovs last week, all shot or bayonetted. Seems they didn’t like the ruling families back then either.

  7. In the spirit of the late, much-lamented “Daily Brushback” …

    “[Insert name of presidential candidate here], to what extent would your administration encourage the stateside expansion of and overseas use of private, profit-making military corporations such as Blackwater?”

  8. Guys, these are light, prop-driven aircraft. They’re designed for ground attack, and would be absolutely useless against even an obsolete National Guard jet. They would be sitting ducks against anything with ground to air capacity; their armor wouldn’t stop anything greater than small arms fire. The US has nothing to fear from these overgrown Cessnas; their only use is against poorly armed troops, like Iraqi insurgents.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for them to have these planes. Friendly fire, anyone?

  9. Douggerel writes: The US has nothing to fear from these overgrown Cessnas; their only use is against poorly armed troops, like Iraqi insurgents.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but how heavily armed and armored are you and your neighbors?

  10. can you imagine if some oversight committee orders these guys to disarm in the u.s.? waco on bad acid

  11. timmy, supposedly Blackwater did just that – in New Orleans after Katrina. Do a Google search on “Katrina blackwater disarm” or something similar and see what comes up. I’m not confident about the quality of the links you’ll get (which is why I said “supposedly”), but there’ll be a bunch.