|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army Page 2 of 6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)|
|Very good Bob! You have proven yourself a proficient name caller. Thats a start but now you have to put up the goods.|
First Precisely why woudl you stoop to name calling?
Those of us who have been here a while already know that people who simply call names rarely have any thing substantial to back up their position.
So on what point(s) precisely would you like to make your case?
Hey NW MKE Would you please change your nic otherwise the POF ers might think all of us here in milwaukee are nut jobs like you lol
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/17/2007 9:27:26 AM
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government said Monday that it was revoking the license of an American security firm accused of involvement in the deaths of eight civilians in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade.
The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting.
It was the latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior.
Underscoring the seriousness of the matter, the State Department said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned to call Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to express regret and assure him that the U.S. has launched an investigation into the matter to ensure nothing like it happens again.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.
"We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities," Khalaf said.
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer 36 minutes ago
Blackwater is one of many private security companies.
As with anything, some are trained better than others. Blackwater is in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. There missions are varied & are primarily there to support our armed services at different levels.The mercenary label is inappropriate.
Again, as with any organization you'll have rogue members, as with our armed services, you may have a couple, it doesn't mean the entire armed services are without restraint.Blackwater team members are extremely well trained
Thank you for the fresh air. Their is nothing shadow or secret about BlackWater, it cracks me up to hear the CTs talk about them. It just makes me think they are full of it all the way around. They are one of hundreds of security companies working overseas.
Anyone here can hire Blackwater if they have a security issue. Yes, they're expensive, but they're among the best. These guys have put in ten hard years at some of the toughest units in the Military and
they deserve every cent they get both for their skills and the dangerous places they work.
If you can provide the same service at a better price do it! I assure you for a fact that their are contracts aplenty for security people to secure.
I would like a list please of the "Blackwater is one of many private security companies", that are geared up and provisioned to go to war.
Some professional unit we have here alright that is up for hire from "anyone" and takes orders from who ever hires them. That is so comforting to know that anyone with money could drop 50 mill and these guys would get the job done. Even if it were to take over a us city.
So what do you call secret Sun? GW said hey the NAU wasnt "secret" it was right there on our website all this while (buried 14 levels deep).
You did not hear it on the news and lou dobbs was the first one to talk about it over 1 year after the fact!
So you advocate the government "hiding" things from the american people. Next they will be writing it on a piece of paper and claiming that because they floated it down the potomac that they made it public.
Have you heard BlackWater in the news every day like those words we all ove so much "terrorism", "terrorists", "Osama Bin Laden", "Al qaeda". NOT
When a government willfully "hides" or obstructs the information flow to the people or that of the greater population we can legitimately claim it is a conspiracy, unless of course you have some definition for conspiracy I have yet to find in the dictionary.
That and lets not forget breaking the law by giving them a no bid contract otherwise known as "FASCISM".
Fresh air to some equates to methane gas and a captive audience for others.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/19/2007 5:41:00 AM
|By RICHARD LARDNER 1 hour, 34 minutes ago |
WASHINGTON - The fog of war keeps getting thicker. The Iraqi government's decision to temporarily ban the security company Blackwater USA after a fatal shooting of civilians in Baghdad reveals a growing web of rules governing weapons-bearing private contractors but few signs U.S. agencies are aggressively enforcing them.
Nearly a year after a law was passed holding contracted employees to the same code of justice as military personnel, the Bush administration has not published guidance on how military lawyers should do that, according to Peter Singer, a security industry expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
A Congressional Research Service report published in July said security contractors in Iraq operate under rules issued by the United States, Iraq and international entities such as the United Nations.
All have their limitations, however.
A court-martial of a private-sector employee likely would be challenged on constitutional grounds, the research service said, while Iraqi courts do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute contractors without U.S. permission.
"It is possible that some contractors may remain outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, civil or military, for improper conduct in Iraq," the report said.
Blackwater and other private security firms long have been fixtures in Iraq, guarding U.S. officials and an international work force helping to rebuild the war-torn country.
Prior to the March 2003 invasion, however, U.S. officials paid little attention to how prevalent these security firms would be in combat zones and the difficulties their presence could cause, according to Steve Schooner, co-director of the government procurement law program at George Washington University.
"The real problem is when we went into Iraq none of this had been worked out," Schooner said. "We hadn't thought it through."
The result is dissatisfaction on multiple fronts that is tempered by the acknowledgment these hired hands have become an important part of the long-running effort to stabilize Iraq.
"This is what happens when government fails to act," Singer wrote on the Brookings Web site of the incident Sunday involving Blackwater.
Its great that america is so altruistic and are willing to "help" the iraqi's like we are. isnt it?
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/19/2007 11:48:50 AM
A court-martial of a private-sector employee likely would be challenged on constitutional grounds, the research service said, while Iraqi courts do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute contractors without U.S. permission.
"It is possible that some contractors may remain outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, civil or military, for improper conduct in Iraq," the report said.
So , in essence, one can have a private corporate SS shock troop - free of constraint ?
To win hearts and minds, one must have a cohesive strategy. When a Black Water security team can open up on everyone they see in sight , including policemen , without worries - it will lead to more of the same and escalation on both sides - towards the inevitable end result.
Tony Montoya gets to be a Black Water employee now ? "Let me introduce you to my little friend...."
There's been a few examples of abuse posted on sites like YouTube. I remember one with a British corporate security team , filmed by them. Any vehicle that approached from behind was instantly riddled with direct fire through the windshield.
Not quite a warning shot....
Such incidents paint the entire occupying force with the same brush. God knows how many coalition troops have paid the price for their corporate brethren's folly.
At the same time, the incredible salaries they make are drawing many experienced troops out from military service. Their experience, and the money spent training them, is lost to a corporation - thus additionally worsening the situation.
Also, I've read more than one report of US troops having morale problems when they realize they are making a fraction of what Black Water employees make. That's quite understandable, to anyone that thinks about it.
Two guys on the ground, both doing roughly the same type of job, and one gets a princes salary and no oversight - and the other makes far less, and can wind up in jail for life over things the former gets away with an amnesty over.
Sometimes, US forces are actually used to protect corporate convoys. This means the American taxpayer gets overcharged for a shipment, and the company gets "free" security on top of it.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/20/2007 5:15:17 AM
So , in essence, one can have a private corporate SS shock troop - free of constraint ?
Sadly thats what it amounts to. Here is what the geneva convention says about it.
1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.
2. A mercenary is any person who:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) Is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) Has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/20/2007 5:49:35 AM
That describes UN peacekeeping forces.
Uh no, you see peacekeepers don't fufill all the requirements, only a few.
The big one that makes them not mercenaries is that they're not recruited in order to take part in the conflict, they're there to prevent it.
Also their motivation is certainly not financial gain.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/20/2007 4:36:06 PM
what an excellent organization Blackwater USA is and what a wonderful concept it is based on?
A lot of people whine about sending our voluteer (no draft) military overseas, so why not send ex-military volunteer civilians?
There are many problems with mercenaries. One of which is with a civilian army, the public in the end has to support the war and if they don't it wont last long. Which adds another unintended check and balance.
Mercenaries don't care what the mission is for or if its purpose is for a good purpose they only see money and war. They often in history ended up betraying those that hired them because someone else payed more. They often end up training enemies and making more conflicts because they make profits by doing so. It is a horrible idea and it has been proven in history over and over again.
They are a private company, all private companies have oversight. Otherwise, they go out of business. Gotcha!
This is not oversight this is internal affairs. Hardly a form of oversight more like clean up crew.
WRONG! They'd lose their US 'gubment contracts. Butt Laden doesn't have the money to compete with Uncle Sam. Blackwater USA operates out of the USA so working for terrorists is a waste of their time, not enough money in it, and they would lose the money they are already getting. Gotcha again!
And your garauntee that the government does not want this war to continue endlessly and would not train their own enemies as they have done countless times with special ops groups is what? Butt Laden don't have money to compete with the USA? are you that dumb? Butt Laden got TONS of cash and training, FROM the USA. Butt Laden gets TONS of cash from lots of nations/groups who hate the USA as well. Working for terrorists is great for profits, for a group like Blackwater. This is EXACTLY the trick nearly every mercenary group throughout history has done over and over again. "We will protect you from your enemy!" Half the time the enemy was made if not trained by the very group offering the protection. You not so bright are you?
That only applies to SIGNATORY NATIONS not private companies. The Geneva Conventions and ROE's don't even apply to terrorists. So it makes sense to send Blackwater employees after terrorists. Of course of you love terrorists and hate America, then you wouldn't want Blackwater in the area because those poor oppressed terrorists might die or get hurt... sniffle. Gotcha again!
Nice spin. This is exactly why this sort of move is very dangerous for the world. We are throwing away lifetimes of work to make conventions and treaties of which many parts of do MUCH more than lay ground rules for engagement.
Actually some of the YouTube videos plainly show Blackwater employees and US military personnel working together! In some of the videos the US military personnel are taking direction from Blackwater employees. OOOPS! Did you bother to search through and actually watch the videos on YouTube? Gotcha again.
Working side by side and being under the direction in other words taking orders from the military is hardly even close to the same thing. Nice spin again not going to work. Fact is this group is running outside the rule of anyone but, their stockholders and needs for profits. So I would never put it passed them to do what is in their best interest which will eventually include f#$king over the USA.
Never happened to me before so I am not worried. Besides, I'd rather take my chances with Blackwater instead of a LA or 'Nawlins police officer.
Your a genius aren't you? Look if the LA or 'Nawlins police officer does something to you there are direct laws regarding civil rights, that they would be violating of which I might add they swear an oath to uphold, and where you will have recourse in a court of law. There are much fewer laws and rights to protect you, when dealing with these thugs. I bet you anything that if they did you in more than likely no one going to hear about it. If a cop does it bet your ass it will be everywhere.
Actually Waco was an FBI (in other words CIVILIAN) operation, not a military one. Gotcha again. BTW, didn't Waco go down during the Klinton administration and not during President GW Bush's administration? Gotcha again!
Not true it was an ATF matter not FBI.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/21/2007 8:03:24 PM
yep thems the good guys alright!!!
Feds target Blackwater in weapons probe
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 18 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - 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., 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. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C.
The U.S. attorney for the eastern district of 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.
The officials could not say whether the investigation would result in indictments, how many Blackwater employees are involved or if the company itself, which has won hundreds of millions of dollars in government security contracts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is under scrutiny.
In Saturday's editions, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that two former Blackwater employees — Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth "Max" Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. — are cooperating with federal investigators.
Cashwell and Grumiaux pleaded guilty in early 2007 to possession of stolen firearms that had been shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, and aided and abetted another in doing so, according to court papers viewed by The Associated Press. In their plea agreements, which call for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the men agreed to testify in any future proceedings.
Calls to defense attorneys were not immediately returned Friday evening, and calls to the telephone listings for both men also were not returned.
The News & Observer, citing unidentified sources, reported that the probe was looking at whether Blackwater had shipped unlicensed automatic weapons and military goods to Iraq without a license.
The paper's report that the company itself was under investigation could not be confirmed by the AP.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a review of security practices for U.S. diplomats in Iraq following a deadly incident involving Blackwater USA guards protecting an embassy convoy.
Rice's announcement came as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad resumed limited diplomatic convoys under the protection of Blackwater outside the heavily fortified Green Zone after a suspension because of the weekend incident in that city.
In the United States, officials in Washington said the smuggling investigation grew from internal Pentagon and State Department inquiries into U.S. weapons that had gone missing in Iraq. It gained steam after Turkish authorities protested to the U.S. in July that they had seized American arms from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, rebels.
The Turks provided serial numbers of the weapons to U.S. investigators, said a Turkish official.
The Pentagon said in late July it was looking into the Turkish complaints and a U.S. official said FBI agents had traveled to Turkey in recent months to look into cases of missing U.S. weapons in Iraq.
Investigators are determining whether the alleged Blackwater weapons match those taken from the PKK.
It was not clear if Blackwater employees suspected of selling to the black market knew the weapons they allegedly sold to middlemen might wind up with the PKK. If they did, possible charges against them could be more serious than theft or illegal weapons sales, officials said.
The PKK, which is fighting for an independent Kurdistan, is banned in Turkey, which has a restive Kurdish population and is considered a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department. That designation bars U.S. citizens or those in U.S. jurisdictions from supporting the group in any way.
The North Carolina investigation was first brought to light by State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, who mentioned it, perhaps inadvertently, this week while denying he had improperly blocked fraud and corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Krongard was accused in a letter by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, of politically motivated malfeasance, including refusing to cooperate with an investigation into alleged weapons smuggling by a large, unidentified State Department contractor.
In response, Krongard said in a written statement that he "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."
His statement went further than Waxman's letter because it identified the state in which the investigation was taking place. Blackwater is the biggest of the State Department's three private security contractors.
The other two, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, are based in Washington's northern Virginias suburbs, outside the jurisdiction of the North Carolina's attorneys.
Associated Press writers Mike Baker in Raleigh and Desmond Butler and Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/21/2007 8:36:23 PM
Take the words of Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, deputy commander of the Third Infantry Division in charge of security in Baghdad. In September he said this of DynCorp and other security firms in Iraq: "These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force.... They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place."
I wonder who could of been responsible for the initial training of Iraqi security forces, you known, waaaay back at the start of all this.....the one's that didn't accomplish it properly ?
Field training of the Iraqi police, the most critical element of the effort, was left to DynCorp International, a company based in Irving, Tex., that received $750 million in contracts. The advisers, many of them retired officers from small towns, said they arrived in Iraq and quickly found themselves caught between poorly staffed American government agencies, company officials focused on the bottom line and thousands of Iraqi officers clamoring for help.
When it became clear that the civilian effort by DynCorp was faltering, American military officials took over police training in 2004, relying on heavily armed commando units that had been established by the Iraqis. Within a year, members of the Sunni Muslim population said some units had been infiltrated by Shiite Muslim militias and were kidnapping, torturing and executing scores of Sunni Muslims.
In interviews, White House and Pentagon officials defended their decisions, saying that it would have been impossible to find thousands of qualified trainers willing to go to Iraq and that deploying large numbers of foreign officers would have angered Iraqis and bred passivity.
"Where it was possible to have a light footprint, that was preferable to a heavy-handed approach," the National Security Council said in a written response to questions. "The strategy was to support the Iraqis in every way possible and to enable them to do their jobs, not to take over their jobs."
Administration officials say that the insurgency, more than any other factor, has slowed their progress. While field training has been limited, they point out that most of the 152,000 police officers have attended nine new training academies, some for as long as 10 weeks.
This spring, three years after administration officials rejected the large American-led field training effort, American military commanders are adopting that very approach. Declaring 2006 the year of the police, the Pentagon is dispatching a total of 3,000 American soldiers and DynCorp contractors to train and mentor police recruits and officers across Iraq.
One of the cornerstones of making Iraq safer, and they drop the ball doing what they do....best ?
Let's take it right back to the initial stages, when they were planning all this, shall we ?
In February, Robert M. Perito, a policing expert and a former official at the National Security Council and the State and Justice Departments, recommended to the Defense Policy Board that 6,000 American and foreign police officers be dispatched to Iraq. The board advises Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
But at the meeting with N.S.C. officials, General Garner's proposal was met with skepticism by council staff members, who contended that such a large training effort was not needed. One vocal opponent was Mr. Miller.
"He didn't think it was necessary," General Garner said in an interview.
Mr. Miller, who left the government last year, confirmed his opposition. He said the assessment by the C.I.A. led administration officials to believe that Iraq's police were capable of maintaining order. Douglas J. Feith, then the Defense Department's under secretary for policy, said in an interview that the C.I.A.'s prewar assessment deemed Iraq's police professional, an appraisal that events proved "fundamentally wrong."
It seems they didn't want police officers training.....police officers. I mean really, how much money can you make doing that anyway ?
Let's take a closer look at Dynacorp, and maybe that path will lead somewhere...
Even more sinister is the fact that DynCorp manages email and information systems for many federal investigation agencies like FBI, DOJ and SEC. What does that mean? Whenever criminal behavior is detected, DynCorp controls the information, giving it defacto power to subvert the process of law and cover-up corporate-government criminal activities.
And guess who's DynCorp's auditor of record?
It's none other than Arthur Andersen, the best Corporate Cooking-the-Books-and-Shredding-Documents firm money can buy. If this Big Eight Firm did it for Enron, you can bet they're doing it for most of their other clients.
So who's minding the store at DynCorp?
The sordid cast of characters includes Herbert S. (Pug) Winokur, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a director of DynCorp since 1988, according to a May 9, 2001 Proxy Statement.
By the way, the Council on Foreign Relations, which has been liberally described as a think tank, is actually "a clearinghouse for the really choice frauds," according to whistleblower Al Martin, author of The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider.
In fact, Winokur was the also Chairman of the Board of DynCorp from 1988 to 1997.
So here is the connection between criminal corporate and government networks.
Winokur is also on the Board of Directors of the notorious Enron -- the notorious slush fund/ money laundry disguised as a corporation. It should be noted that Enron has declared bankruptcy after paying corporate insiders hundreds of millions of dollars for their "services."
As the chair of Enron's Finance Committee, Winokur approved the creation of more than 3000 offshore limited partnerships and subsidiaries, used by the corporation to hide losses from derivative trading, other bogus transactions and money laundering.
Winokur is also a director of Harvard Management Company and a member of Harvard Corporation.
Harvard, of course, has all the trademarks of a highly successful money laundry, but is cleverly disguised as a prestigious "educational institution." Its endowment fund rose remarkably from $5 billion to $19 billion in just 6 years.
(Imagine if you could get that kind of return.)
Winokur also has the ability and the means to coordinate money flows in and out of offshore slush funds with little or no public supervision -- as Chairman and CEO of Capricorn Holdings, Inc., a "private investment company" and Managing General Partner of three Capricorn Investors Limited Partnerships "concentrating on investments in restructure situations." That's code for "bottom feeding" on so-called "distressed" properties.
As far as DynCorp is concerned, though, there's Winokur's pal, Dudley Mecum, DynCorp Director since 1988, who just happens to also be the managing director of Winokur's Capricorn Holdings Inc., as well as CitiGroup, the New York banking conglomerate, convicted of serial money laundering and other criminal offenses.
The DynCorp Board itself is filled with so many shadowy characters that the company could be rightly considered a retirement/ slush fund for former spooks and military honchos.
They include General P.C. Carns, a retired General US Air Force who served as Vice Chief of Staff and as Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According the DynCorp Proxy statement, Carns is also a member of the Defense Science Board and the Board of Advisors, National Security Agency.
Then there's General Russell E. Dougherty, Director since 1989, whose term as director expired in 2001. He was an attorney with the law firm of McGuire, Woods, as well as a retired General US Air Force, who served as Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command and Chief of Staff, Allied Command, Europe.
Who needs a pension when you have the coffers of the government open to you?
Can you say military industrial complex ?
Who benefits ?
According to Catherine Austin Fitts, former FHA Commissioner in the Bush I Administration and former CEO of Hamilton Securities, an investment banking/ software company, the creation of Stock Value, also referred to as Capital Gains, is called "Pop" in Wall Street jargon. She explains the money dynamics of DynCorp's business model with regard to its War on Drugs activities.
"If DynCorp has a $60 million per year contract supporting knowledge management for asset seizures in the United States," she says. "The current proxy shows that they value their stock, which they buy and sell internally, at approximately 30 times earnings."
"So, if a contract has a 5-10% profit, then per $100 million of contracts, DynCorp makes about $5-$10 million, which translates into $150 million to $300 million of stock value."
"That means that for a $200 million contract, with average earnings of 5-10% ($10 million to $20 million), DynCorp is generating $300 million to $600 million of stock value. Pug Winokur of Capricorn Holdings appears to have about 5% ownership, which means that his partnerships' stock value increase $15-$30 million from the War in Colombia."
Interesting, isn't it ?
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/21/2007 9:00:46 PM
Oh I can trump that if you want dirt!! :)
Check this out!
Congresswoman Grills Rumsfeld on DynCorp Sex Slaves
How about some text:
Insight on the News - National
By Kelly Patricia O Meara
Middle-aged men having sex with 12- to 15-year-olds was too much for Ben Johnston, a hulking 6-foot-5-inch Texan, and more than a year ago he blew the whistle on his employer, DynCorp, a U.S. contracting company doing business in Bosnia.
According to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of the former DynCorp aircraft mechanic, "in the latter part of 1999 Johnston learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts. Johnston witnessed coworkers and supervisors literally buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they had purchased."
Rather than acknowledge and reward Johnston's effort to get this behavior stopped, DynCorp fired him, forcing him into protective custody by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) until the investigators could get him safely out of Kosovo and returned to the United States. That departure from the war-torn country was a far cry from what Johnston imagined a year earlier when he arrived in Bosnia to begin a three-year U.S. Air Force contract with DynCorp as an aircraft-maintenance technician for Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
For more than 50 years DynCorp, based in Reston, Va., has been a worldwide force providing maintenance support to the U.S. military through contract field teams (CFTs). As one of the federal government's top 25 contractors, DynCorp has received nearly $1 billion since 1995 for these services and has deployed 181 personnel to Bosnia during the last six years. Although DynCorp long has been respected for such work, according to Johnston and internal DynCorp communications it appears that extracurricular sexcapades on the part of its employees were tolerated by some as part of its business in Bosnia.
But DynCorp was nervous. For instance, an internal e-mail from DynCorp employee Darrin Mills, who apparently was sent to Bosnia to look into reported problems, said, "I met with Col. Braun [a base supervisor] yesterday. He is very concerned about the CID investigation; however, he views it mostly as a DynCorp problem. What he wanted to talk about most was how I am going to fix the maintenance problems here and how the investigation is going to impact our ability to fix his airplanes." The Mills e-mail continued: "The first thing he told me is that 'they are tired of having smoke blown up their ass.' They don't want anymore empty promises."
An e-mail from Dyncorp's Bosnia site supervisor, John Hirtz (later fired for alleged sexual indiscretions), explains DynCorp's position in Bosnia. "The bottom line is that DynCorp has taken what used to be a real positive program that has very high visibility with every Army unit in the world and turned it into a bag of worms. Poor quality was the major issue."
Johnston was on the ground and saw firsthand what the military was complaining about. "My main problem," he explains, "was [sexual misbehavior] with the kids, but I wasn't too happy with them ripping off the government, either. DynCorp is just as immoral and elite as possible, and any rule they can break they do. There was this one guy who would hide parts so we would have to wait for parts and, when the military would question why it was taking so long, he'd pull out the part and say 'Hey, you need to install this.' They'd have us replace windows in helicopters that weren't bad just to get paid. They had one kid, James Harlin, over there who was right out of high school and he didn't even know the names and purposes of the basic tools. Soldiers that are paid $18,000 a year know more than this kid, but this is the way they [DynCorp] grease their pockets. What they say in Bosnia is that DynCorp just needs a warm body — that's the DynCorp slogan. Even if you don't do an eight-hour day, they'll sign you in for it because that's how they bill the government. It's a total fraud."
Remember, Johnston was fired by this company. He laughs bitterly recalling the work habits of a DynCorp employee in Bosnia who "weighed 400 pounds and would stick cheeseburgers in his pockets and eat them while he worked. The problem was he would literally fall asleep every five minutes. One time he fell asleep with a torch in his hand and burned a hole through the plastic on an aircraft." This same man, according to Johnston, "owned a girl who couldn't have been more than 14 years old. It's a sick sight anyway to see any grown man [having sex] with a child, but to see some 45-year-old man who weighs 400 pounds with a little girl, it just makes you sick." It is precisely these allegations that Johnston believes got him fired.
Johnston reports that he had been in Bosnia only a few days when he became aware of misbehavior in which many of his DynCorp colleagues were involved. He tells INSIGHT, "I noticed there were problems as soon as I got there, and I tried to be covert because I knew it was a rougher crowd than I'd ever dealt with. It's not like I don't drink or anything, but DynCorp employees would come to work drunk. A DynCorp van would pick us up every morning and you could smell the alcohol on them. There were big-time drinking issues. I always told these guys what I thought of what they were doing, and I guess they just thought I was a self-righteous fool or something, but I didn't care what they thought."
The mix of drunkenness and working on multimillion-dollar aircraft upon which the lives of U.S. military personnel depended was a serious enough issue, but Johnston drew the line when it came to buying young girls and women as sex slaves. "I heard talk about the prostitution right away, but it took some time before I understood that they were buying these girls. I'd tell them that it was wrong and that it was no different than slavery — that you can't buy women. But they'd buy the women's passports and they [then] owned them and would sell them to each other."
"At first," explains Johnston, "I just told the guys it was wrong. Then I went to my supervisors, including John Hirtz, although at the time I didn't realize how deep into it he was. Later I learned that he had videotaped himself having sex with two girls and CID has that video as evidence. Hirtz is the guy who would take new employees to the brothels and set them up so he got his women free. The Serbian mafia would give Hirtz the women free and, when one of the guys was leaving the country, Hirtz would go to the mafia and make sure that the guys didn't owe them any money."
"None of the girls," continues Johnston, "were from Bosnia. They were from Russia, Romania and other places, and they were imported in by DynCorp and the Serbian mafia. These guys would say 'I gotta go to Serbia this weekend to pick up three girls.' They talk about it and brag about how much they pay for them — usually between $600 and $800. In fact, there was this one guy who had to be 60 years old who had a girl who couldn't have been 14. DynCorp leadership was 100 percent in bed with the mafia over there. I didn't get any results from talking to DynCorp officials, so I went to Army CID and I drove around with them, pointing out everyone's houses who owned women and weapons."
That's when Johnston's life took a dramatic turn.
On June 2, 2000, members of the 48th Military Police Detachment conducted a sting on the DynCorp hangar at Comanche Base Camp, one of two U.S. bases in Bosnia, and all DynCorp personnel were detained for questioning. CID spent several weeks working the investigation and the results appear to support Johnston's allegations. For example, according to DynCorp employee Kevin Werner's sworn statement to CID, "during my last six months I have come to know a man we call 'Debeli,' which is Bosnian for fat boy. He is the operator of a nightclub by the name of Harley's that offers prostitution. Women are sold hourly, nightly or permanently."
Werner admitted to having purchased a woman to get her out of prostitution and named other DynCorp employees who also had paid to own women. He further admitted to having purchased weapons (against the law in Bosnia) and it was Werner who turned over to CID the videotape made by Hirtz. Werner apparently intended to use the video as leverage in the event that Hirtz decided to fire him. Werner tells CID, "I told him [Hirtz] I had a copy and that all I wanted was to be treated fairly. If I was going to be fired or laid off, I wanted it to be because of my work performance and not because he was not happy with me."
According to Hirtz's own sworn statement to CID, there appears to be little doubt that he did indeed rape one of the girls with whom he is shown having sexual intercourse in his homemade video.
CID: Did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman on the tape?
CID: Did you have intercourse with the second woman after she said "no" to you?
Hirtz: I don't recall her saying that. I don't think it was her saying "no."
CID: Who do you think said "no"?
Hirtz: I don't know.
CID: According to what you witnessed on the videotape played for you in which you were having sexual intercourse with the second woman, did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman after she said "no" to you?
CID: Did you know you were being videotaped?
Hirtz: Yes. I set it up.
CID: Did you know it is wrong to force yourself upon someone without their consent?
The CID agents did not ask any of the men involved what the ages of the "women" were who had been purchased or used for prostitution. According to CID, which sought guidance from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in Bosnia, "under the Dayton Peace Accord, the contractors were protected from Bosnian law which did not apply to them. They knew of no [U.S.] federal laws that would apply to these individuals at this time."
However, CID took another look and, according to the investigation report, under Paragraph 5 of the NATO Agreement Between the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia regarding the status of NATO and its personnel, contractors "were not immune from local prosecution if the acts were committed outside the scope of their official duties."
Incredibly, the CID case was closed in June 2000 and turned over to the Bosnian authorities. DynCorp says it conducted its own investigation, and Hirtz and Werner were fired by DynCorp and returned to the United States but were not prosecuted. Experts in slave trafficking aren't buying the CID's interpretation of the law.
Widney Brown, an advocate for Human Rights Watch, tells INSIGHT "our government has an obligation to tell these companies that this behavior is wrong and they will be held accountable. They should be sending a clear message that it won't be tolerated. One would hope that these people wouldn't need to be told that they can't buy women, but you have to start off by laying the ground rules. Rape is a crime in any jurisdiction and there should not be impunity for anyone. Firing someone is not sufficient punishment. This is a very distressing story — especially when you think that these people and organizations are going into these countries to try and make it better, to restore a rule of law and some civility."
Christine Dolan, founder of the International Humanitarian Campaign Against the Exploitation of Children, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, tells Insight: "What is surprising to me is that Dyncorp has kept this contract. The U.S. says it wants to eradicate trafficking of people, has established an office in the State Department for this purpose, and yet neither State nor the government-contracting authorities have stepped in and done an investigation of this matter."
Dolan says, "It's not just Americans who are participating in these illegal acts. But what makes this more egregious for the U.S. is that our purpose in those regions is to restore some sense of civility. Now you've got employees of U.S. contractors in bed with the local mafia and buying kids for sex! That these guys have some kind of immunity from prosecution is morally outrageous. How can men be allowed to get away with rape simply because of location? Rape is a crime no matter where it occurs and it's important to remember that even prostitution is against the law in Bosnia. The message we're sending to kids is that it's okay for America's representatives to rape children. We talk about the future of the children, helping to build economies, democracy, the rule of law, and at the same time we fail to prosecute cases like this. That is immoral and hypocritical, and if DynCorp is involved in this in any way it should forfeit its contract and pay restitution in the form of training about trafficking."
Charlene Wheeless, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, vehemently denies any culpability on the part of the company, According to Wheeless, "The notion that a company such as DynCorp would turn a blind eye to illegal behavior by our employees is incomprehensible. DynCorp adheres to a core set of values that has served as the backbone of our corporation for the last 55 years, helping us become one of the largest and most respected professional-services and outsourcing companies in the world. We can't stress strongly enough that, as an employee-owned corporation, we take ethics very seriously. DynCorp stands by its decision to terminate [whistle-blower] Ben Johnston, who was terminated for cause."
What was the "cause" for which Johnston was fired? He received his only reprimand from DynCorp one day prior to the sting on the DynCorp hangar when Johnston was working with CID. A week later he received a letter of discharge for bringing "discredit to the company and the U.S. Army while working in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina." The discharge notice did not say how Johnston "brought discredit to the company."
It soon developed conveniently, according to Johnston's attorneys, that he was implicated by a DynCorp employee for illegal activity in Bosnia. Harlin, the young high-school graduate Johnston complained had no experience in aircraft maintenance and didn't even know the purposes of the basic tools, provided a sworn statement to CID about Johnston. Asked if anyone ever had offered to sell him a weapon, Harlin fingered Johnston and DynCorp employee Tom Oliver, who also had disapproved of the behavior of DynCorp employees.
Harlin even alleged that Johnston was "hanging out with Kevin Werner." Although Werner had no problem revealing the names and illegal activities of other DynCorp employees, Werner did not mention Johnston's name in his sworn statement.
Kevin Glasheen, Johnston's attorney, says flatly of this: "It's DynCorp's effort to undermine Ben's credibility. But I think once the jury hears this case, that accusation is only going to make them more angry at DynCorp. In order to make our claim, we have to show that DynCorp was retaliating against Ben, and that fits under racketeering. There is a lot of evidence that shows this was what they were doing and that it went all the way up the management chain."
According to Glasheen, "DynCorp says that whatever these guys were doing isn't corporate activity and they're not responsible for it. But this problem permeated their business and management and they made business decisions to further the scheme and to cover it up. We have to show that there was a causal connection between Ben's whistle-blowing about the sex trade and his being fired. We can do that. We're here to prove a retaliation case, not convict DynCorp of participating in the sex-slave trade.
"What you have here is a Lord of the Flies mentality. Basically you've got a bunch of strong men who are raping and manipulating young girls who have been kidnapped from their homes. Who's the bad guy? Is it the guy who buys the girl to give her freedom, the one who kidnaps her and sells her or the one who liberates her and ends up having sex with her? And what does it mean when the U.S. steps up and says, 'We don't have any jurisdiction'? That's absurd."
The outraged attorney pauses for breath. "This is more than one twisted mind. There was a real corporate culture with a deep commitment to a cover-up. And it's outrageous that DynCorp still is being paid by the government on this contract. The worst thing I've seen is a DynCorp e-mail after this first came up where they're saying how they have turned this thing into a marketing success, that they have convinced the government that they could handle something like this."
Johnston is not the only DynCorp employee to blow the whistle and sue the billion-dollar government contractor. Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. International Police Force monitor hired by the U.S. company on another U.N.-related contract, has filed a lawsuit in Great Britain against DynCorp for wrongful termination. DynCorp had a $15 million contract to hire and train police officers for duty in Bosnia at the time she reported such officers were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex-trafficking. Many of these were forced to resign under suspicion of illegal activity, but none have been prosecuted, as they also enjoy immunity from prosecution in Bosnia.
DynCorp has admitted it fired five employees for similar illegal activities prior to Johnston's charges.
But Johnston worries about what this company's culture does to the reputation of the United States. "The Bosnians think we're all trash. It's a shame. When I was there as a soldier they loved us, but DynCorp employees have changed how they think about us. I tried to tell them that this is not how all Americans act, but it's hard to convince them when you see what they're seeing. The fact is, DynCorp is the worst diplomat you could possibly have over there."
Johnston's attorney looks to the outcome. "How this all ends," says Glasheen, "will say a lot about what we stand for and what we won't stand for."
Kelly Patricia O'Meara is an investigative reporter for Insight.
Of course the military industrial complex. This country is under attack from many sources at the same time and that complex is huge and extends way beyond just the corporations!
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/22/2007 3:18:30 PM
|As I was stating the problem throughout history nations/kingdoms ran into with mercenaries was that the only loyalty they really have is $$$$$$$. It is in their best interest to make sure peace never happens and they often did/do whatever it took to keep their $$$ coming in even if that meant helping the enemy or CREATING one outright. No better business plan than to make an enemy and go to a nation and tell them how much you will charge to get rid of them. I am sure the weapons smuggling is just this. Keeping the status Quo in Iraq. Longer they keep the war going longer they all make profits.|
They should get rid of this program and get rid of the CIA as well. All the shadow ops stuff training and making new enemies in other nations needs to stop. If you look at all of our "enemies" today they were all trained by/ worked with/ or were put in place after a failed coup done by the USA. If it was one enemy that was like this I might be able to dismiss this as random but, when every single one of them was this. It should send up a red flag and make the citizens of the nation realize that this must come to an end.
There needs to be a paradigm shift. We need to get control back of the rogue elements of our government. They need to remember whom they are supposed to be serving and not let it be told to us that it is supposed to be the other way around.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/23/2007 1:54:28 AM
Why Blackwater — and More — Should Leave Iraq
...Kicking Blackwater out of Iraq, as Prime Minister Maliki suggested, buys the Administration nothing...
...For Iraqis this is all infuriatingly irrelevant. They look at Blackwater as trigger-happy mercenaries, and Iraqis don't want any armed foreign security contractors in their country. Do we let Iraqi embassy private security contractors race around Washington or New York, machine guns sticking out the window, to prevent carjackings?
Granted, Washington and New York aren't Baghdad. Still, the fact is security contractors are a daily reminder for Iraqis that their country is occupied, and they are second-class citizens. The insult is not just that security contractors are allowed to use lethal force and not worry about going to jail; a Western security contractor will make in a week what an Iraqi might make in a year. Private security contractors are a humiliation equal to the humiliations that provoked the Boxer Rebellion in China or drove Iranians to overthrow the Shah. Security contractors may be keeping our officials alive, but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis.
What the Administration should do is rescind Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, the decree that puts foreign security contractors beyond the reach of Iraqi law. This would effectively close down private security companies. There is no reason the State Department cannot provide its own security; State security officers are under diplomatic immunity. If there's a questionable shooting, the Iraqi government at least will have the satisfaction of declaring the shooter persona non grata under the Vienna Convention.
With violence down, and the surge apparently having an effect, now is the time to make a gesture to Iraqis. We can show we are serious about returning their sovereignty to them by pulling out private security contractors, even if it means using U.S. troops to fill the void.
Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down
Bush and Maliki to Talk Blackwater
...Maliki offered his own solution on Wednesday, recommending that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad change the company it uses to provide security. "This crime has generated a lot of hatred in the government and the people against Blackwater," Maliki told reporters. "For their own interests, the Americans should hire a new company to protect their people so they can move freely."
Funny how Blackwater cloaks and wraps itself around the fact they presently can't be tried under law since they are unlike the military in nature. Yet when it comes to the case of their own dead, they defend their own lawsuits using exactly the opposite reasoning.
Victims of an Outsourced War
...the case of the Fallujah Four, as some now refer to them, has stirred a nest of questions about accountability, oversight and regulations governing for-profit gunslingers in war zones.
...Erik Prince, 37, Blackwater's ambitious founder and sole owner... political connections may well have helped his company win these crucial contracts from the Bush Administration. He was a White House intern under George W. Bush's father. His family have long been G.O.P donors; his sister Betsy Prince DeVos chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005. And Blackwater has hired U.S. national-security vets onto its executive staff. Among them: Cofer Black, the onetime head of counterterrorism at the cia, and Joseph Schmitz, a former Pentagon inspector general whose duties included investigating contractual agreements with firms like Blackwater.
The Pentagon didn't plan for the contractors going so heavily into the war theater, says Lawrence Korb, Department of Defense manpower chief under President Ronald Reagan....This thing grew far beyond where anybody thought it would."
...The highest-paid independent contractors are known as tier-1 personnel. These are the former U.S. special-forces soldiers. On Helvenston's tour in Iraq, he was making about $600 a day. He was on a 60-day rotation and stood to make some $36,000 in two months
What Went Wrong in Fallujah
When Helvenston was killed, Blackwater was expanding its business in Iraq from being just bodyguards. The company wanted to make a bid to take over security for convoys delivering kitchen supplies to U.S. military bases in Iraq.
...Blackwater's defense revolves around the issue of who has legal responsibility when something goes wrong. Blackwater's lawyers say the four men were operating as part of the U.S. "total force" in Iraq. As such, they claim, the company could no more be sued than the U.S. Army could for something that happened in a war zone. And they argue that any compensation for the families (28 Blackwater men have died in Iraq) would have to come from the U.S. government, not from Blackwater.
In a pretrial hearing, the North Carolina judge scolded Blackwater for saying that it speaks as part of the total military force. "Blackwater has wrapped itself in the American flag," Judge Donald Stephens told the firm's lawyers. "Blackwater Security Consulting LLC is not the United States government."
...there was a disjuncture between what they were told in training and the realities they found on the ground. Most of the training they did at Moyock "revolved around armored vehicles and operating armored vehicles," he testified. The vehicles that the Blackwater team was driving on March 31 were not armored; they had only a piece of metal behind the backseat. During training, team members were told that they would be sent to Iraq with semiautomatic M4 machine guns and Glock handguns and that larger weapons, like a belt-fed 5.56 machine gun squad automatic weapon, would be issued upon arrival. They were also told they would be doing advance work in Iraq, gathering intelligence, inspecting routes and doing prep work before starting a new contract.
But when they arrived in Iraq, there were no heavy weapons or hard cars. Just as important, their project manager, a heavyset American they called Shrek, prevented them from doing the promised preparations, Berman says. Blackwater's team was in a hurry to take over the contract to escort kitchen supplies to a U.S. military base near Fallujah from a British security company. The British company offered to have the Blackwater guys ride along with them to get to know the general routes and threats, but Shrek said his team was "way too busy," according to Berman. Blackwater also didn't provide the men with any maps, Berman said, and the few they did obtain came after "begging around" on nearby U.S. military bases. They did have global-positioning systems, said Berman, but lacked the coordinates of their destinations.
The day Helvenston died, there were only four men on his team, two per vehicle, instead of Blackwater's standard three per vehicle for security convoys. Berman testified that the presence of only two operators in Helvenston's vehicle contributed to his death because it "took away the entire back field of operation"--no third person in the rear vehicle who could be assigned to watch for an attack from behind...
...It was a loss not just for four families. It was a turning point in an already foundering war. An ecstatic mob in the center of a major Iraqi town had torn Americans limb from limb in front of rolling cameras. A series of catastrophic recriminations followed. Muqtada al-Sadr, emboldened by the attack, called for the first Shi'ite uprising against the occupation. U.S. Marines retook Fallujah but flattened parts of the city in the process and set the stage for future cycles of invasion and uprising that have scarred the city--and the country--ever since.
It is telling that this watershed moment involved American employees of a private security contractor
Army disavows Blackwater work
The service says it didn't approve the N.C. military contractor's 2004 mission in Fallujah, Iraq, during which four men died.
...On Thursday, the Army said that Blackwater was not authorized to guard convoys or carry weapons.
The revelation came at a congressional hearing that offered a window into the murky world of private contracting in Iraq. Representatives fumed about billions in misspent money, shoddy construction projects and the hiring of unqualified political operatives to rebuild Iraq.
One unsolved mystery at the hearing was whether Blackwater, based in Moyock in North Carolina's northeast corner, was ultimately working for U.S. taxpayers when its contractors were killed
...The hearing Thursday of the House Government Reform Committee gave a raw look at a wide range of problems with private contractors in Iraq: a $75 million police academy in Baghdad where sewage oozes from the ceiling, and a multimillion-dollar contract to build 142 health clinics that resulted in only six being completed.
Committee members have tried to get answers on the Blackwater contract for almost two years, since The News & Observer detailed how multiple layers of contracts inflated war costs.
At the lowest level, Blackwater security guards were paid $600 a day. Blackwater added a 36 percent markup, plus overhead costs, and sent the bill to a Kuwaiti company that ordinarily runs hotels, according to the contract.
That company, Regency Hotel, tacked on its costs and a profit and sent an invoice to ESS. The food company added its costs and profit and sent its bill to Kellogg Brown & Root, which also added overhead and a profit and presented the final bill to the Pentagon.
At a hearing in June, Van Hollen pressed a Blackwater executive on whether the 36 percent markup included all of Blackwater's costs. Van Hollen specifically asked whether Blackwater billed separately for insurance, room and board, travel, weapons, ammunition, vehicles and office space, as The N&O article reported.
Chris Taylor, a Blackwater vice president, testified that the 36 percent markup included all of Blackwater's costs.
Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, interrupted, reminded Taylor he was under oath and ordered Blackwater to provide the documents to back up his testimony. Blackwater has provided no documents to the committee.
At the hearing Thursday, Van Hollen held up a copy of Blackwater's contract that showed the trail of subcontractors -- Blackwater, Regency, ESS -- leading to Kellogg Brown & Root. Did the Army contend that Blackwater provided no services to Kellogg Brown & Root?
Tina Ballard, an undersecretary of the Army, said that is correct.
"Was this contract authorized?" Van Hollen asked. "Did the American taxpayer pay [Kellogg Brown & Root] for those unauthorized contracts?"
Ballard promised that the Army would provide answers.
Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security is the lawsuit for wrongful death filed by the families of the four contractors for Blackwater Security who were slain in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush. The families of the four slain contractors, led by Scott Helvenston's mother Katy Helvenston-Wettengel and Donna Zovko, Jerry Zovko's mother, filed suit against Blackwater with lawyer Daniel Callahan on January 5, 2005. Blackwater countersued for $10 million in December 2006, claiming breach of the contract provisions which forbid any suit against the company. Both suits are outstanding.
Lead counsel for the families is Daniel Callahan; lead counsel for Blackwater is Greenberg Traurig.
The Blackwater contract with Regency Hotel and Hospital Company and Eurest Support Services (ESS was a subcontractor of KBR Halliburton) called for at least three men per vehicle on security missions "with a minimum of two armored vehicles to support ESS movements." In addition the contract called for a minimum of three-man teams in two vehicles (for a total of six men), with a heavily armed rear gunner, and time before any mission to review the route and conduct a risk assessment and pre-trip inspection.
Blackwater signed a revised contract with Regency on March 12, 2004 that removed the word "armored". Potter insisted that his men be given armored vehicles, however, and was removed as project manager on March 24, replaced by Blackwater trainer Justin "Shrek" McQuown.
The suit alleges that McQuown resented Helvenston and deliberately reassigned Helvenston to the team that died. The suit further alleges that McQuown intervened and ordered only a four-man team be sent, although six were available, the other two remaining to perform clerical duties.
The suit alleges that Blackwater repeatedly made decisions that made the deaths of the contractors more likely in order to save money. These alleged decisions include not buying armored vehicles to save $1.5 million and removing the employee, John Potter, who complained about that action; and violating the contract by not sending out a six-man team with rear gunners and conducting a pre-trip risk assessment.
Did i see that right? Blackwater contracted out to a subcontractor of KBR Haliburton. All right in the middle of creating the biggest turning point in the direction of this crisis. KBR, KBR, where have i heard that name before?
Democrats hold hearing on KBR's Iraq water contamination
7 April 2006
WASHINGTON, April 7 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) held a hearing today on allegations that Halliburton and its KBR subsidiary have knowingly exposed thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to hazardous levels of unhealthy water from the Euphrates River, including human fecal matter. The allegations, made by current and former Halliburton employees involved in water quality maintenance, were first disclosed by HalliburtonWatch last September. Visit this link to read the HalliburtonWatch report.
"Everyone knows that drinking, or washing with poop is bad for you," Jeffrey K. Griffiths, MD, Professor of Public Health and Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, told the committee. "The reasons are so obvious we consider them common sense," he said.
But "common sense" is not always a virtue at Halliburton, if whistleblowers and military personnel in Iraq are to be believed.
Capt. Michelle Callahan, MD, a U.S. army surgeon in Iraq with the 101st Sustainment Brigade, told the committee in an email that water containing human fecal matter and other human waste was being re-circulated by Halliburton back into the non-potable water supply used by the troops for showering, brushing teeth, shaving, washing clothes, and preparing food and coffee. According to Callahan, "concentrate reject was being used to fill the water tanks."
After finding coliform bacteria and e-coli in the the water, Callahan said a Halliburton official informed employees that, "there's not a problem with it."
Callahan also stated that, after discovering KBR was filling the water with waste water concentrate, the same official informed employees that, "This was the way KBR always treated the water."
"I had a sudden increase in soldiers with bacterial infections presenting to me for treatment," Callahan told the committee in her email. "All of these soldiers live in the same living area (PAD 103) and use the same water to shower. I had 4 cases of skin abcesses, 1 case of cellulitis, and one case of bacterial conjunctivitis," she said.
An internal Halliburton report leaked to the committee and authored by the company's Iraq water quality manager admitted that, "No disinfection to non-potable water was occurring [at Camp Ar Ramadi] for water designated for showering purposes. This caused an unknown population to be exposed to potentially harmful water for an undetermined amount of time."
"This event should be considered a 'NEAR MISS,'" the Halliburton report warned, "as the consequences of these actions could have been VERY SEVERE resulting in mass sickness or death" (emphasis in the original). The report added, "The deficiencies of the camp where the event occurred is (sic) not exclusive to that camp; meaning that country-wide, all camps suffer to some extent from all or some of the deficiencies noted."
The report laments that, "The likelihood of a similar event is considered high if no actions to correct widespread program deficiencies are taken."
So far, Halliburton management has denied a problem even exists and declined to appear at today's congressional hearing.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-SD), the committee's chairman, said, "This report, made by an employee of the Halliburton Corporation to the Halliburton Corporation, and previously not made available [to the public], establishes there was indeed serious contamination of the non-potable water provided to our troops, not only at camp Ar Ramadi, but throughout the U.S. military camps in Iraq."
After reviewing Halliburton's internal water report, Dr. Griffiths told the committee that the source water used at Ar Ramadi was "highly polluted" and "highly likely to make [the troops] sick." He said the troops "would have been better off with water [taken] directly out of the Euphrates River," which the doctor described as an "open sewer." That's because Halliburton's non-potable water was not chlorinated or filtered to remove parasites, amoebas and viruses that cause various illnesses including dysentery, an inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract that causes fever, severe diarrhea, vomiting and often "pooping of blood." Dr. Griffiths pointed out that "in many if not most wars, dysentery has killed more soldiers than has combat."
KBR instructs the troops not to drink the non-potable water, but claims it is safe for showering. But Dr. Griffiths said showering with KBR's untreated water is still dangerous because ingestion of diseases can occur through the mouth and skin.
Anticipating that Dorgan's criticism could create a public relations problem, Halliburton attempted to deter the senator by sending a second internal report to his office the night before the hearing, which contradicted the first internal on-site report and purportedly "exonerates" (as Dorgan put it) the company. But this second report admits that, "KBR (Halliburton) lacked an organizational structure to ensure that water was being treated in accordance with Army standards in its contractual requirements."
This admission that Halliburton failed to ensure that its work met contract specifications is just the latest in a long list of violations that members of Congress say should lead to the company's suspension and debarment.
Nevertheless, both Halliburton and the Pentagon have denied that a serious problem exists.
"This is really pretty unbelievable to me," Dorgan said in response to denials by Halliburton and the Pentagon. "I understand no one wants to take responsibility. No one ever wants to be accountable for anything," he said. "We now know that those denials were wrong and Halliburton and the Pentagon would have known them to be wrong."
Thanks to Dorgan's efforts, after initially resisting calls for an investigation into the matter, the Pentagon in March announced that it will conduct a formal inquiry. But, like most of the federal investigations into Halliburton's alleged wrongdoing, the Pentagon's inquiry will likely be stalled or swept under the rug.
Political connections and controversy
Brown and Root had a well-documented relationship with U.S. President Lyndon Johnson which began when he used his position as a Texas congressman to assist them in landing a lucrative dam contract. In return they gave him the funds for his 1948 Senate race against Coke R. Stevenson. The relationship continued for years, with Johnson awarding military construction contracts to B&R.
Following the end of the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, led by then Defense Secretary D1ck Cheney, paid Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root Services over $8.5 million to study the use of private military forces with American soldiers in combat zones.
Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. He has been accused of supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq and providing work to KBR under contingency contracts to financially benefit himself and his business associates.
...Activities in Iraq
KBR employs more American private contractors and holds a larger contract with the U.S. government than does any other firm in Iraq. The company's roughly 14,000 U.S. employees in Iraq provide logistical support to the U.S. armed forces.
The United States Army hired KBR to provide housing for approximately 100,000 soldiers in Iraq in a contract worth $200 million, based on a long-term contract signed in December 2001 under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). Other LOGCAP orders have included a pre-invasion order to repair oil facilities in Iraq; $28.2 million to build POW camps; and $40.8 million to accommodate the Iraqi Survey Group, which was deployed after the invasion to find weapons of mass destruction.
The Army's actions came under fire from California Congressman Henry Waxman, who, along with Michigan Congressman John Dingell, asked the General Accounting Office to investigate whether the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Pentagon were circumventing government contracting procedures and favoring companies with ties to the Bush administration. They also accused KBR of inflating prices for importing gasoline into Iraq. In June 2003, the Army announced that it would replace KBR's oil-infrastructure contract with two public-bid contracts worth a maximum total of $1 billion, to be awarded in October. However, the Army announced in October it would expand the contract ceiling to $2 billion and the solicitation period to December. As of October 16, 2003, KBR had performed nearly $1.6 billion worth of work. In the meantime, KBR has subcontracted with two companies to work on the project: Boots & Coots, an oil field emergency response firm that Halliburton works in partnership with (CEO Jerry L. Winchester was a former Halliburton manager) and Wild Well Control. Both firms are based in Texas .
Hmmm. Is it just me, or does it seem a wee bit odd, or maybe it's just a coincidence that a lot of this stuff on these forums just keeps coming back again and again and again to this term 'military industrial complex.' This complex that seemingly has it's way with anyhting it wants and feeds itself like a bloodsucking leach off the misfortunes it creates. It creates fortune thru misfortune. That's not capitalism.
No care whatsoever to the human condition. Base pay starting at 600 bucks a day. The American taxpayer pays 99 bucks for a washin' a bag of a soldiers laundry. These private contractors carelessly put the soldiers health at risk with the way they conduct themselves. Can it get any worse? What next you ask? Well how about the fact that any american military leaving iraq with an open wound is likely bringing an infectious disease back with him or her.
Acinetobacter baumannii from Iraq is no MYSTERY!
Why do the Pentagon and the Centers for Disease Control refuse to discuss this public health threat publicly?
Leishmaniasis from Iraq and Afghanistan
Why did the Department of Defense ignore the CDC's warning before going into war?
The Iraq Infections
The Irresponsibility Did Not Begin at Walter Reed. It started all the way at the top. The US Military and the Civilian Contractors were sent into war unwarned, under manned,under equipped, and grossly mismanaged. The consequences have come home.
Now you won't have to go to Iraq to die for 'freedom'
Field Hospitals the source of XDR Acinetobacter baumannii infections in US Soldiers
The Baghdad Boil-WARNING-
THE IRAQ INFECTION
TO A HOSPITAL NEAR YOU
This bacteria is currently infecting nearly every soldier with an open wound that enters the military evacuation system.
North Texas Leish Outbreak
Numerous cases of the disease, called leishmaniasis, have been reported in troops returning from Iraq and
Afghanistan. But for the first time, cases of this dangerous infection are appearing in North Texas in patients who have not traveled to endemic areas
Welcome to the Iraq Infections
In the lead up to the Iraq War the US Government took plenty of time to propagate the lies it needed to justify the war and to award no bid contracts but the potential needs of the troops was never adequately addressed. When these inadequacies became apparent the Government put more effort into covering them up than they did into providing our troops with what they needed to fight this war or to survive this war.
Inadequately preparing for the casualties of this war has enabled the bacteria Acinetobacter Baumannii and others to become extremely to completely drug resistant and has spread these bugs throughout the military health sytem, the VA health system, and on to civilian hospitals all across our country. The UK, Australia, and the other Coalition Countries are suffering from the same. The third world wounded contractors are carrying these bacteria with them to their home countries.
The CDC warned the DoD about Leishmaniasis in December of 2002. Due to the time of year we were invading, sandfly's, and thus leishmaniasis was to be much more prevelant than in the first gulf war. Despite this troops were sent into war without proper precautions in place to prevent sandfly bites. Civilian contractors were not warned at all until many of them became infected. Many contractors are still not warned even today. Many are just now figuring out that they have it after being home for months and/or years.
What a nightmare. Sloppy sloppy sloppy.People get paid 600 bucks a day while the soldier's get to come home diseased. Is that what patriotism is all about? Patriotic to a military industrial complex. And you can bet as sure as God made green apples, that this complex is only patriotic unto itself and themselves. Craziness.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 9/23/2007 1:23:40 PM
|President Eisenhower said to beware of the military/industrial complex. This just proves his point.|
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/8/2007 1:55:00 PM
|and so the plot thickens...|
Iraq asks U.S. to sever ties with Blackwater
STEVEN HURST AND QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
October 8, 2007 at 4:34 PM EDT
BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8-million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm's guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.
The demands — part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press — also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.
The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square — which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.
Mr. Al-Maliki ordered the investigation by his defence minister and other top security and police officials on Sept. 22. The findings — which were translated from Arabic by AP — mark the most definitive Iraqi positions and contentions about the shootings last month.
The report also highlights the differences in death tolls and accounts that have complicated efforts to piece together the chain of events as one Blackwater-protected convoy raced back toward Baghdad's Green Zone after a nearby bombing, while a second back-up team in four gun trucks sped into the square as a back-up team.
The Iraqi investigation charges the four Blackwater vehicles called to the square began shooting without provocation. Blackwater contends its employees came under fire first.
The government, at the conclusion of its investigation, said 17 Iraqis died. Initial reports put the toll at 11.
It said the compensation — totalling $136-million — was so high “because Blackwater uses employees who show disrespect for the rights of Iraqi citizens even though they are guests in this country.”
The U.S. military pays compensation money to the families of civilians killed in battles or to cover property damage, but at far lower amounts.
The United States has not made conclusive findings about the shooting, though there are multiple investigations under way and Congress has opened inquiries into the role of private security contractors. Last week, the FBI took over a State Department investigation, raising the prospect that it could be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.
The Iraqi government report said its courts were to proper venue in which to bring charges.
It said Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq expired on June 2, 2006, meaning it had no immunity from prosecution under Iraqi laws set down after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The government report also challenged the claim that a decree in June 2004 by then-Iraqi administrator L. Paul Bremer granted Blackwater immunity from legal action in incidents such as the one in Nisoor Square. The report said the Blackwater guards could be charged under a criminal code from 1969.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said the diplomatic mission would have no comment on the report. Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said the document was in American hands.
The report found that Blackwater guards also had killed 21 Iraqi civilians and wounded 27 in previous shootings since it took over security for U.S. diplomats in Baghdad after the U.S. invasion. The Iraqi government did not say whether it would try to prosecute in those cases.
The State Department has counted 56 shooting incidents involving Blackwater guards in Iraq this year. All were being reviewed as part of the comprehensive inquiry ordered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/8/2007 8:35:30 PM
|^^^Have you bothered to read the entire thread, or just the last few posts? If you've read the thread then you'd know already that a number of challenges exist with this Blackwater outfit. The latest post reflects that not only is Iraq fed up with these Blackwater guys, so to are your own federal investigators. As in, the plot thickens.|
The Treasury departments of your own nation, as well as current FBI investigations, just to mention a couple. No one seems to be able to give the American people that are paying these people's wages any degree of accountability into their billing practices, their rules of engagement, or the real number of casualties they inflict. Not to mention the lousy, negligent, almost criminally negligent, job some of these paramilitary outfits do servicing the real heroes, the American troops. Read the whole thread and become a bit more enlightened for yourself.
I'm not so against the idea of a paramilitary really. It cetainly is keeping America free right now from a draft. I actually see some advantages to having something like Blackwater, but these guys are totally dropping the ball over there. And if it's a case of me or them when it comes to being blown up by cars approaching, I'm in agreement that better them than me. if i were in their shoes I'd probably be reacting in much the same fashion.
Problem is, even the American government doesn't know what to do with these guys. They've become the new elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, partly because hardly anyone knows of their true activities. Have you bothered to read some of the other threads that openly show you how many of these contractors walked off with billions of American's dollars to go retire in the caribbean? Google the Coalition Provisional Authority and Vanity Fair. That should offer some more enlightenment. If they were just running herd on the enemy it may be somewhat tolerable. but the fact is they're nondiscriminatory in who they screw over.
And; They're going to become a real bone of contention now if the feds ever want to sell the rest of the world on their story that they're trying to bring democracy to Iraq.
As for the silly comment about Bush and the twin towers I mean come on. We all know he was trying to read a children's story about goats to kids he was learning with one day in school down in Florida. It had to be him. I seen it on tv.
Hope that helps. Good luck.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/14/2007 7:51:24 AM
You really don't have much of a clue do you?
...""...who just happen to get paid more."""
Yes. Quite a bit more:
Costs to Taxpayers.
Using Blackwater instead of U.S. troops to protect embassy officials is expensive. Blackwater charges the government$.I,222 per day for the services of a private military contractor. This is equivalent to $445,000 per year, over six times more than the cost of an equivalent U.S. soldier. In total, Blackwater has received over $1 billion in federal contracts from 2001 through 2006, including more than $832 million under two contracts with the State Department to provide protective services in Iraq.
One fundamental question that the recent controversy over Blackwater has raised is whether the government's heavy reliance on private military contractors is a wise use of taxpayer funds. According to contract documents obtained by the Committee, Blackwater bills the United States government ãt $l,222per day for one individual Protective Security Specialist. On an annual basis, this amounts to $445,891 per contractor.
These costs are significantly higher than the costs that would be incurred by the military.
The security services provided by Blackwater would typically be performed by an Army Sergeant, whose salary, housing, and subsistence pay range from approximately $140 to $190 per day, depending on rank and years of service. On an annual basis, the salary, housing, and subsistence pay of an Army Sergeant ranges from $51,100 to $69,350 per year." The amount the govemment pays Blackwater for these same services is approximately six to nine times greater.
Defenders of private security contractors have argued that using private security
contractors saves the govemment money because it avoids the need to train, equip, and support troops.
However, the reverse may actually be occurring as the growing role of private military contractors causes trained troops to leave the military for private employment. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates recently testified: "[M]y personal concem about some of these security contracts is that I worry that sometimes the salaries that they are able to pay in fact lure some of our soldiers out of the service to go to work for them."
The situation has deteriorated to the point that Secretary Gates testified that he has asked Pentagon officials to work towards including 'non-compete clauses" in military contracts in order to "put some limits on the ability of these contractors io lure highly trained soldiers out of our forces and to work for them'"
Another concern for taxpayers is overcharging and double-billing by private security
contractors. A January 2005 audit of a Blackwater security contract by the State DepartmentInspector General found that Blackwater was charging the government separately for "drivers"and 'or security specialists," who were in fact the same individuals. The audit also revealed thatBlackwater was improperly charging profit as part of its overhead costs, which results "not only in a duplication of profit, þut also a pyramiding of profit because, in effect, Blackwater is applying profit to profit."
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/21/2007 12:20:55 AM
|Bill Moyers did a great piece about Blackwater, and you can watch it here : |
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, well, General Petraeus himself has been guarded by private contractors in Iraq. I mean, what message did that send when the general who's overseeing the surge in Iraq is guarded at times not by the US military, but by private forces.
BILL MOYERS:: What message does that send?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I think it sends a message that the United States military is essentially a subservient player to a corporate army in Iraq.
BILL MOYERS:: I don't read that. I read it that Blackwater is the corollary to the-- complement to the essential lode star for the military.
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, Erik Prince likes to describe Blackwater as the sort of Federal Express of the national security apparatus. He says if you want a package to get somewhere, do you send it through the post office or do you send it through FedEx? But the fact is, the US military is the junior partner in the coalition that's occupying Iraq to these private companies. There are over 170 mercenary companies like Blackwater operating in Iraq right now. That's almost as many nations as are registered at the UN. And I think this isn't just about Iraq. It's also looting the US treasury.
BILL MOYERS::What does it say that this industry has become so essential, this peace and stability industry-- these mercenaries as you call them. .
JEREMY SCAHILL:Right. Well, I think we're in the midst of the most radical privatization agenda in our nation's history. We of course see it in schools. We see it in the health care system, in prisons. And now, we're seeing it full blown in the war machine. What I ultimately see as the real threat here is that the system of the very existence of the nation state I think is at stake here. Because you have companies now that have been funded with billions of dollars in public money using that money to then build up the infrastructure of private armies some of which could take out a small national military. And the old model used to be if a company wants to go into Nigeria for instance and exploit oil, they have to work with the juntas forces in order to do that. Now, you can just bring in your own private military force
BILL MOYERS::Is it conceivable to you that these private contractors could be-- could wind up fighting the war against drugs in Columbia? Fighting the terrorists--
JEREMY SCAHILL: They already are.
BILL MOYERS:: They are?
JEREMY SCAHILL:There's the-- Dyncorps for years, which is a massively publicly traded mercenary outfit, has been in Columbia for years. They've been in the Balkans. They're all over the place.
BILL MOYERS:: Under contract to...?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Under contract with the US government. The Columbian government receives 630 million dollars a year to fight the so-called war on drugs. Of that 630 million dollars, half of it goes to US war contractors. They're in Bolivia. They're in Ecuador. They're in Columbia. Blackwater recently won a fifteen billion dollar contract that it's gonna share with four other companies to fight terrorists with drug ties.
BILL MOYERS:: Look, these-- the journalists we saw, all good journalists, some of them my friends. I admire them. But I was struck that no one confronted Prince about the specifics of his private army. How do you explain that?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I'm-- I'm not sure why they didn't do it. I feel like some of these interviews that have been done with him would make the barons of the Soviet media empire blush with embarrassment for how this was handled. I mean, this is a man who is building up nothing short of a parallel national security apparatus. He not only has his Blackwater Security which is what's deployed in Iraq. He has a maritime division, an aviation division. He recently started his own privatized intelligence company called Total Intelligence Solutions that-- that's headed by a thirty year veteran of the CIA, the man who led the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Colfer Black, who oversaw the extraordinary rendition program. This is the man who promised President Bush that he was gonna have his operative in Afghanistan chop off Osama Bin Laden's head, place it in a box with dry ice and then have it hand delivered to President Bush. He's now the number two man at Blackwater USA. He's the vice chairman of the company. And he's heading up this private intelligence company called Total Intelligence Solutions. Blackwater has just won a 92 million dollar contract from the Pentagon to operate flights throughout central Asia. This is a company that is manufacturing surveillance blimps and marketing them to the Department of Homeland Security. Their own armored vehicle called the Grizzly. I mean, Blackwater's gonna be around for a very long time.
BILL MOYERS::And yet, Prince told Charlie, in effect, you know, we're just a very robust temp-agency. Sort of like Kelly girls. JEREMY SCAHILL I really don't know what to say to that. I mean what, are they just answering phones somewhere? These are guys that have worked inside of Afghanistan. They've been responsible for so much death and destruction in Iraq. And it's sort of-- it's the sanitizing of the role of Blackwater.
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, Erik Prince likes to portray Blackwater as this sort of apple pie operation, all-American operation. And yet, his company has recruited soldiers from all around the world and deployed them in Iraq. Chilean commandos some of whom trained and served under Augusto Pinochet.
BILL MOYERS:: The dictator.
JEREMY SCAHILL:The dictator of Chile, were hired up by Blackwater. They worked with a recruiter who had been-- a Chilean recruiter who had been in Pinochet's military. And they hired up scores of Chileans, brought them to North Carolina for evaluation and then sent them over to Iraq. Chile was opposed to the occupation of Iraq. Was a rotating member of the security council at the time of the invasion opposing it. It said no. We won't join the coalition of the willing. And so, Blackwater goes in and hires up soldiers from a country who's home government is opposed to the war. And deploys them in Iraq. That's a subversion of the sovereignty of the nation of Chile. Blackwater has hired Colombian soldiers and paid them 34 dollars a day to be in Iraq as well. They've hired Bulgarians, Fijians, Poles. So, I'm not quite certain what-- what Erik Prince is talking about. In fact, his very definition of mercenary describes Blackwater, which is a professional soldier serving a foreign power. That's the definition Prince provides.
BILL MOYERS:: But he objects to that term, mercenary, doesn't he? JEREMY SCAHILL He says its slanderous.
BILL MOYERS:: I was intrigued to learn that the PR-agency that is handling Prince, Busrton Marsteller, is also the guy who heads - the CEO is also Hillary Clinton's top strategist, Mark Penn.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Mark Penn.
BILL MOYERS::Mark Penn. Sort of-- he's been called Hillary's Rove. What-- I know something about how this system works. How a PR company comes to you and says hey I've got this client that would like to be on air here. Here's how we'd like to do it. And then, you see the same thing in being repeated from show to show to show-- like Hillary Clinton was on all five of the Sunday morning talk shows recently. What-- what have you learned about how the system works between the political and media elites?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, PR-companies are also mercenaries and I know oftentimes work for the highest bidder. I think it's interesting that--
BILL MOYERS:: They're not shooting people though.
JEREMY SCAHILL:No, no, no. But they're mercenaries in the sense that they'll-- they'll rent their services out to anyone. And once you're defending Erik Prince, you're working for him, then you become part of his sort of mercenary operation. I also think that it was a strategic choice to go with the company with Mark Penn because-- because of his connection with the democrats and Hillary Clinton. But let's, lets remember here we're talking about Blackwater right now because we have a Republican administration. For so many years, we had a Republican dominated Congress. Blackwater is certainly the beneficiary of the-- the Republican monopoly in government. But this system has been bi-partisan for a very long time. When Hillary Clinton's husband was in the White House, he was an aggressive supporter of the privatization of the war machine. Bill Clinton used mercenary forces in the Balkans. Who do we think gave****Cheney's company all of those contracts during the Nineties? We talk about Halliburton. It was Clinton. It was the Clinton administration. And and, Blackwater may be a-- an extraordinary Republican company. But they're gonna be around when there's a Democrat in office.
BILL MOYERS::None of these-- none of my colleagues seem to want to press Prince on his, deeply on his political connections. What can you tell us about those connections? JEREMY SCAHILL Well, there are two things at play here. There's the funding of congressional candidates. And Erik Prince has given over a quarter of a million dollars to Republican candidates. He's also given money to the green party to defeat Democratic candidates in the 2006 election cycle. So, he's a pretty committed supporter of the Republican party. But what I think is more interesting is Erik Prince's connection to radical religious right organizations. I mean, he comes from a family where his father built up a very successful manufacturing empire called Prince Manufacturing. And the invention that they were best known for is the now ubiquitous lighted sun visors. You pull down the visor in your car and it lights up. You have a bit of Blackwater history riding around in your vehicle. And so, Prince grows up in this household where he watches his father using that business as a cash generating engine to fuel and fund the rise not only of the Republican revolution of 1994, but also of several of the core groups that make up the radical religious right. His dad gave the seed money to Gary Bauer to start the family research council. They were very close to James Dobson and his Focus on the Family Prayer Warrior Network. Erik Prince was in the first team of interns that Gary Bauer took on in Washington at the Family Research Council. And Erik Prince's sister Betsy married****Devos, heir to the Amway Corporation fortune, the owners of the Orlando Magic basketball team. And together, these two families merged in a kind of marriage that was commonplace in the monarchies of old Europe. And together, they formed this formidable behind the scenes power player in radical right wing politics in this country. And Erik Prince as a young man goes down, he interns in George H. W. Bush's White House but complains it's not conservative enough for him. And so, he backs Pat Buchanan in his insurgency campaign in 1992. So, these are sort of the people that peppered the landscape of young Erik Prince's life. He also interned for Dana Rauerbacher, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.
BILL MOYERS:: Now a congressman from California.
JEREMY SCAHILL:And now a congressman from California. In fact, what's interesting is Rauerbacher issued a defense of Erik Prince after his congressional testimony and said that Erik Prince is gonna go down in history as a hero, just like Oliver North.
BILL MOYERS: You say in your book, what is particularly scary, you acknowledge that the Democrats play this game, too, Clinton and so forth. But you write, "What is particularly scary about Blackwater's role in a war that President Bush labeled a crusade is that the company's leading executives are dedicated to a Christian supremacist agenda." Now, you go on and off with the evidence for that in the book. But when I read that, I thought, is that just a coincidence? I mean, Blackwater is not the result of his Christian or religious impulses. I mean, it's a business operation, isn't it?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, I believe that Erik Prince is an ideological foot soldier. And I do believe that he's a Christian supremacist. And I think it's very easy to explain that. I mean, look, this is the guy who gave a half a million dollars to Chuck Colson, the first person to go to jail for Watergate who's now becoming a very prominent evangelical minister and an advisor to President Bush, one of the people behind the safe face initiatives.
And Chuck Colson has said things like when Mohammed wrote the Koran, he had had too many tamales the night before. Also one of the leading executives of Blackwater, Joseph Schmidt is an active member of the Military Order of Malta, a Christian militia dating back to the Crusades. And I believe that these men do have an agenda that very closely reflects adherence to a sort of Crusader doctrine.
BILL MOYERS:You just mentioned something that was obvious as I read your book. I mean, this is the revolving door. Cofer Black, head of counter intelligence at the CIA leaves the government, goes to work as the number two man at Blackwater. Guys leave the Pentagon go to work for him.
JEREMY SCAHILL: It's not a revolving door. It's a bridge. They go back and forth.
BILL MOYERS: I mean, it's not unique? This is true of so many of these companies, right?
JEREMY SCAHILL:Right. But Blackwater has emerged sort of as the-- it's almost like an armed wing of the administration in Iraq. Because it doesn't work for the Pentagon. It works for the State Department. And the fact that Blackwater is such a politically connected company I think explains why you see this big push back. Because if I was Ambassador Ryan Crocker, I wouldn't want to come within ten countries of the Blackwater body guards. I mean, when your body guards become more of a target than you, maybe it's time to get a different security detail. So, why is it so important to the US government that they keep Blackwater on the job in Iraq? I think part of it is an institutional loyalty. Blackwater is very fond of saying we've never lost a principle. No US diplomat has died under our watch.
BILL MOYERS: He said that over and over on these interviews.
JEREMY SCAHILL:Oh, yeah. Yeah. And of course, and, you know, the Republicans in Congress during the hearings said that's the statistic that's most important. But the question needs to be asked, at what price? When you ride into a village and you shoot at cars that come too close to you, that has a ricochet effect that where, the people whose vehicle you shot at now have a perception of what happens when US diplomats come around. And then, they go and they tell someone else.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/21/2007 3:11:15 AM
Good post MG...
I have another flavour.
WASHINGTON - Blackwater USA tried to take at least two Iraqi military aircraft out of Iraq two years ago and refused to give the planes back when Iraqi officials sought to reclaim them, according to a congressional committee investigating the private security contractor.
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants the company to provide all documents related to the attempted shipment and to explain where the aircraft are now.
In a letter sent Friday to Erik Prince, Blackwater's top executive, Waxman said he learned of the 2005 attempt from a military official who contacted the committee. That official is not identified in the letter, nor is the type of aircraft.
Most of the guys there get the usual t-shirt.
This prince wants serious knick-knacks.....
Talk about making your own rules.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/21/2007 7:37:12 AM
The sad thing is this was reported on the Public Broadcast System which few people watch .
Quite easy to explain, actually.
There are few major media sources in the USA that are not under corporate control. That's a huge part of the reason why America finds itself in the position it is today. Without that "fourth estate" working independently to oversee the political process, media becomes propagandized.
Anyone watching major US media reporters , and then seeing the same incident reported by media outside of the corporate controlled US corporate media soon wonders if the journalists involved are reporting on the same story.
Watch PBS, CBC, BBC , or other European reports (or any independent journalists work you can easily discover on the internet) and you will see how you are being mislead.
This can't be accidental.
It's formed at the intersection of two main restrictions.
One, there is that corporate control over content. Even "liberal" CNN vetted it's militarily experienced "commentators" with the Pentagon, ensuring that those reporting the war were given a thumbs up by those fighting it.
Two, few US journalists speak foreign languages anymore. That wasn't the case years ago, when you were expected to have such an ability to properly do your story. This means that you can only report the proxy news provided to you by others.
Couple that with a greatly reduced attention span, and the clutter of "infotainment" that's liberally accepted as "news" content, and complex stories that can't be easily explained outside a five or ten second film clip are no longer valid news stories.
Look what's happening with PBS :
BILL MOYERS: I don't know her, but I think it's a serious mistake to put in charge of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting a partisan, whether Democratic partisan or Republican partisan. It undermines the credibility of Public Broadcasting. It accentuates the effort of the appearance that the right wing is succeeding finally after 30 years of trying to eliminate Public Broadcasting. If they can’t eliminate it, they're going to control it with their partisan operatives. It's a very serious inside job.
All the attacks on Public Broadcasting in the past have come from outside. They've come from the Nixon White House, from Newt Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House, and they've been rebuffed because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was led by principled Democrats and Republicans who took seriously their job of resisting pressure from Congress and the White House to influence Public Broadcasting. They can't do that anymore. Now this is an inside job. Kenneth Tomlinson is there as an ally of Karl Rove to help make sure that Public Broadcasting doesn't report the news that they don't want reported. Miss Harris is a Republican partisan. She will work from the inside also to make sure our system is politicized.
BILL MOYERS: Well, she and Kenneth Tomlinson both are involved in the overseas broadcast of the American government, and it seems to me that they both would like to see Public Broadcasting be an arm of government propaganda, in particular the administration's propaganda. That does not surprise -- I’ve not heard that she had said that, but it does not surprise me that she sees the job of Voice of America and other broadcasts abroad, sponsored by the United States government, of putting America's best foot forward. Journalism is about saying we're not putting our best foot forward. Journalism is about reporting the news that we need to -- Napoleon said to his secretary, you know, “If the news from the front is good, you don't need to wake me, I can wait until morning; if the news is bad, I need to get up and act on it, so wake me up.” But these people really want Public Broadcasting and all journalists – and they've essentially intimidated the mainstream media so that you don't get much reporting of what is contrary to the official view of reality. They'd like to see Public Broadcasting silenced, too, or become an arm of the administration and the government.
Again , Bill Moyers....
“In other words,” says Jonathan Mermin, “if the government isn’t talking about it, we don’t report it.” He concludes: “[Lehrer’s] somewhat jarring declaration, one of many recent admissions by journalists that their reporting failed to prepare the public for the calamitous occupation that has followed the ‘liberation’ of Iraq, reveals just how far the actual practice of American journalism has deviated from the First Amendment ideal of a press that is independent of the government.”
Take the example (also cited by Mermin) of Charles J. Hanley. Hanley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Associated Press, whose fall 2003 story on the torture of Iraqis in American prisons — before a U.S. Army report and photographs documenting the abuse surfaced — was ignored by major American newspapers. Hanley attributes this lack of interest to the fact that “it was not an officially sanctioned story that begins with a handout from an official source.”
Furthermore, Iraqis recounting their own personal experience of Abu Ghraib simply did not have the credibility with Beltway journalists of American officials denying that such things happened. Judith Miller of the New York Times, among others, relied on the credibility of official but unnamed sources when she served essentially as the government stenographer for claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Bill Moyers’ speech to the National Conference for Media Reform
"Buying the War" examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what's changed? "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration," says THE WASHINGTON POST's Walter Pincus. "We've sort of given up being independent on our own."
I'd suggest anyone interested in this subject of media complicity watch the show at the same PBS website.
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!
White House Correspondents Dinner
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/21/2007 7:55:22 AM
unless it's given to them on a silver platter on 60 minutes ...
Like it was last week on that great American smoke and glass mirrors invention known as 60 Minutes. Scahill's the person they should have had doing the interview on this Prince guy. Probably as far as most Americans think, this guy Prince came off sounding like a wonderful patriotic fella for America last Sunday night.
When they refused to air the tobacco expose of whistleblowers years ago, i stopped watching 60 minutes. It's degenerated to national Enquirer type journalism. This episode came on immediately following the Patriots Cowboys game last week, so like a trainwreck, i watched a pretty sterile interview. Here's a few excerpts:
"""...In our interview, Prince was eager to communicate Blackwater's version of what happened when 17 civilians were killed in Baghdad last month. He says it all started with a massive car bomb that exploded outside a building where Blackwater was providing security for an American government official.
What happened next is in dispute. Iraqi survivors and witnesses say a Blackwater convoy opened fire without provocation, shooting and killing unarmed civilians. Erik Prince disagrees
"Bad things usually don't happen by themselves in Iraq," Prince tells Logan. "Our guys get shot at on an almost daily basis. They don't even record all the times they take fire."
Based on what he knows at this time, Prince doesn't believe that anybody did anything egregiously wrong. "I've not seen…any evidence to support any kind of egregious, malicious, intentional wrong behavior," he tells Logan.
....A U.S. military report on the shooting says Blackwater employees were not attacked and the killing of civilians was a criminal act.
"What's your response to a U.S. military report that says Blackwater basically were not attacked?" Logan asks.
"I think before, before the military starts releasing reports like that they should probably wait till the Justice Department completes their investigation," Prince says.
"Why do you think the U.S. military didn't find any evidence or ammunition, spent cartridges that they say would have been used the Iraqis. And they did find spent cartridges and some ammunition used by your operators?" Logan asks.
"It's a very large area to search. I doubt they did a CSI-like investigation," Prince replies
We absolutely want more oversight. We welcome the accountability. We want a good name for this industry because we think it plays an important role for what the U.S. policies are going forward," Prince says.
.......People want to know from you, they know about the terrorist bombs, they know about the loss of huge civilian casualties, Iraqis have lived through all of that. When I talk to them they want to know from you, from Blackwater, that you wish those people had not been killed that you wish innocent people didn’t have to die as a result of anything that you’re involved in," Logan says.
"It is absolutely not our wish that any innocent civilians should ever die," Prince says..."""
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/22/2007 11:22:50 PM
|Well here's the latest developments with good ole blackwater:|
Contractor 'command center' recommended in Iraq, sources say
Command center in war zones would help coordinate contractors
The panel was not charged at looking specifically at Blackwater USA
Rice said the panel's determinations are "a very good step forward"
Rep. Henry Waxman questions whether Blackwater evaded paying taxes
A panel recommended to the State Department that the U.S. create a "central command center" to improve coordination among agencies using private security contractors in war zones, senior State Department officials and others familiar with the review told CNN Monday.
The panel also recommended a thorough examination of the rules of engagement, especially when using deadly force, the sources said.
Led by Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy, the panel briefed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday on its recommendations. Other members include retired Gen. George Joulwan, Ambassador Stapleton Roy and Ambassador Eric Boswell.
Rice said the recommendations "point a very good way forward, and I intend to act on them expeditiously."
The panel did not focus on the September 16 incident in which Blackwater USA guards are accused of opening fire in Nusoor Square, an incident Iraqi authorities say killed 17 civilians. The Iraqi government has called Blackwater's actions "premeditated murder" and has called for the company to leave Iraq.
Blackwater officials have insisted the guards fired only after they were shot at following a nearby bombing.
Following the incident, Rice instructed Kennedy to undertake a complete review of the use of contractors in Iraq. Kennedy immediately proposed initial steps to improve contractor accountability, including more electronic surveillance in convoys and more government-employed diplomatic security guards working alongside contractors, which Rice promptly implemented.
The State Department and the FBI are conducting their own investigations into the shootings and a joint U.S.-Iraqi commission is reviewing the results of both probes.
The panel reporting to the State Department was charged with examining the larger issues of management, rules of engagement, oversight and legal authority over private security contractors.
Those familiar with the review said members found a lack of coordination and communication between U.S. diplomats and military officials and little oversight over private security contractors.
"We are looking for a unity of effort," one person familiar with the recommendations told CNN. "You need to create a system where you know in a war zone who is traveling through the battle space, what time you are going through what checkpoints, when they are getting where."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called for unified control of the use of contractors. The sources said it was possible that the military could take on that role, but it was unclear what Gates and Rice would decide when they sit down later this week.
"Your mission may be to get someone from point A to point B safely, but you have to judge if your actions have an impact on the larger mission," a source said. "What sort of risk are you willing to take? Look at what risks soldiers take. If you are not in imminent danger, you don't unload your weapon."
The panel also found a gap in accountability of contractors because of a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, which gave security contractors immunity from Iraqi law. Earlier this month, the House overwhelmingly voted to place private contractors overseas firmly under U.S. law, allowing American courts to prosecute crimes committed in a war zone.
The recommendations in the review would apply to management of all private security contractors in Iraq, including the U.S. embassy, U.S. military and others. The panel agreed with the assessment of diplomatic security officials who argued contractors would be needed to provide security for U.S. officials in Iraq for some time to come.
"Blackwater is one of three contractors being used by the U.S. and one of ten to fifteen being used in country by the U.S., the U.N. and others," one person familiar with the recommendations said. "The military can't do it all alone. You are going to be living with this for some time and so you need to have rules, regulations and a methodology."
The panel recommended Rice coordinate the next steps with the Pentagon and act with "a sense of urgency -- within days or weeks," the source said.
Rice said she may implement some of the recommendations specific to the State Department immediately, before sitting down with Gates.
Meanwhile on Monday, a congressional committee investigating Blackwater's performance questioned whether the North Carolina-based firm may have evaded paying millions of dollars in taxes.
By classifying its workers in Iraq as "independent contractors" rather than as "employees," Blackwater appears to have engaged in an "illegal tax scheme" that avoided an estimated $31 million in employment-related taxes in the last year of its contract alone, said Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California.
Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also accused the company of preventing a guard who discovered the practice "from contacting members of Congress or law enforcement officials."
"It is deplorable that a company that depends on federal tax dollars for over 90 percent of its business would even contemplate forbidding an employee to report corporate wrongdoing to Congress and federal law enforcement officials," Waxman wrote in a letter to Blackwater founder and CEO Erik Prince.
Blackwater denied the allegations in a statement issued Monday, telling reporters, "The chairman's contention is incorrect. The United States Government has always been aware of Blackwater's relationship with its deployed personnel."
Waxman's committee has been looking into the use of private security contractors in Iraq and has held Blackwater -- which has won more than $1 billion worth of government contracts since 2001 -- up to particular scrutiny.
Waxman asked Blackwater to provide his Committee with documents related to Monday's inquiry by November 19.
The latest allegations stem from a March 2007 letter from the Internal Revenue Service to Blackwater obtained by Waxman's committee. The letter informs Blackwater that the IRS reviewed the case of one single Blackwater worker in Afghanistan and determined that the individual should rightfully and legally be classified as an employee -- not an independent contractor -- for tax purposes.
That would require the company to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes and unemployment insurance premiums for its employees. The letter finds the ruling "may be applicable to any other individuals engaged by the firm under similar circumstances."
But Blackwater said the company has appealed the ruling, and "no final determination by the IRS has been made." An IRS official assigned to the case told CNN he was not authorized to talk to the media, and his manager did not immediately respond to CNN's request for information on the status of Blackwater's case.
In addition, Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the security contractor who protested his employment status to the IRS was "a problem employee" who had similarly sought money from a previous employer. Tyrrell said the situation is "very easily explained, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it."
Blackwater and the former guard signed a settlement and confidentiality agreement in June, a copy of which was released by the Congressional committee. According to the document, both parties agreed not to contact any politician, public official, or Blackwater client about the issue.
And Blackwater said the Small Business Administration does not consider Blackwater's guards to be employees under its definitions. That finding stems from a small business contract awarded to Blackwater by the Navy, which was contested by other companies bidding for the contract.
But SBA spokeswoman Christine Mangi told CNN the agency's findings, "To the best of our knowledge ... carry no legal weight outside of our programs."
Waxman said, "The SBA doesn't determine the tax status for Blackwater or any other taxpayer. "It's a question for the IRS and, in this case, common sense," he said. "The IRS and common sense both tell us Blackwater shouldn't evade its responsibilities by wrongly designating their employees as independent contractors."
This independent contractor lawsuit has some personal interest for me, obviously for personal reasons. It'll be interesting how this part shakes out. There's lots of independent contractors that think they're independent that really aren't and there's lots of companies around that try to tell their independent contractors that they're not really employed by, say for example here, Blackwater, when in essence it's later found out that they are actually employees and entitled to whatever benefits may come from that.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/24/2007 4:08:26 PM
|So, another one bites the dust in the military heirarchy...|
...In Washington, the State Department's security chief, Richard Griffin, announced his resignation a day after a review panel created by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a series of measures to boost government oversight of the private guards who protect American diplomats in Iraq.
Rice's review panel found serious lapses in the department's oversight of such guards, who are employed by Griffin's bureau.
Neither Griffin nor spokesmen for the department's Diplomatic Security Bureau could be reached for immediate comment...
Iraq Determined to Expel Blackwater USA
Oct 24 06:47 PM US/Eastern
By STEVEN R. HURST
Associated Press Writer
Richard J. Griffin (2005 - 2007)- a former Secret Service Agent and former Inspector General of the Veteran's Administration. Resigned October 24, 2007
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/27/2007 5:49:08 PM
most universities in american are liberal, some blatantly so
all journalism schools in america are liberal, i only know of one conservative professor at one journalism school in the entire country.
So most places where it is peoples jobs to know a great deal of facts=liberal.
liberalism is a mental disorder!
So knowledge of the facts is a mental disorder.
finally, the soros factor....soros, with billions of dollars has bot and paid for coverage.
its done quite quietly, by hiring and only printing left slanted things, both to get numbers and those seeking both sides of the story are quitely told if they appreciate their jobs they will do them another way.
As opposed to lets say Rupert Murdoch right? Funny I never see you complaining about his media ownership.
|Black Water U.S. Shadow Army |
Posted: 10/27/2007 6:04:28 PM
i was a journalist and graduated with a degree in journalism from a major state university btw...
Missed the class on capitalizing the first word in a sentence, I presume ?
It's bought , not "bot".
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.
Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.
A Liberal Definition by John F. Kennedy:
Acceptance Speech of the New York
Liberal Party Nomination
September 14, 1960
Far from a mental disorder, it's possibly the most American thing I can think of.
"The property of this country is absolutely concentred in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards... I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on."
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, October 28,1785. ME 19:17, Papers 8:682
6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)