Archive for Blackwater

Pardoned Iran-Contra figure aided #Bergdahl hunt

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the more you know msnbc Iran-Contra

The Sunday Los Angeles Times has a substantive report about now-freed Bowe Bergdahl's captors. It chronicles the events that led to his release and provides background on the groups involved with his imprisonment. They break down the timeline as best they can in the years-long efforts by the U.S. to find and rescue Bergdahl. It's interesting stuff, worth a read. One nugget in particular caught my eye: How U.S. officials relied on a private company in the search. And one of those hired by that company was a guy who was indicted for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal.

We paid Sunni militants for peace during Bush's fraudulent war, we paid private contractors to fight that war-- Blackwater. That ended well, didn't it?-- and then we paid a private intel group to aid in Bergdahl's recovery. And in turn, they paid local tattletales. We sure do have a lot of spare cash lying around:

The U.S. search for Bergdahl, and his ultimate release, involved an array of U.S. and foreign military and intelligence agencies.

It also included a private intelligence outfit called the Eclipse Group that was run by a former top CIA operations officer, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge.

In 1991, Clarridge was indicted on seven counts of perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before his trial was over. He has said he maintained a network of spies and informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan after he left the CIA.

A former Eclipse member said the group paid local informants to collect intelligence, which was passed on to U.S. military commanders searching for Bergdahl.

According to a senior member of the U.S. military who was part of the search for Bergdahl, the Eclipse reports included not only facts, but also rumors. In spite of the unreliability of some of the information, he said, "We take everything we can get." Even advice from an Iran-Contra perjurer.

The more you know.

funfacts

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Privatizing cops: Because of budget cuts, "even police protection is more accessible to those with cash."

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privatization

Economic experts, and the president of the United States, have been emphasizing stimulus spending, not austerity, to get us out of the Big Recession mess BushCo created. But Republicans have insisted on cut after cut after cut.

All those Big Bad Government Jobs that the GOP keeps wailing about? Those include police officers, the very men and women who, you know, protect us from the "bad guys with guns." So cities and towns all over America are slashing their police forces because of deep budget cuts, the ones that have proved disastrous time after time.

The result isn't pretty, but it's what Republicans strive for: Privatization. It's creeping up on us and that's just what those on the right want: They salivate over crushing unions (a major source of funding for Democrats) and before we realize what's been happening, they're transforming the valuable public services we treasure and so badly need and depend on into profit-making machines that cater only to those who can afford them.

Welcome to GOP CorporateWorld.

Via the L.A. Times:

As police focus more on responding to crime rather than preventing it, private detectives and security firms are often taking on the roles that police once did, investigating robberies, checking out alibis, looking into threats.

Swell. Because of those pesky budget cuts, people are now turning to detectives, security firms and the *gasp!* Internet for protection, investigative talent, and more.

Of course, not everyone can afford private police help.

ding ding dingGet the picture?

It's another facet of how income inequality is playing out in America — as cities are forced to cut their budgets, even police protection is more accessible to those with cash.

ding!

Samuel Walker, emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the author of 13 books on policing:

Inequality has always been present: Millionaires hire bodyguards, rich neighborhoods pay for private security patrols. But this budget crisis makes the difference even more pronounced...

ding clang

Remember the uproar over Blackwater aka Xe aka Academi, the private military company and security consulting firm? Wiki:

[It is] currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors. Academi provided diplomatic security services in Iraq to the United States federal government on a contractual basis.[1]

That uproar was for a reason. This is not to say that private security firms will become havens for Blackwater-type thugs, that isn't my point. Privatization is my point.

Remember the uproar by Republicans over any kind of federal oversight ever in the history of ever?

Me too.

Can you afford $150 an hour? I can't. If trends like this continue, we the people, we the little guys, are screwed.

This cannot end well.

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Supreme Court Won't Stop Blackwater Contractors Prosecution

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Sad that I get so excited about somebody finally paying for their crimes.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court won't stop prosecutors from going after four Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqis.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Evan Liberty, Donald Ball, Dustin Heard and Paul Slough.

A federal judge threw out the case, saying the Justice Department mishandled evidence and violated the guards' rights. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reinstated the charges.

The court refused to reconsider that decision without comment.

Blackwater security contractors are accused of opening fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007. Seventeen people were killed and 20 others wounded. Prosecutors said the shooting was unprovoked.

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Xe, Formerly Known As Blackwater, Changes Name To Academi

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And as it always is with Blackwater, it's so they can get back into Iraq where the big "contracting" (mercenary) work is.

"The company formerly known as Blackwater is now the company formerly known as Xe. The Wall Street Journal reports that the security contractor is announcing it’s switched its name to Academi, all part of an effort to be more “boring.” Academi president and CEO Ted Wright told WSJ that the company has hired an outside company to help it apply for an operating licence in Iraq. “I think eventually, we’re going to get a license; we’re going to do business in Iraq,” Wright said.">The company formerly known as Blackwater is now the company formerly known as Xe.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the security contractor is announcing it’s switched its name to Academi, all part of an effort to be more “boring.”

Academi president and CEO Ted Wright told WSJ that the company has hired an outside company to help it apply for an operating licence in Iraq.

“I think eventually, we’re going to get a license; we’re going to do business in Iraq,” Wright said.

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US report: Private contractors at record in Afghan war

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Because Blackwater (my Blackwater for Dummeez Primer is at that link) has worked out so well:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The number of private security personnel working for the US military in Afghanistan rose to 18,919 at the end of last year, the highest level used in any conflict by the United States, a congressional report said.

The Congressional Research Service report said that the number of private security contractor personnel in Afghanistan has more than tripled since June 2009.

The firms provide security across violence-wracked Afghanistan to groups ranging from foreign militaries and embassies to non-governmental organizations to media companies.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai isn't a fan of private contractors like Blackwater Xe WhateverTheyCallThemselvesNow.  In his opinion, they "loot and steal, have links to criminal groups and might even fund insurgents." This report should greatly reassure him, then.

Our State Department is spending zillions on a bunch of thugs, yet our own military gets paid a fraction of what Blackwater makes, all while Blackwater and their ilk are draining people from our armed forces so that they can increase their salaries.

That doesn't sound like the American Way to me.

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Use of Contractors Added to Chaos of Iraq War, Trove of Documents Shows

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Just a brief FYI post:

Via an e-mail alert from the New York Times:

A huge archive of documents from the Iraq war, released by WikiLeaks, shows a multitude of shortcomings with the military's reliance on private contractors. The contractors lacked coordination with coalition forces and often shot with little discrimination -- and few if any consequences -- at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage.

The documents also portray the long history of tensions between Kurds and Arabs in the north of Iraq and reveal the fears of some American units about what might happen after American troops leave the country by the end of 2011.

I've written about our reliance on private contractors (like Blackwater) many a time, and for good reason. Why our State Department still has them under contract is beyond many of us.

Additionally, Greg Mitchell just tweeted: "The New York Times analysis for what WikiLeaks logs on Iraq mean for Afghan war--tribal cooperation, not surge, was the key."

And with that, I'm off to record Tim Corrimal's radio show.

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Blackwater contractor skates

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Via an e-mailed news alert:

SEATTLE (AP) AP NewsBreak: Former Blackwater contractor will not be indicted in 2006 Iraqi killing

Once again, Blackwater skates.

UPDATE:

But U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said Monday that prosecutors decided there wasn't enough evidence to sustain a criminal conviction for the killing. [...]

After the shooting, Blackwater arranged to have the State Department fly Moonen, a former Army Ranger, back to the United States. The company then fired him and fined him. Blackwater paid Saadoun's family $15,000.

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