Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
a book by Jeremy Scahill
(our site's book review)
This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most powerful players in the “War on Terror.” In his gripping bestseller, award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill takes us from the bloodied streets of Iraq to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to the chambers of power in Washington, to expose Blackwater (which has its own military base, a fleet of 20 aircraft, and 20,000 troops at the ready) as the frightening new face of the U.S. war machine. Blackwater operates in war zones, in concert with U.S. forces, but without the accountability, however flawed, of the official military. The book is a remarkable and bracing wake up call about the privatization of war and how that subverts even basic notions of democracy. See Democracy—an American Delusion.
Scahill is the swinging banjo in the movie Deliverance, forewarning us of grave repercussions should we continue on the wrongheaded mercenary-backed Might Makes Right path we're on
Democracy in the USA is degenerating rapidly, but perhaps the shock of the coming collapse will be the wake-up call we need to reestablish a balanced new democracy based on wisdom, humanism, respect for knowledge and learning, and vigilant responsibility. In the meantime, the privatization of war in U.S. military strategy subverts even basic notions of democracy.
"This engrossing investigative piece exposing, in shocking detail, a U.S.-government-outsourced Frankenstein replete with helicopter gunships may leave you incredulous. But you better believe it, for it poses a grave and gathering danger to the future of our Republic."—Ray McGovern, CIA veteran and former intelligence briefer to George H. W. Bush
As far as private security companies go, the mercenary army Blackwater is a U.S.-government-outsourced Frankenstein replete with helicopter gunships
"Should our nation enter a period of instability following another terrorist attack on American soil, an economic collapse, or a series of environmental disasters, the tyranny that groups such as Blackwater impose on others could become the tyranny they impose on us. The rise of this unchecked mercenary force, as Jeremy Scahill understands, could presage the final stage in the collapse of American democracy."—Chris Hedges, former New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief
The private security company (mercenary army) Blackwater is a U.S.-government-outsourced Frankenstein replete with helicopter gunships
The downsizing of the U.S. military in the early 1990s has created a chance for private enterprise to supply specialized training for the armed forces as well as for police. According to Scahill, several events contributed to the company’s growth: The 1999 Columbine High School mass murder which killed 13. Blackwater was paying attention—they created a high school building replica complete with sound effects of screaming students to train hundreds of SWAT officers. A second important contributing event was the 2000 suicide boat attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen which killed 17. Result: Blackwater received a multimillion dollar Navy contract to train Navy personnel to better protect ships and naval facilities. A third important contributing event was the 9/11 attacks in 2001. This caused another bigger surge in Blackwater business contracts for training personnel from almost every branch of government, even the FBI. Blackwater was next given jobs guarding certain U.S. personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Academi LLC, Blackwater's new name, has been notorious for various high-profile scandals, including allegations of fraud and death threats, weapons trafficking, and involvement in the massacre of civilians in Iraq. Blackwater charges the government $1,222 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, so the cost-to-benefit ratio in this arrangement has come under serious scrutiny by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. And then on October 2014, the four former Blackwater security guards who screwed up in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, killing 17 innocent Iraqi civilians, were found guilty by a U.S. federal jury and convicted on murder, manslaughter, and weapons charges. (Source: Academi LLC (formerly Xe and Blackwater Worldwide))
A mercenary army helicopter with troops
Private mercenaries like Blackwater can and do kill with impunity. They can and do get away with war crimes (but also get jailed occasionally)—and our military supports them and Blackwater charges outrageous fees to the government. So in 2004, when local Islamic Iraqis killed four Blackwater operatives and hung their burned bodies from a bridge in Fallujah, it was not unprovoked Muslim terror but retaliation for far greater amounts of terror that had been inflicted by trigger-happy American bullies in Iraqi neighborhoods. A whistleblowing (Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden) Scahill unflinchingly presents the parts of the stories we don't often hear from the mainstream media propaganda machine, which either never learns these aspects at all or is ordered to keep them secret. See Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare.
U.S. personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq are often aided by Blackwater (now known as Academi)
Scahill rightfully brings up the topic of the Christian right's inappropriate involvement with foreign policy, especially during Dubya Bush's 8-year term. (Blackwater founder Erik Prince is a “radical right-wing Christian supremacist” and “anti-Muslim” and for this Scahill offers extensive support and documentation.) The Christian Right recognized their potential to become significant political actors in the US polity after Pat Robertson’s unsuccessful presidential attempt in 1988. Robertson’s Christian Coalition showed the way by successfully infiltrating the Republican Party and its supporters taking over numerous state parties to such an extent that today they constitute some forty percent of the party. This political force, organized around a small number of key social issues (abortion, school prayer, etc.) and fiscal conservatism, was utilized by Karl Rove to engineer Dubya Bush’s victories in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Later, Barack Obama, courting the evangelical vote, continued Bush’s faith-based initiatives with a reconstituted Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and he appointed a 25-member religious advisory council, including representatives of the Christian Right. According to Scahill, several of Blackwater's top officials are extreme religious zealots, some of whom appear to believe they are engaged in an epic battle for the defense of Christendom (like Dubya, who specifically characterized the Iraq War as a Crusade).
Little is more dangerous to world peace and stability than a simpleton who knows God is on his side as he lays waste to the Middle East, becoming a legend in his own mind by fulfilling biblical prophesies
According to Scahill, "Erik Prince is a radical right-wing Christian supremacist who, from the very beginning of the so-called war on terror, viewed the role of Blackwater in the world as being neo-crusaders. And he is a radical anti-Muslim. And he hates the religion of Islam. And he—his company, basically, was allowed to operate in an atmosphere where they would kill Muslims for sport inside of Iraq. . . . [there were] whistleblowers within Blackwater, who have said that their pilots in their helicopters would drive around, and they literally would go, quote-unquote, 'hunting' for people and that it didn’t matter whether they had anything to do with 9/11, they were all the enemy. And there was a tone set in the company, and I know this from people that were there and that would hear Erik Prince’s speeches. He would talk about the so-called war on terror in these epic historical terms of a battle of civilization, of the Christian world versus the Islamic world." It goes without saying that bigotry in a war on terror is very dangerous and it cannot help but precipitate even more blowback than these wars already are—in the form of terrorism against the unprovoked Western invaders. (Source: Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater Execs Remain Free as Guards Convicted for Killing 14 Iraqis in Massacre)
9/11 terrorist attack
"In sworn statements, two ex-employees claim Blackwater’s owner, Erik Prince, murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. One also charged that Prince 'views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.'" (Source: In Explosive Allegations, Ex-Employees Link Blackwater Founder to Murder, Threats, 2009)
The rise of the use of private mercenary soldiers and intelligence spooks, especially since 9/11, is a manifestation of the famous warning Eisenhower gave of the misplaced power of the military industrial complex. Since the Afghanistan War, the number of civilian contractors deployed actually came to exceed the number of uniformed service personnel. This is a way for elites to cheat—to cook the books, as it were. Contractors are less accountable to public opinions. The concept of a privatized, mercenary army with no overt control or accountable standards driven only by one thing—war for profit—is something that does need to be brought to light, and Scahill does a good job of it, exposing the fact that privatization of military functions does not appear to save any money, particularly when the Pentagon hands out cost-plus and no-bid contracts. However, Scahill's book is as much about the U.S. mishandling of Iraq as it is about the growth of privatized military in the U.S. He does a good job of investigative reporting. The mainstream media never reports this information, so he is doing their job for them—perhaps they should all send him part of their paychecks!
Bush and Obama love playing God, swatting to death anyone they don't like the looks of and making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as
The book gives us a chance to rethink the drone execution of Anwar al-Awaki. There are shocking accounts of drone strikes that hit families, towns, and teenagers, and the sanitization coverups that went with these war crimes. People will be shocked to hear about "signature strikes"—the killing of people who just fit a profile of a terrorist. It is the equivalent of having a room full of suspects in a police department and you're positive one of them is guilty but you cannot determine which one of the suspects did it so you throw a hand grenade into the room and kill them all, thereby being sure you've punished the guilty party. The innocents that died? Oh well, it just wasn't their day! See The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program.
The unelected elites are the lords of secrecy—they are unaccountable, secret, and beyond our reach, yet they run things
This is a thoroughly researched book about the misdeeds and screwups of the Blackwater company. (So this is the way our government is managing conflicts? We want a refund of our taxes!) From running roughshod all over Iraq with no fear of having to answer for war crimes, to being an armed militia on the streets of New Orleans after Katrina, this book exposes how the Bush administration allowed Erik Prince and his Blackwater guards to cost the taxpayer billions of dollars. Scahill needed a bit more balance. He ignored the fact that they provided a valuable protection service in between misdeeds, etc., but he capably draws strong links between the private security contractor industry's growth and the shadow government's War on Terror and gives a good insight into how Blackwater operations were run.
"Might makes right" seems to be the War on Terror motto shared by Bush, Obama, and Blackwater, but excuse us if we're a bit sceptical of this motto's veracity.
The shadow government has an effect on the world that betrays that a very different—unacknowledged—motto is at play: "might makes stupid." And we pay taxes to these ass clowns?
It turns out that even though the government has told us all the NSA spying was to protect us and prevent "terrorism," the citizens were getting suspicious—about everything, including such things as Blackwater. Check national polls. The citizens were getting suspicious about 9/11 and how that led to a trumped-up War on Terror which then led to the oligarchs creating a national security state to "protect us," although the evidence shows the NSA hasn't protected anyone or caught any terrorist plots. But it has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution too.
The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution