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Black Water

[UPDATE: See new post, Jeremy Scahill: "one of the Blackwater mercenaries told us that he had been deputized by the governor of Louisiana."]

I've spent days scrutinizing satellite photos of New Orleans, helping people check out their houses. Inevitably, if they or their neighbors had a swimming pool, the turquoise blue of the pool visible on the pre-Katrina image is black on Digital Globe's shots from August 31st 10 AM. Also, as I said in a previous post, I was pretty certain that certain corporate names, familiar from the mercenary industry in Iraq, were going to turn up in New Orleans. So this evening I got an email from Patrick Nielsen Hayden informing me that Blackwater's in New Orleans.  Bodyguards to the coalition, they have a certain cowboy reputation among the private "security" firms. The style of their website tends to be a little over-the-top macho in comparison to other private military firms, whose websites tend to mimic accounting firms, as though it was sercurities (in the plural) they were selling, rather than "security."

And, yes, those were Blackwater guys who died in Falluja, touching off the public revelation that at Paul Bremer's instigation, Iraq was awash in mercenaries who were pulling down salaries ten times what the American troops stationed there were making. Blackwater. From a novelistic standpoint, it is inevitable that they would turn up in the city in which there is so much water and on the satellite photos it looks like a black stain. And really, when you hire mercenaries, a certain amount of murkiness about accountability is part of what you are paying for. I lost track: were any of the private contractors implicated in the torture documented in the Taguba report ever actually charged with anything? What ever happened to John Israel and Steve Stephanowitz?

Sending Blackwater into New Orleans is the twenty-first century's sad answer to that quaint twentieth-century phrase "send in the marines." It is the public confession that too much of our infrastructure has been "privatized," by which we mean that services formerly provided by government employees accountable to the American people can now be purchased, often at much higher prices, from the private sector, opening up much larger opportunities for war (and now disaster) profiteering. This is not to say that there aren't talented, strong, idealistic young men working for companies like Blackwater. But rather the privatization of these areas of endeavor, in light of the Iraq experience, is part cynical exercise in looting of the public treasuries, and part liberating the government from the burdensome accountability that keeps public employees from behaving like action heroes do in the movies.

Put yourself in the shoes of those frightened, traumatized people holed up in their houses, determined to hang on because what's left of their houses is all they have left in the world. What would you do if one of these big burly Blackwater guys, with sunglasses and a sub-machine gun, showed up on your doorstep and instructed you to evacuate? As nearly as I can tell, New Orleans is awash in rumor. Suppose you had heard that they weren't really rescuing black people, but rather were rounding them up and putting them in concentration camps, something I wish were further from the truth [link via Xeni at boingboing]. What happens if the man from Blackwater reacts badly to your response?

And how much is Blackwater being paid to prance around with guns while firefighters who came for free are used as props for political photo ops?

(Via Attytood, thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden.)

A FURTHER THOUGHT: In August of 1955, Hurricane Connie passed through the Delaware Valley, followed shortly by the remnants of Hurricane Diane. This resulted in the Great Flood of 1955. As the late science fiction literary agent Virginia Kidd (at the time of the flood, Mrs. James Blish) told the story, the flood waters rose up to the window sills of the main floor of the house (to a depth of about 4 ft on one side of the house, and much deeper on the other side, as Arrowhead has a daylight basement). The waters stayed for two weeks. Meanwhile, Virginia and her family stayed at Judy Merrill's house, on much higher ground, 3 doors down from the Milford stoplight (for those who've been there). As I recall, Virginia said they spent the whole time playing cards, waiting for the waters to recede. Much of the contents of the house had to be discarded because the flooded houses all had septic systems and the septic systems had been destroyed. But the Blish family still had their house.

But not for long. The US government took most of the houses in the flood zone by eminent domain and tore many of them down. There was a plan for a vast flood management program involving making the whole area a lake. The plan was never enacted. When I worked for Virginia in the late 1980s, we were still sweeping the Delaware River mud out of the floor boards.

Virginia was allowed to rent the family house back from the government for the rest of her life, though if the Feds had ever decided to act on their plan, she would have been evicted. And the house it is where she founded and ran the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. And when she died a few years ago, the agency was allowed to continue operating in the house, and there they are still.

Why is Blackwater in New Orleans to do work that many others have volunteered to do for free? Two words: Eminent Domain. Think about it.

What is Eminent Domain?
Eminent Domain is how the government takes your property for a public purpose, whether you chose to sell it to them or not, at a price they specify. In Kelo vs. New London, the supreme court vastly expanded the powers of government to take property in situations where it was arguably for a private, not a public, purpose. The American Bar Association outlines it thusly:

The exercise of eminent domain has a central role in urban redevelopment, smart growth, water quality improvements, wild land preservation and restoration, and a host of environmental and energy infrastructure projects.
The Fifth Amendment enjoins: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This Quick Teleconference will examine the Supreme Court's recently decided 5th Amendment cases Kelo v. New London, No. 04-108 (June 23, 2005) and Lingle v. Chevron, 125 S. Ct. 2074 (May 23, 2005). In Kelo, the Court by a 5-4 majority upheld the City of New London, Connecticut's condemnation of 15 homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood for the sole purpose of furthering economic redevelopment around a planned pharmaceutical research facility. The QT will discuss the extent to which the decision allows governmental officials to condemn private property for the purpose of increasing tax revenues and promoting development.

In Lingle, the Court held in another 5-4 opinion that the 5th Amendment does not engender inquiry into whether the regulation "substantially advances" legitimate state interests, as it would with an issue under the Due Process Clause. Instead, how the amendment applies is a function of the extent and duration of the governmental action.

Translation: in situations like Katrina, Kelo vastly expands the opportunities for corporate looting.

ONE FINAL QUESTION: Under exactly whose authority is Blackwater exerting police powers?

See, for example, this passage from a NOLA account on BoingBoing:

We got yelled at some by police and official-types who wanted us out of areas where they were operating. Herding media isn't really their job, but they weren't rude about it 
(just brusque). The Blackwater employees, on the other hand, were phenomenally unpleasant. Jake has a lot more to add soon, I'm sure, but there's a serious question 
as to the authority of these mercenaries.

I imagine that FEMA might enjoy an arrangement with them rather like Paul Bremmer had Bagdad. Except that's impossible because of the extremely peculiar legal circumstances 
under which the Provisional Authority functioned. New Orleans is under Federal, State, and Local law.  There is a state of emergency, yes, 
but a subcontracted State of Martial Law is difficult to exaplin.

UPDATE 12/11: I just went looking to see why this post on Blackwater from three months ago  was getting so much traffic. It seems there has been an uptick on news coverage
of Blackwater lately. One item that caught my eye was a November 29th piece from the Village Voice, Relief at the Point of a Gun:

Among other things, Blackwater's men with big guns can be found guarding the Jewish Community Center on lovely St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans, 
a FEMA recovery center in one of the most recovered neighborhoods in the city, where the gym is open for business and the Salvation Army is giving out hot meals.
It is not an area where anyone normally shoots to kill.

"You're not taking a picture of me, are you?" asks a middle-aged man with a military tattoo, a Blackwater hat, and two pistols, who is immediately 
joined by an even beefier and younger colleague. When asked who they're working for, the older man says, "The federal government. We're providing security."

So, now that it's common knowledge that Blackwater has contracts with FEMA, what I want to know is why wouldn't people who took exception 
to what I'd written back in September admit the existence of the contract.  Come on, guys. That wasn't fair, now was it?

If you're going to show up to tell the liberal chick in Pleasantville that she Just Doesn't Know, you've got to be straight with me. Those are the rules of engagement here.

 

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Black Water:

I'm running out of expressions of amazement from Making Light
Quick, ask me who's patrolling in New Orleans right now. Just ask.It's Blackwater USA: armed private commandos. If you think... [Read More]

I'm running out of expressions of amazement from Making Light
Quick, ask me who's patrolling in New Orleans right now. Just ask.It's Blackwater USA: armed private commandos. If you think... [Read More]

Katrina: FEMA bars Red Cross from NOLA; Blackwater gets carte blanche from Boing Boing
Armed mercenaries from private security contract firm Blackwater USA are patrolling the streets of New Orleans; Red Cross workers are still unable to enter the city.
The name Blackwater may ring a bell for those who've been following that other Gulf wa... [Read More]

Ma'am, You Called for a Gun for Hire? from What Do I Know?
When Gov. Kathleen Blanco told the President we need everything you've got I don't think she meant mercenaries. But they're there now, the same mercenaries
from Blackwater private security firm who've been in Iraq, pulling down salaries far in excess [Read More]

=====================

Discounting the reputation of Blackwater, their own pictures suggest that they have armed men in New Orleans who are not wearing any uniform.

It isn't hard to imagine an honest security guard on a press photograph being turned into evidence of insurgency.

So what don't Blackwater think of that?

This pisses me off.

There isn't a whole lot more to say, I've said it all elsewhere.

I can say I'd probably me more likely to shoot one of them, than I would a run of the mill, "looter."

Kelo is an interesting angle to this, but I think it was not necessarily a 'vast expansion' of government powers in and of itself. The decision was predicated on New London having gone through an extensive planning and review process to get to where it got.

That may or may not be a fig leaf for 'developer corruption,' but the notion of a struggling community arriving at a considered decision about how to develop itself -- and of course then fairly compensate those who are affected by those decisions -- is also a principle worth preserving.

That said, railroading a New Orleans redevelopment plan -- minus any inhabitants to weigh in on it -- is definitely not a good idea.

Re Blackwater: like Teresa Nielsen Hayden, words fail me, too.

I've been thinking all along about how this tragedy will play out in the long run. And about how much others have planned for it. I'm quite sure New Orleans, like all large American cities, has powerful real estate interests, probably allied with national or international corporations. With the new powers of eminent domain for private profit, they are no doubt slavering over the possibility of bulldozing the 9th Ward and erecting condo towers.

As for Blackwater, it doesn't surprise me. Halliburton already has some reconstruction contracts for the area, so why not "contractors" for "security" as well. Private thugs are so much more efficient than actual police, fire or military when it comes to removing those pesky holdouts who might squawk or try to save some of their personal property when they realize their damged but reparable house is going to be burned or bulldozed.
They're just a more sinister-looking example of "smaller government." Ross Perot took over running the Social Security records and made millions in profits. Blackwater and its colleagues are doing the same with the police and military.

Dear Kathryn [by email 9 Sep 05; resubmitted on blog]

First, congratulations on your great job blogging this tragedy. My wife, Professor Christine M. Carmichael,(dual citizenship in Great Britain and Australia) remarks that "in any civilized country, this debacle would bring down the government." Then, not having read any blogs such as your and Making Light, she asked "Can Michael Brown be tried for murder?"

Second, I have a comment and am not sure where you might want it. There was that thread about the 50 richest zip codes, in which this logically fits.

However, in the context of the rich/poor divide in America that Katrina re-exposed, and the debate about how to rebuild New Orleans, there is some broader importance to the issue of home affordability.

Home affordability hits new low
14% of county households able to buy $543,890
median-priced dwelling

By Rodney Tanaka, Staff Writer
"Buying a median-priced home in Los Angeles County is tougher than ever, according to figures released Thursday [8 Sep 2005]."

"In July [2005], only 14 percent of households could afford the county's median-priced, existing home, then priced at $543,890, according to the California Association of Realtors."

"That's a record, dipping below the previous low of 15 percent recorded in June and in 1989, said Robert Kleinhenz, CAR's deputy chief economist."

"The median home price for July increased about 20 percent from the same period last year, he said."

"At some point, people will exhaust the ability to stretch themselves financially, said Kleinhenz...."

What were the comparable figures for New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, etcetera, and what can they be expected to be under various reconstruction scenarios?

I believe that Los Angeles County is the most populous in the USA, so this is not a matter of one (or even a few dozen) zip codes.

Blackwater's presence has nothing to do with government contracts. They are commercial contracts--guarding hotels, businesses, etc. because the people that own or are responsible for these things do not have confidence in the government entities that are supposed to be protecting them. They are not going door to door kicking people out. Oh, but wait--BlackWATER=BlackHELICOPTERS!!!!!!!! There is a conspiracy everywhere!

So, anoymous. You work in their contracts department? Do tell. How much do these guys make an hour?

>, the supreme court vastly expanded the powers of >government to take property in situations

they said it was a state matter not a federal matter. it was one of their "we like state rights when we agree" not one of their "we hate state rights rights when we disagre" rulings.

ALRIGHT I PROMISE THIS IS THE LAST REVISION:

FEMA "DISAPPEARING" BODIES IN NOLA?
Skeletons (Real Ones) in Bush's Closet

http://www.votetoimpeach.org/

There are some very troubling developments regarding the collecting of
bodies in NOLA. The company hired to do the collection is Kenyon
International. Kenyon International is owned by SCI, a major Bush
contributor. SCI was involved in a scandal called "Funeralgate" wherein
thousands of
bodies were improperly and fraudulently disposed of in mass graves of in
violation of numerous State and Federal laws on numreous occasions. Rather
than prosecute the company, the then Governor George W Bush and and his
campaign manager and future FEMA director Joe Allbaugh seemingly helped the
company engage in a coverup. Both Bush and Allbaugh were named as defendants
in a lawsuit regarding the issue.

The fact FEMA and the Bush Administration seem to be intent on blocking
media coverage of the collection of bodies, and unsubstantiated rumours of
"mishandling" of bodies in NOLA already circulating should lead to great
concern among the public. Is the Government planning to cover up the number
of dead in NOLA as they covered up the Abu Ghraib scandal?

One thing is certain: reporters for the Dallas times caught Police and
National Guardsmen red handed in this video
http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/photography/2005/katrina_video/straydogs.html
telling the media they were rounding up dogs to be collected by the ASPCA
and other animal groups, when in fact they were caught "exterminating" them
on camera. If the government will lie about that, what else will they lie
about?

The American people deserve to know the truth. The collection of American
bodies should not be farmed out to a Bush political crony, one which he
seemingly helped cover up the "mishandling" of bodies...a felony. SCI's
criminal practice of "mishandling" bodies should preclude it from engaging
in or profiting from the recovery of American bodies anywhere, but
particularly in NOLA...the outcome of the investigation is too important to
leave to a company with such a tainted past, particulary one that is so
incestuously connected to George W Bush, and particularly when the Bush
administration has so much to lose from an accurate body count.

The US media must be allowed to report on a crucial element of one of the
gravest governmental crises in American history. Congress should demand that
Kenyon International be FIRED immediately from any and all recovery efforts
in NOLA, and send an independent oversight group to be present in NOLA and
the surrounding area during the body recovery to insure the American people
are not being duped. These are not hanging chads, these are American
citizens.The present leadership within FEMA and the Bush administrationhave
proven themselves unworthy of American trust.

Following is a list of links detailing some very disturbing allegations of
criminal activity directly involving GW Bush, Joe Allbaugh, and the company
entrusted by the American people to recover the dead abandoned by the Bush
administration after hurricane Katrina...are you listening America?

Please dont just read this info, do something about it!

Contact Congress and the National Media to launch a formal inquiry, help
disseminate this info on the blogs. Its time to bring back accountbility to
our government.

Permission to use this post for any reason is granted Universally without
charge or obligation.

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

http://www.kenyoninternational.com/kenyoninternatio.html

http://maverick.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/8/1269/39920

http://www.newshounds.us/2005/09/08/bush_cohorts_profiteering_at_all_levels.php

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/09/what_is_it_agai.html

http://www.hereinreality.com/funeralgate.htm

http://www.americanpolitics.com/20020304Baker.html

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

UPDATE:

BLACKWATER MERCENARIES DEPLOYED IN NOLA
dangerous coyboys "deputized" to arrest or shoot American citizens in NOLA:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/10/15555/1458

Homeland security says they're not there, but their website says otherwise:

http://www.blackwaterusa.com/btw2005/archive/090505btw.html

Blackwater-Washington Post

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 8, 2005; Page A14

Companies in the Gulf Coast area hit by Hurricane Katrina are turning to an unusual source to protect people and property rendered vulnerable by the storm's damage -- private security contractors that specialize in supporting military operations in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
The mission is to guard against looters, not fend off coordinated insurgent attacks. But the presence of the highly trained specialists represents an unusual domestic assignment for a set of companies that has chiefly developed in global hot spots where war, not nature, has undermined the rule of law.


North Carolina-based Blackwater USA, for example, has 150 security personnel in the Gulf Coast region. The company, which provided personal security for the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority and continues to have a large presence in Iraq, began by donating the services of a helicopter crew to help the Coast Guard with rescue efforts. But it since has added commercial clients that either have buildings in the region, such as hotels, or are sending employees there to help with the reconstruction.

"The calls came flooding in. It's not something that we went down and tried to develop," said Chris Taylor, Blackwater's vice president for strategic initiatives.

ArmorGroup International, a British company, has about 50 employees in the Gulf Coast. Most of the work came from existing clients that wanted security quickly as looters ran rampant through New Orleans last week, according to George Connell, president of the firm's McLean-based North American division.

Although it's not likely to become a major source of business, private-sector firms that specialize in rapid response to dangerous situations probably can have more of a role in a domestic disaster's wake, said Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group.

"I think a lot of people are complaining about how long it took the federal government. But certainly these private companies are always ready to go," he said.

So, anonymous, from the contracts department, are you claiming to know the extent of their NOLA contractual relationships? Again, do tell.

Re Blackwater: The questions are: Why are they allowed in when relief efforts aren't?

Why are they allowed guns when citizens aren't?

Why are citizens who leave the area having their private property, in the form of their firearms confiscated? (which is tangiental, but seems related. I assume Blackwater won't have to give up its guns when the employees leave).

I don't care who's paying them, I want to know why they get special treatment. I also want to know to whom they answer?

Re Kelo : It's a vast increase in the power of the state. Previously eminent domain meant the state bought the property, which was part of the reason for the discounts on the sale; which are so commmon.

Now, the state is allowed to take it, at fire sale prices; after expensive contest to decide value, on behalf of a private enterprise. If that enterprise fails to make the money the state (which I am using as shorthand for "governmental body in question") well, they'd have to find a new reason to take it again.

And nothing prevents the new owner from turning around and selling it.

Eminent domain was problematic before, this is an inviation to abuse, and is (not that the courts agree with me) a legalization of theft.

TK

I am currenlty deployed in the NO area with Blackwater. I am providing security for a private company. I am licensed to carr� in LA. All we have are pump-action or semi-auto weapons. I can only use the same amount of force as any other security guard or private citizen. I am equally acountable for my actions and would face criminal and civil action if I did anything horribly wrong. I am payed a lower hourly rate than a plumber or electrition. I came to help and the people I protect (common working people who live in the area) thank us every day. I am no more a mercenary than any other security guard. we are not evicting people or taking away firearms. Many of you have lost touch with reality. don't let your beliefs blind you.

Thanks for writing. Tell your bosses they should put a NOLA FAQ on their site listing and detailing their NOLA contracts.

Further, they should detail the legal status of their employees and post information on how to complain if Blackwater employees seem to be operatng outside those bounds.

bw1: A question: you say you are "licensed to carry in LA." Are you talking about an ordinary firearms permit?

Or, if that's not what you meant, do you have some special permit on your person showing that you are authorized to bear arms when others are not? If so, by what governmental entity was it issued? City? Stae? Federal? Which agency?

we are authorized as private security guards. That is it. BW should not list their contracts. That would be ridiculous because it would provide too much info for our competitors and would not protect the identities of our employers who not want everyone to know they are using BW because so many people have such wild beliefs about how we operate. There are other reasons as well. I can't provide some of the information you ask for because of security and competitive concerns. If you have a complaint, then call BW or if it is criminal call the police. What would you do if a security guard did something wrong? There is not some crazy conspiracy going on with BW. All of the guys I am here with came to help and we are thanked every day by the common people we deal with.

our employers who not want everyone to know they are using BW because so many people have such wild beliefs about how we operate

But you realize that this same reputation that might cause PR problems is why Blackwater was chosen, yes?

And given your description of the capacity in which you are employed by Blackwater, it is a little hard to believe that you would be in the loop on each an every contract they have in the region.

I am not sure if my last entry made it through. again, I am typing on my phone.

the permit is for operating as a security guard. I can't provide any more info on that because of security and competitive reasons. I probably could tell you but I as an employee am not perfectly comfortable with it. BW will not list its contracts for the same obvious reasons. If you have a complaint act like you would if it was a security guard. There is no big conspiracy. we are here to help and we are all patriots. a few guys might act a little less than professional at times, but we have 150 people on the ground. overall we are highly skilled and professional.

I am not sure if my last entry made it through. again, I am typing on my phone.

the permit is for operating as a security guard. I can't provide any more info on that because of security and competitive reasons. I probably could tell you but I as an employee am not perfectly comfortable with it. BW will not list its contracts for the same obvious reasons. If you have a complaint act like you would if it was a security guard. There is no big conspiracy. we are here to help and we are all patriots. a few guys might act a little less than professional at times, but we have 150 people on the ground. overall we are highly skilled and professional.

Typing on your phone, oh goodness. Your poor fingers.

Thank you. I think the way you put it is a helpful clarification for those encoutering Blackwater employees in NOLA.

Blackwater busy guarding millionaires' homes, per the Guardian.

Kathryn: Democracy Now did a segment from New Orleans today. They say they saw BW employees with badges, who told them they were deputised by the Governor, and that they were allowed to use lethal force.

They said they were patrolling to stop criminal elements, were seen setting up shop on Bourbon Street.

They also complained they were only getting $350 per day, plus per diem and some said they were being paid for with FEMA funds.

Having worked security it is quite possible that there are different BW contracts in New Orleans, and probable that the employees of BW are prohibited (to avoid internal strife) from stating just how much they are getting.

TK

That is my personal take on the situation. That there is more than one contract. That's why I'm on about contracts.

Here go my poor little fingers again. I think I explained that some guys are current law enforcement officers in some capacity and may be displaying their badges for identification puposes.. I don't think anyone has been deputized, but it wouldn't be a crazy idea considering the circumstances. However I did ask about it unofficially and I was told that no one had been deputized. We may have some contracts protecting some federal agencies or organizations. Again it would be no surprise. The whole insistence on authority to shoot to kill is ridiculous. You people need to research use of force law a little bit. We can only use the same amount of force that is legally permissible for a citizen or security guard. We have the use of force information in our possession and have been briefed on it. Deadly force can not be used simply to defend property. If someone was deputized they would still fall under these rules but would be allowed to use force to make misd. arrests and under specific circumstances (ten. v. garner) would be allowed to use deadly force to prevent escape of violent felons. Why can't we get this crazy idea out of our heads. Are we authorized to use deadly force against a deadly force attack on us? Hell yes, but so is everyone else. I think there is some miscommunication going on on both sides of the story. Some BW guys may not have explained the situation in the proper terms, and some people in the media may be twisting words to better fit their agendas.

I am in contact with the guys downtown and we had a good laugh at all of the allegations we have heard. I had a team on speaker phone and we all laughed together for about 20 minutes. All of us have military and/or police background and we are trying to do the right thing. The last thing any of us would do would be to confiscate weapons from joe public.

what is up with the mercenary cliche? I am a us citizen operating on us soil. Is a guard at the bank or grocery store a mercenary. We serve us interests at home or abroad.

Ypu say "some guys are current law enforcement officers." Do you mean that some of the guys working for Blackwater? Or do you just mean other guys in NOLA? I'm confused.

Another thing I'm curious about, though you probably don't know the answer: How come you guys got this job/these jobs not Aegis or Northbridge?

Re Blackwater: When you see some members of the NOLA police looting themselves, and citizens looting for TV's, jewelry, electronics,liquor, guns, etc. etc. then I welcome people like Blackwater showing some control . Nobody else bothered. When I see the rapes, killings, thefts, and how the Superdome and other refugee ares were left with tons of pure garbage that the ones involved didn't have the decency to clean up after themselves, then for a lot of them I completely lose any sympathy I had.

"What would you do if one of these big burly Blackwater guys, with sunglasses and a sub-machine gun, showed up on your doorstep and instructed you to evacuate?"

This is an inaccurate statement. They are carrying semi-automatic rifles, that although look scary, are essentially small caliber varmint rifles. Most hunting rifles are MUCH more powerful (but more PC).

Machine gun means fully automatic - weapons limited to the military and police.

If you are going to make an issue out of weapons that people carry, please be accurate.

Fair enough. But you didn't answer the question.

It is, however, a moot question now, since FEMA is no longer demanding that everone left evacuate.

Back on Sept 1st, I wrote my brother in an email some of my concerns for the ongoing
desparate situation in NO. Although the primary focus of my concern were the failures
of the rescue and relief response, I also voiced a new concern of mine -- namely, as I wrote him, I predicted that "before this thing is over, we will probably see military or military style 'search and sweep ops' conducted to one, root out the criminals who were running amok, and two, to force out persons who did not want to evacuate."

Shortly after writing that email, ARNG troops began to deploy en mass to NO and essentially began doing exactly what I foresaw.

What escaped my imagination back then was the
entry of private security forces such as Blackwater.

What a shame that criminal activity got a much larger and faster response than the suffering of scores of thousands of Katrina victims stranded in NO.

I wrote a post for the comment boards here, but it got really long, so I decided to shorten it.

The full post is up at:

http://dromo.typepad.com/echo_in_the_sense/2005/09/blackwater_secu.html

-nanostep/christine

RE: BLACKWATER

----HOW BIG IS THIS PRIVATE ARMY & WHAT ARE THEY COSTING US? THE GREATER PART OF 15,000 to 20,000 PRIVATE SOLDIERS IN IRAQ.

This site puts the blackwater estimate higher... The greater part of 20,000 to 30,000:

http://blogs.salon.com/0004364/2005/02/04.html


>>>>
There are somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 of these mercenaries in Iraq now.

According to a recently filed lawsuit, Blackwater's profit is 36% in addition to overhead.

Blackwater*** makes $216/day pure profit on each of its "Protective Security Specialists."

We could be talking about $16,000,000 a day for mercenaries, more than six times the cost of a division of regular troops. At those rates, it is no surprise that the ads posted on various websites indicate there are hundreds upon hundreds of takers.
>>>>

AND

This other site at the lower number...
I have not fack checked this page, but am forwarding the link and here�s an excerpt.

http://www.southernstudies.org/reports/newsupdate10b.htm


>>>>
Private security contractors � soldiers of fortune -- in Iraq

� The four American civilians killed in Fallujah on March 31 were employees of Blackwater USA, a NC-based corporation that strives to create the �largest professional, private army.� According to Blackwater, the men were �comprised Blackwater Mobile Security Teams [which] stand ready to be deployed around the world with little notice in support of US national security objectives, private or foreign interests.�

Blackwater salaries currently range from $100,000 to $200,000 annually.

� How many private contracting-soldiers are there in Iraq?

!!!!----->� Approximately 15,000 to 20,000. By comparison, there are 8,000 soldiers from Britain, the US� largest partner, in Iraq.

� Which companies provide these private soldiers?
....Northbridge Services in London, Blackwater in North Carolina, and Dyncorp in Virginia all have contracts from the US government
>>>>

----DO THE MATH FOR NEW ORLEANS

If the daily profit for Blackwater per Blackwater soldier as quoted above from that Salon Magazine blog (referencing a lawsuit) is $215 at 36%...

Then a low estimate is $600 per day per Blackwater soldier... Performing "law enforcement" in New Orleans.

If we try to dollarize this, then it becomes more obscene.

How much food, water and medical supplies or transportation cost would that buy?

They've taken away the $2000 debit card program for these people, but three to four days of a Blackwater soldier is the equivalent of that.

----LASTLY, WHO OWNS BLACKWATER? OR LET'S FOLLOW THE MONEY:

http://blogs.salon.com/0004364/2005/02/04.html

>>>>
***Blackwater is owned by Eric Prince, whose father made millions in the automobile visor business. His sister is married to the head of Amway. The family is reputed to be million dollar donors to the GOP
>>>>

I tried to look for this at the OpenSecrets.org political donor search page, but didn't know what to search for -- so this is unconfirmed.

http://www.opensecrets.org/

Ill try to answer a few more questions. At least I think I have put the licensed to kill fantasy to rest. Some current contractors working for BW are also currently employed in some capacity as police officers (part-time, reserve, etc) and/or national guardsmen. For example, they might be a reserve deputy in bakalaka county but they will work occasionally as a contractor (not law enforcement) for BW. I am still in the National Guard and still involved in law enforcement myself. BW received some of the contracts and others went to other companies like the mercenaries (just kidding) of securitas and wakenhut and a few other high-risk security companies that are more like BW. BW bids on contracts like any other company, but I would imagine that sometimes we are the only ones with the necessary resources available. I believe that we do have some federal contracts in the area, but this is nothing unusual. We are not performing general law enforcement functions and are not kicking people out of their homes or taking their weapons. Several of us have risked our lives performing search and rescue, but that seems to have been forgotten. I would be surprised if BW had over 1000 contractors on the books total. If you have questions I will try to answer them, but please understand that I am in the security business and can't reveal everything. Also, most definitions of mercenary involve waging war for a foreign government. I don't believe that this fits in this situation or the situation in Iraq. I have not worked with anyone who was doing it just for the money, nor would I.

bw*1: Regarding the specific application of the term "mercenary" to any US Citizens in NOLA, regardless of the nature of their employment, you are absolutely right. They are not, by the usual definition of the word, mercenaries.

have any of the blackwater people participated in "STORM" in Croatia?

Not that I know of. I think that was MPRI. Different company.

I did a little more digging and here is what I found out:

There are at least 4 more companies similar to and competing with Blackwater in the area. Pay ranges from 250 to 600/day. Everyone is working at least 12 hour days in bad conditions which means the hourly rate (considering overtime) is not as much as one would think.

I talked to a contractor for another company who said his team was deputized by a local sheriff. They are supporting a private company that is working on a government contract for rebuilding. They are all at least as well trained as a deputy and they are doing work that deputies would probably have to do if they had any to spare, but it is not general law enforcement. I am still not aware of anyone doing that. He implied that the deputization was easier than acquiring all of the other permits for weapons carry as a security guard.

There are some guys downtown who are responsible for multiple homes in a small area. As part of their security plan, they are "patrolling" (I hate to use that word in this context) from one residence to the next and checking the surrounding area without engaging in general law enforcement activities.

I am aware of one contractor who acted out of bounds and became involved in something more like general law enforcement, and he was pulled from the field and fired immediately. There was no force used and his actions were not crazy- just a little outside of the scope of his duties.

I am still not aware of any contractors kicking people out of their homes or taking their guns. In fact everyone I talk to laughs when I bring it up. One would think that contractors in the armed security field would be much more pro second adm. than the general population.

No one with BW has had to shoot anyone, but there have probably been a few incidents with vicious dogs. We are also very dog friendly and I have never talked to a contractor who was happy about shooting a dog.

The people around us thank us and go out of the way to make our stay more pleasant.

bw1*: Thanks for your research. I think we begin to converge on a consensus reality.

I do not doubt that people thank you and are grateful. I have found that the people of New Orleans write really great thank you notes, myself. And I'm in New York. While on the one hand I do believe that Blackwater was retained partly for its scary reputation, on the other hand, there is lots of routing around FEMA and other governmental organizations that was necessary.

Also, do not think that I underestimate the personal emotional costs to being there.

There is certainly a need to maintain order
and a safe environment, especially in the
chaos of New Orleans.


It is within the rights of anyone or any company to engage the services of private security firms.


It is fair and necessary to
scrutinize the acitivities of security forces whatever their nature, and I assume as professionals they welcome the scrutiny.


Most people recognize the hardships
of security work in post-Katrina NO, and
also recognize the good done in conducting and supporting search and rescue ops.


The situations rising out of Katrina's strike on the gulf coast and the aftermath present a logistics nightmare.


In this chaos of conflicted command and flawed communication, failures in planning and execution are many.


There are many issues which present a need for scrutiny.


Agendas are one of these issues, and how
and to what end private security services are engaged definitely present the issue
of agendas.


How private and military security
services behave and to what end also present
issues for scrutiny, as do the agendas of those who engage their services.

Most of all -- for me -- how forces arrived en mass to deal with security issues instead of days earlier to deal with the human crises remains one of the most consternating, frustrating and mindboggling issues of all!


Four days of suffering, then criminal activities (looting, murders, rapes)
grab the headlines, and -- voila! --
we get boots on the ground.


Adding to my consternation are the many troubling accounts of security forces acting in ways that seem to indicate agendas more about private interests than about personal safety.


I don't expect anything to go smoothly in the aftermath, and I'm sure there have been and will be acts of highly questionable natures or agendas.


That, unfortunately, has been the way it's
been since Katrina struck.


There is a certain amount of order that has been lost in New Orleans that people seem to have lost site of. The fact that there are dead bodies that have been found in the street headless sort of puts a different light on the situation. Certain things need to be done in conjuction with the Katrina relief. Security has to be provided for one and the fact that 200 police officers just abandoned their responsibility to their city, after making sure their family was safe, by staying away and not checking in with their precinct leaves a pretty serious hole in that security that needs to be filled by someone. Blackwater has former active duty military and some still on reserve in its ranks, police officers and former federal operators. I'm sure they are professionals and will provide the right kind of help at the right time.

Marine: I take your point as to why soemone needed to be there when police were walking off the job. But private contractors are the wrong answer, because it is legal for them to walk off the job, too. (Note, please that I mean any private security contractors. This remark is not addressed to the specific character of the Blackwater employees.) If the situation is bad enough that cops walk off the job, you want people there who can be courtmartialled if they desert. This is just as true in Iraq as in NOLA, and it is one reason I oppose the use of private contractors in both places: because when you really need them, they can quit.

Kathryn wants people who police New Orleans to be courtmartialed if they quit, as in Iraq. Now I think we all can see where Kathryn stands on social issues and human/individual rights.

The hundreds of police officers who quit in New Orleans are being held in Las Vegas to "cool down." Would anyone like to explain why they were all shipped to Las Vegas? One officer had made a report of an explosion in a levee, and he later is claimed to have committed suicide. It would make sense why all the officers quit, and were deported to the desert, if they are witnesses in some fashion to the intentional destruction of the levees.

It's important to be concerned about how relief operations are conducted in New Orleans, but to demand courtmartials and similar types of military enforcement to ensure that people don't quit is absurd to the point of lost rationality, especially given the suspicious nature of the disaster in New Orleans.

Dennis:
I think you misunderstand. You do not solve the problem of public employees walking off the job by hiring private employees. You use public employees who can't walk off the job.

I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth,
but if I understand, then what Kathryn is
saying is the Guard should be filling the need insofar as maintaining public safety
in lieu of an adequate local or state police
presence, and further that as members of the ARNG they are subject to exzctly the same rules and regulations as Army troops, because
they are Army troops. Therefore, Guard troops can't quit their posts unless they want to be arrested, courtmartialled and probably DD'ed out or even sentenced to time in the stockade and then DD'ed out.

Even if that's not what Kathryn is saying, it
sure as shit is exactly what I'm saying.

That explanation work for you? Hope so, because that's all there is to that, and furthermore, anyone who thinks that what she said has anything in the world to do with Iraq must be tripping.

I was speaking more generally.

Also, I forgot to mention something important. Security of whatever stripe in New Orleans cannot play by Bagdad rules, since in Bagdad Bremmer specifically exempted them from local laws and from the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. Futher, Bagdad rules didn't seem to have much in the way of procedures for reigning in anyone who was neither a local nor in some kind of governemnt heirarchy employed in a security capacity.

The fellow from Blackwater in this comment section has gone to some lengths to debunk the idea that Blackwater employees were deputized in quantity. If they were not deputized, then they have no special legal status and CANNOT replace the NOLA police no matter whether one thinks they ought to or not.

You people have no idea what those men go through that are working for Blackwater. They have to put up with idiots like you for months, while having to be away from their families. They should be paid double what they are.

Jamie: Do you have some inside information you'd like to share?

My husband is working for Blackwater right now in Louisiana, and they have been sleeping on cots, eating out of a can, working 12 hours+ a day, while having to deal with thousands of angry people trying to get assistance. The first few nights they were there, they slept outside, with nothing to eat and no way to shower. It is very hot there especially in all the equipment they must wear. We just had a baby girl 4 months ago, and her daddy has missed a month of her life already just for you people to bad mouth them. And the pay is not as good as you may think.

My brother ( biological) is with Black Water, his friends died in the bridge murders in Iraq. Please don't make heros out of blackwater employees, they are paid assassasins and don't deserve any pay plus they are in violatioms of our constitution in even being there ( posse commitus).

Kathryn, It must be a lot easier to sound so insightful and smart when you delete the posts of those who strongly oppose your points of view.

How are they paid assassins when the majority of their work is protection?

You were rude so you got deleted. Be civil or get lost. Those are my rules.

a reminder to any and all..Private contracters take no oath to uphold our constitution, a constitution fought for by so many. I am amazed that so few can recognize this as yet another step by the current administration to weaken the fiber this country was made of. What they are in this posters opinion, are brownshirts and now with the avian flu epidemic, Bush is contemplating yet another use for them. Coffee time folks before it is too late. They protect big business that is who they protect. Halliburton in this case. Sugar coating it, doesn't change a thing.

a mercenary is any person who:
Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
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 rank and functions in the armed forces of that party...
A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:
Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at
Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;
Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation...
QUESTION: Is it our govenment they are overthrowing? I am seriously wondering at this point

Now that that is all over and done with, will someone from Blackwater please come clean and give me a straight answer: Did Blackwater have contracts with FEMA or not? Looking down this thread, I note that no one except "anonymous" gave me a straight answer on that precise point.

Blackwater is contracted through FEMA. It's a blatant note that the author of this site did not show any proof of interviewing any Blackwater employees. And I just got a hot meal from the Red Cross 2 days ago, so throw out that extreme bullshit about the Red Cross not being allowed here (LA/New Orleans). I also work for the Red Cross, so I know what I'm talking about. Once again, you internet morons who post sites like this, portray hype as the truth that no one else knows, -take a real course in advanced journalism before you post total garbage like this website. The locals around here laud praise to Blackwater and federal police for protecting their city from the NOPD. And they're not looking forward to the real police and security protection leaving and having to kowtow to the NOPD and the criminal element again. I saw a couple of people drive up and THANK the Blackwater guys for doing such a great professional job at protecting a local DRC. I see locals act with good and friendly attitudes towards them on a daily basis. -Not bad for a bunch of "oh-so-spooky merc's"?!
I DARE you to run one on the New Orleans Police Department. I saw four NOPD drinking for over 2 hours on Bourbon Street in uniform and playing 'grab-ass' with the waitresses, and THEN get back into their patrol cars. Or how about the NOPD that took a joint from a criminal and smoked it beside his patrol car (witnessed by others)?! And Blackwater? They do their long shifts and go back to their hotels/cots/etc. and mind their own business, and not ONE report of any Blackwater folks with any negative engagements with the public. Hey, do YOU have live footage of Blackwater personnel rescuing New Orleans residents from their homes/rooftops/bridges? I do. But you wouldn't want to see it, because it's the truth and you might run the risk of looking ignorant, oops!
The NOPD? They steal, murder and are the most corrupt police department in the USA. Over 60 just got fired for deriliction of duty. Let's see you get rolling on that report. Or isn't it juicy enough?

At the time of the initial post, no one would admit that Blackwater had contracts with FEMA. You did notice the date on the initial post didn't you?

Do I need to show "proof" of interviewing BW employees when at least one person in the comment section claims to be one and I interviewed him, as it were, on camera?

In what capacity do you do disaster relief? You wouldn't work for Blackwater, would you?

I would be proud to work for their outfit, they're one of the best in the world. They have an excellent reputation and are well respected by federal law enforcement.
I have worked for multiple disaster agencies, such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and city, state, and county offices.
From all of the websites featuring Blackwater commentary, it is negative, superficially slanted, and biased with a hyperactive, knee-jerk response from people who have never served in the military, law enforcement, or security detail. I see the good work they do every day, and it pains me to not see the overwhelmingly positive work they've contributed towards protecting houses, businesses, commercial/state/city/federal property, and saved many lives right after the hurricane. I have seen and own live footage of them patrolling in boats looking for survivors, from people to animals. They sacrificed their lives overseas in combat by serving in our armed forces, and many of them are active law enforcement, who have one the most thankless professions on this earth. A fraction of them are bonafied special ops, most are former military, but are now hold down law enforcement careers. To spend so much time focusing on a few renegade nitwits and not on the 99 percentile, is atypical sensationalism that is indicative of national thinking: only the negative unknown is lauded extreme attention, with total disregard for positive accomplishment. And with this point, you have failed to deliver the entire picture, albiet with your apparent, omnipitent interview. And still, I challenge you to do some real 'gonzo' work, go after the NOPD, -the real criminals.

What I wrote about the NOPD, somewhere in all this, was not flattering ad involved looting as I recall. But why, given the scrutiny they're already getting, would a bit of extra attention from a Pleasantville housewife anthologist make a difference?

I don't disagree with your general assessment of them, but I don't see what good it would do to join the chorus.

..Had you done your homework on Blackwater, you wouldn't be so quick to call the contractors thugs. Better yet, try applying for a position with Blackwater and see how in depth the background/criminal investigation is. The average joe couldn't begin to get on board with these groups. Not only do they need nerve but,You need years of military or law enforcement experience and special operations training to qualify for even the mildest of jobs. Blackwater personnel are there as you say "pulling down the salaries" because they have the training in both law enforcement and military tactics, to do the job the average civilian either won't, can't, or is just aftraid to do. As for the other contrators, maybe they wouldn't all have to be there either if some of the folks who are just sitting around with their hands outstretched waiting for the govenment to take care of them would get up and lend a hand. At least then, when the Federal Govt. gives them a new and better home and funishings, they can feel that they had contributed to it in some way. Not to say they are all just sitting around, but a large percentage of these unfortunate people are doing just that. Why don't you just come out and say that you just have a problem with Blackwater, the other contractors like them, and the real men who make up these organizations. Keep in mind, that these same "thugs" will be there to protect you from harm should you ever get near enough to a situation that puts you in a danger zone.

Regarding your last point, wouldn't that depend on the nature of the contract and how they squared whatever I was doing with the interests of their employer and the specifics of their contract?

Generally the contractor, like law enforcement and other security personel, are contracted to protect the lives and or property of the employer. If it involves personal protection details, then it is just that, the personal protection of the client. The personel and property etc. being of a corportation, individual, or in some cases, state and federal government. Sometimes it may be the Department of Defence. But, the main thing is, these guys are not as some think, a bunch of cowboys. The first thing that tops the list of what they are, is disaplined. Something that is severly lacking in todays society and the mentality of the baby boomer generation and worse, their children. This is not to say, that some butt head didn't slip through the cracks and manage to get on board and get some bad press. But the majority of these guys have already put it on the line for this country more than once before going to work as a contractor. A lot of them are actually trying to get together a retirement fund as niether the military or law enforcement are the highest paying jobs going. Given the risk factors it's really sad how low the pay is. SO now they are taking the risk again going overseas, or to the Gulf, leaving their familys for an average of 1year at a time, to do a job no one wants to do. Let them make the money, they're taking all the risks and payed the dues so you don't have to.

I remain really annoyed that no one wanted to admit to FEMA contracts and let me make up my own mind about what that meant.

Also, whether you accept the characterization of cowboy or not, Blackwater certainly has a reputation for Attitude. And I'll choose my own adjectives for how to characterize that attiude, thank you.

Ok, I can see where this isn't going. SO I'll sum up a few things before I move on for the night. Fist off, maybe you didn't get the gist of what the Contractor tryed to get through to you about why details such as who the contract clients are, as well as the pay rate are not mentioned or broadcast to the general public. Remember, competition,security and so on. As for the reputation of being cowboys, this is something that silly people who live in the comfort zone of the ordinary and to often politically correct la la land,call anyone who has the,shall we say...grit, to do what they do to keep you living the way you're used to. Many mild people call SWAT guys and homicide detectives cowboys too. How about the cowboy cop who stops the guy trying to hold up your favorite gas station or happens up on some punk trying to carjack you. All these men and woman are just cowboys to those people who seem to think the badguys of the world will follow the staight line with a hug and a well placed praise,You know...like the children are now days.

In the same batch of email as your current note, I got an honest to God testimonial for Viktor Bout. Is there anyone in the PMC world, I mean anyone, for whom no one ever gives a testimonial?

looking for a house in or around new boston michiagin that is reparable or vacant

I think that we should have privte army's and I think the problem over in iraq should not have been made for everyone to see because war is hell sometimes shit happens but life goes on. In ten years who is going to remeber that one little thing. I am priare service army and I think we should have all the help we can get. Hell I want to join black water and do the job.

Hi, Ill leave my name blank. So you think its funny to talk shit about blackwater. How much security do you have on your website. Do you realize what I can do with an IP, let alone an M9. Im not threatening or anything. Well i suggest you have some backup websites. Oh and hire a contrac....oh thats right they are all thugs. Hmm well you are done. Anyways I sure you will delete this. Women, go in the kitchen and make me a pie.

Spyder: Not threatening, huh? Yeah, right. You can make my fvcking day.

Why don't you take that cocktail wiener of yours and go play with it someplace safe like the department store changing rooms?

The dictionary defines mercenary as "a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army" because there is no historical precedent for a professional soldier to be hired by his own government.

Now there is, and I'm sure a definition will be added like this one: "a professional soldier hired to work for his government outside of the regular military, and not bound to the same laws and restrictions as the regular military."

OK, I while I don't claim any great insight into the NO events or blackwater, like everyone else I have opinions :-)

I looked at the blackwater sight and poked around. You might want to check here at thier online application form;
https://secure.blackwaterusa.com/

If you scroll through it you quickly see that the requirements for employment seem pretty serious. I have no way to know what thier standards really are, but it seems like they are pretty well qualified to me.

No basket is completely free of bad apples. I am sure [some] BW personally are arrogant militant types with a bad attitude...just like some cops are, and some taxi drivers, and some painters, and mechanics...you get the point. Take a large group of anybody and you will have some who are ripe for generating bad press.

As for pay, with the median income at $26,000/person (http://www.cbpp.org/8-29-06pov.htm), thats roughly $100/day. I live in Houston, which has a very low cost of living and HPD starting pay is around $36,000 I believe, which would be ~$140/day. Assuming we can take as fact the posted pay of $250-$600/day, that comes out to roughly $64K-153K per year. While good money, I dont know that it's all that exceptional given the risks and hardships. Personally I wouldn't do the job for that pay. If you would, I suggest you sign up...but really would you? would you leave your families for extended periods and camp out in some very unpleasant environements for $100,000 a year? would you really be willing to be shot at for that? In most cases the honest answer is no.

As for when private security is appropriate...if you are a private company, and want to make SURE you property/people are protected, you have no choice, the govt is not going to make your manufacturing facility thier top priority, period. IF you want to garauntee that it is protected you have to pay someone to do it. This is a legitimate role for private security. Do they need to be monitored to ensure there is no abuse? sure, so does the police and military...everyone needs checks and balances, no one is immune. But that doesn't make all BW employees (or similar companies) bad people, or somehow morally wrong for trying to earn a living. They are being paid for in case an armed response is needed exactly like the security guard at the bank. Granted, they are a lot more qualified than the security guard, and they are probably at a lot higher risk, but then thats why they get paid more.

As for the thinly veiled threat about the security of your website, that was tacky and the person to made is obviously not a professional at whatever he does.

And no, I have no affiliations with BW, or any other security firm, I work in IT for a fortune 500 company doing network security.

Regarding Iraq:
Don't let a couple bad employee's give BW a bad name. We're the most professional group in Iraq. And there are ideiots who work for BW who aren't "security" but a bunch of want-a-be's. The actual PSD (personal security) contractors are very professional.
And I do it for the oppressed people of Iraq, not he money. Somebody has to stand up to these modern day nazies.(i.e...Islam extreamist) We're protecting the people (VIP's and ambasidors) who halp give these people the rights and freedoms they've never had.
Plus, I'm sure if you asked the military now, they wouldn't claim that BW contractors are a bunch of "cowboys". That's in the past. We pride ourselves on profesionalism now.

Former Armay Special Forces and now BW contractor.

�And how much is Blackwater being paid to prance around with guns while firefighters who came for free are used as props for political photo ops?�

�Why is Blackwater in New Orleans to do work that many others have volunteered to do for free? Two words: Eminent Domain. Think about it.�


In response to the previous statements I would suggest you read the following quote which can be found at the link after it:

Kathleen Young runs the Chateau Le-Moyne, a French Quarter hotel. She thinks Blackwater�s mere presence stops trouble in its tracks. Young�s hotel chain hired the company the day after Katrina.

�I didn�t know that,� she says, �and I was scared to death coming back into the Quarter after the storm. Looters were everywhere. Windows were smashed out. There were no police.

�And then I got here, and there were two Blackwater guys camped out in my lobby. Nothing was touched. They stayed with me for weeks, and I never saw anyone challenge them.�

Young was so impressed, she struck a deal with Blackwater to house more of its men. At one point, contractors occupied nearly half of her 171-room hotel. The number has dwindled, but her lobby, at any given time, is still full of men carrying guns.

Young has also put Blackwater on retainer.

�If something like this ever happens again,� she says, �I want them in here before the storm.�
http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=108187&ran=247918


I would also suggest you read the entire article as it pertains somewhat to the company you describe in your commentary, this link will take you to the first page:
http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=107946&ran=29743


Aside from the information above I would like to say that everyone has an opinion. I habitually decline to share mine, as it is my belief that most opinions serve no purpose except to make their owner feel somehow better about themselves by degrading or insulting others.

Now on to contradicting myself, I feel sure that if given the chance every single citizen of the USA would chose to run the country differently, basing their ideas upon their own opinions 
(or possibly upon what they have �learned� from different media outlets). Instead of living in such a muddled dream world I find it better to do what I can with what I have: A soul 
(spiritual not religious), a brain, and my own two hands.

Thank you for this informative website! First and foremost I would like to know the linkage between Corporate America and these highly paid "Soldiers of Fortune" masquarading as Defenders of Democracy? Unfortunately these mercenaries have been were the fighting is since the earliest invasions protecting the interests of the wealthy.
How much do they help and how much do they interfere in the actual military objectives.
They sure as hell didn't help much in my war when I served in Vietnam 1968-1971?
Someone please advise me.
They will be more and more on our radar as our Home Guard gets depleted by our over extension in Iraq.

Bob Swafford

Gary Bauer data- Arlington group, FRC, Blackwater + Moonie contributor

Top Ten Most Censored News Stories of 2006-2007

Ties between southern Christian fundamentalists

Pmcs - 9/11 Encyclopedia

100,000 Contractors in Iraq not included in Military counts

Blackwater USA New Orleans hurricane katrina

HURRICANE KATRINA Kathryn Cramer New Orleans Levee's and FEMA

911review.org  Homepage


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