The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill describes the rise of Blackwater USA, the world’s most powerful mercenary army.
Jeremy Scahill reports on the Bush Administration’s growing dependence on private security forces such as Blackwater USA and efforts in Congress to rein them in. This article is adapted from his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books).
On September 10, 2001, before most Americans had heard of Al Qaeda or imagined the possibility of a “war on terror,” Donald Rumsfeld stepped to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush. Standing before the former corporate executives he had tapped as his top deputies overseeing the high-stakes business of military contracting–many of them from firms like Enron, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation–Rumsfeld issued a declaration of war.
“The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America,” Rumsfeld thundered. “It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.” He told his new staff, “You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world…. [But] the adversary’s closer to home,” he said. “It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.” Rumsfeld called for a wholesale shift in the running of the Pentagon, supplanting the old DoD bureaucracy with a new model, one based on the private sector. Announcing this major overhaul, Rumsfeld told his audience, “I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”
The next morning, the Pentagon would be attacked, literally, as a Boeing 757–American Airlines Flight 77–smashed into its western wall. Rumsfeld would famously assist rescue workers in pulling bodies from the rubble. But it didn’t take long for Rumsfeld to seize the almost unthinkable opportunity presented by 9/11 to put his personal war–laid out just a day before–on the fast track. The new Pentagon policy would emphasize covert actions, sophisticated weapons systems and greater reliance on private contractors. It became known as the Rumsfeld Doctrine. “We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach: one that encourages people to be proactive, not reactive, and to behave less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists,” Rumsfeld wrote in the summer of 2002 in an article for Foreign Affairs titled “Transforming the Military.”
Mercenary Trophy Videos
There have been hundreds of accounts of personnel from private military and security firms committing abuses in Iraq. These videos demonstrate how the mercenaries from Aegis, a UK based security firm and Blackwater, a US based private military contractor go about their ‘work’.
The few, the proud, the Blackwater
‘Iraq for Sale’ bonus scene: Blackwater
Inside America’s private army with extended bonus scenes from Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”
Blackwater security shot Iraqi man
Lawyers for Blackwater, the private security company, today publicly acknowledged that one of their security guards shot dead an Iraqi man whom he worked with. The admission by Blackwater confirms worries that armed contractors working directly or indirectly for the U.S. government have been involved in killing Iraqi civilians and that they have escaped the rule of law in Iraq or in the United States.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army
Blackwater Contractor Kills Vice President’s Guard
There have been rumors buzzing around the contractor community about murder. It started when a Blackwater employee drunk and fresh from a Christmas party in the Green Zone got into an argument with an Iraqi security contractor. The Iraqi worked for the Vice President as a security guard. It is not cleared what transpired but the Blackwater employee emptied the entire magazine of his pistol into the Iraqi. Under normal circumstances the contractor would have been arrested (the Green Zone is in effect a U.S. base) under the Patriot Act, MEJA, the military code or Iraqi law but he wasn’t. He was dealt with just like any other contractor who commits a crime in Iraq. He was bundled into an aircraft, returned to the US and dropped from the payroll. According to Blackwater’s lawyer, he was “off duty” returned to the US and is being “investigated” by the FBI.
It turns out that Blackwater is sparing no expense to defend its right to be above the law. They claim that they don’t need to obey the military code of conduct because they are a private firm. They also claim that they shouldn’t be prosecuted in a criminal court, because they deal with military secrets that could put our troops in jeopardy. They also claim that they can not be prosecuted for any of the actions that they have taken in Iraq under the Iraqi courts, because they are Americans. In fact they seem to have an excuse for almost every possible way they that they could be held accountable for their crimes. Crimes!? Yes, Crimes. There are many reports in Iraq detailing the antics of the “Blackwater Guys.” They see themselves as above the law. They have reportedly shot at people first, then ask the questions later. Is this the way that America should be building relations with the Iraqis, or others in the Middle East.
Blackwater Mercenaries: Coming Soon to Your Town
Did an American fire on Iraqis unprovoked?
U.S. security contractors allege their supervisor was ‘out of control’