Erik Prince Blackwater/Xe = suspect in genocide/child sex slavery/narcotics ring

Author Topic: Erik Prince Blackwater/Xe = suspect in genocide/child sex slavery/narcotics ring  (Read 39494 times)

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Offline Dig

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Re: Erik Prince, Founder of Blackwater is a suspect in multiple murders
« Reply #40 on: August 21, 2009, 08:50:00 AM »
C.I.A. Uses Blackwater To Put Bombs On Drones Aimed At Al-Qaeda Leaders
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/20/cia-uses-blackwater-to-pu_n_264748.html
WASHINGTON - From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington's most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda's leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: Erik Prince, Founder of Blackwater is a suspect in multiple murders
« Reply #41 on: August 21, 2009, 08:52:59 AM »
Continued in NYTimes (from Sane's post above)...

The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said.

The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq.

A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment for this article.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the agency hired Blackwater in 2004 as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top Qaeda operatives.

In interviews on Thursday, current and former government officials provided new details about Blackwater’s association with the assassination program, which began in 2004 not long after Porter J. Goss took over at the C.I.A. The officials said that the spy agency did not dispatch the Blackwater executives with a “license to kill.” Instead, it ordered the contractors to begin collecting information on the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leaders, carry out surveillance and train for possible missions.

“The actual pulling of a trigger in some ways is the easiest part, and the part that requires the least expertise,” said one government official familiar with the canceled C.I.A. program. “It’s everything that leads up to it that’s the meat of the issue.”

Any operation to capture or kill militants would have had to have been approved by the C.I.A. director and presented to the White House before it was carried out, the officials said. The agency’s current director, Leon E. Panetta, canceled the program and notified Congress of its existence in an emergency meeting in June.

The extent of Blackwater’s business dealings with the C.I.A. has largely been hidden, but its public contract with the State Department to provide private security to American diplomats in Iraq has generated intense scrutiny and controversy.

The company lost the job in Iraq this year, after Blackwater guards were involved in shootings in 2007 that left 17 Iraqis dead. It still has other, less prominent State Department work.

Five former Blackwater guards have been indicted in federal court on charges related to the 2007 episode.

A spokeswoman for Xe did not respond to a request for comment.

For its intelligence work, the company’s sprawling headquarters in North Carolina has a special division, known as Blackwater Select. The company’s first major arrangement with the C.I.A. was signed in 2002, with a contract to provide security for the agency’s new station in Kabul, Afghanistan. Blackwater employees assigned to the Predator bases receive training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to learn how to load Hellfire missiles and laser-guided smart bombs on the drones, according to current and former employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of upsetting the company.

The C.I.A. has for several years operated Predator drones out of a remote base in Shamsi, Pakistan, but has secretly added a second site at an air base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, several current and former government and company officials said. The existence of the Predator base in Jalalabad has not previously been reported.

Officials said the C.I.A. now conducted most of its Predator missile and bomb strikes on targets in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region from the Jalalabad base, with drones landing or taking off almost hourly. The base in Pakistan is still in use. But officials said that the United States decided to open the Afghanistan operation in part because of the possibility that the Pakistani government, facing growing anti-American sentiment at home, might force the C.I.A. to close the one in Pakistan.

Blackwater is not involved in selecting targets or actual strikes. The targets are selected by the C.I.A., and employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., pull the trigger remotely. Only a handful of the agency’s employees actually work at the Predator bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current and former employees said.

They said that Blackwater’s direct role in these operations had sometimes led to disputes with the C.I.A. Sometimes when a Predator misses a target, agency employees accuse Blackwater of poor bomb assembly, they said. In one instance last year recounted by the employees, a 500-pound bomb dropped off a Predator before it hit the target, leading to a frantic search for the unexploded bomb in the remote Afghan-Pakistani border region. It was eventually found about 100 yards from the original target.

The role of contractors in intelligence work expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, as spy agencies were forced to fill gaps created when their work forces were reduced during the 1990s, after the end of the cold war.

More than a quarter of the intelligence community’s current work force is made up of contractors, carrying out missions like intelligence collection and analysis and, until recently, interrogation of terrorist suspects.

“There are skills we don’t have in government that we may have an immediate requirement for,” Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who ran the C.I.A. from 2006 until early this year, said during a panel discussion on Thursday on the privatization of intelligence.

General Hayden, who succeeded Mr. Goss at the agency, acknowledged that the C.I.A. program continued under his watch, though it was not a priority. He said the program was never prominent during his time at the C.I.A., which was one reason he did not believe that he had to notify Congress. He said it did not involve outside contractors by the time he came in.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who presides over the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the agency should have notified Congress in any event. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.”

Mark Landler contributed reporting.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Dig

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Re: Erik Prince, Founder of Blackwater is a suspect in multiple murders
« Reply #42 on: August 21, 2009, 08:55:00 AM »
^ Thanks! I could not get the full version.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: Erik Prince, Founder of Blackwater is a suspect in multiple murders
« Reply #43 on: August 21, 2009, 09:02:16 AM »
Oh where to begin with this big pile of stinking poop....


Continued in NYTimes (from Sane's post above)...
 

“The actual pulling of a trigger in some ways is the easiest part, and the part that requires the least expertise,” said one government official familiar with the canceled C.I.A. program. “It’s everything that leads up to it that’s the meat of the issue.”


That's right. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Quote

A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment for this article.

A spokeswoman for Xe did not respond to a request for comment.


That speaks for itself. Hope, Change, Transparency. Assassinations, murder, steroid-fueled psychos working on our tax dollars.

Quote

Blackwater is not involved in selecting targets or actual strikes. The targets are selected by the C.I.A., and employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., pull the trigger remotely. Only a handful of the agency’s employees actually work at the Predator bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current and former employees said.


Right. They were paid big bucks to sit and watch. Either the govt is lying (really? possible?),or they're idiots. (Both can be true).

Quote

“There are skills we don’t have in government that we may have an immediate requirement for,” Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who ran the C.I.A. from 2006 until early this year, said during a panel discussion on Thursday on the privatization of intelligence.


Really? They don't choose targets, they don't 'hit' targets... and we don't have the skills in our military?
I have a nice bridge in Florida you may be interested in...



And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Dig

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Analysis: Blackwater has longstanding ties to CIA
Story Highlights
Relationship between Blackwater and CIA goes back almost a decade
Recent allegation says contractor was part of CIA program to kill al Qaeda operatives
Blackwater was given contract to protect CIA facilities in Afghanistan after 9/11 attacks
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/20/blackwater.cia.ties/
By Suzanne Simons CNN

Suzanne Simons is an executive producer at CNN as well as author of the book "Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War" (Collins, June 2009).


(CNN) -- The private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater has held classified contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency for nearly a decade, but an allegation that the contractor was part of a secret CIA program to kill al Qaeda operatives -- if true -- would take the relationship to a whole new level.

The CIA hired the private security firm Blackwater USA in 2004 to work on a covert program aimed at targeting and potentially killing top al Qaeda leaders, a source familiar with the program told CNN.

Former company executives deny knowing about the program. Current leaders of the company did not return calls to CNN. The CIA won't comment on classified contracts.

The classified program, canceled by CIA director Leon Panetta earlier this year, was part of a broader effort inside the CIA to develop the capacity to conduct training, surveillance and possible covert operations overseas, according to the source. The program was outsourced to contractors to "put some distance" between the effort and the U.S. government.

Other contractors were brought in for other parts of the program, another source said, and Blackwater's involvement ended by mid-2006.

But one thing is clear: The company that renamed itself Xe earlier this year in an effort to escape controversy surrounding a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead has had a long relationship with the world's most famous spy agency.

When Erik Prince first opened his Blackwater training facility in the late '90s, his clients included special forces teams and law enforcement agencies from around the country. Prince had expressed frustration with the training facilities he visited during his time as a Navy SEAL, and a sizable inheritance allowed him the financial freedom to retire from the military and try his hand at creating a better facility.

His first clients were indeed SEAL teams. But they also included teams from other government agencies, including the CIA. Case officers and protection details, the people generally accustomed to working in the shadows, began showing up for training on the shooting range or the driving track in a rural part of North Carolina.

When then-CIA Executive Director Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, whose own son was a Navy SEAL, visited the facility, former Blackwater President Gary Jackson suggested he meet with Prince, who worked out of an office in the Washington area. The two had lunch and Krongard immediately took a liking to the man who would later lead the world's most notorious private contracting company.

At the time, contacts like these were essential to building the business, so when terror struck the heart of America in September 2001, Prince called up his new friend Krongard and offered to help. Sources inside the agency at the time say that Krongard in fact, was pushing hard for Blackwater to be given the first urgent and compelling, no-bid contract to protect CIA facilities in Afghanistan. The military, it seems, wasn't up to the task of staffing such an effort.

Once awarded the initial contract, Prince maintained a close relationship with Krongard, and made trips to Afghanistan to make sure things were going smoothly.

The idea that the agency came to Blackwater for help on any other contracts, including one with the overall goal of locating and assassinating al Qaeda operatives, wouldn't come as a huge surprise, particularly since so much of the intelligence budget is spent on private contractors.
But with investigations under way into just what was done and by whom at the CIA under the Bush administration, people are remaining tight-lipped. Especially under the threat of possible prosecution, should it go that far.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Dig

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Blackwater still working for CIA
http://www.capitolhillblue.com/node/19223
August 21, 2009 - 5:13am.


Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince: The most dangerous man in America? (AP Photo)

Xe, the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater, continues to work for the U.S. government, carrying out counterterrorism operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports the controversial firm founded by an ardest "anti-Muslim" fanatic with strong ties to the Republican Party and the Bush Administration remains a large government contractor even after the State Department publicly severed ties with the company after its operatives murdered Iraqi civilians.

Former Blackwater mercenaries recently implicated company founder Erik Prince in murder plots against those who publicly reveal the firm's secrets.

Reports the Times:

From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington’s most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda’s leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees.

The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said.

The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Dig

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Iraq, Afghanistan still Blackwater playground
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=103889&sectionid=3510203
Tue, 18 Aug 2009 18:21:51 GMT


The notorious US-based 'Blackwater' guards continue armed operations in Iraq, under a different name, delivering security for US subjects and facilities.

A State Department official told The Nation that Blackwater, renamed 'Xe Services,' is currently operating in Iraq under the name of “US Training Center” and will continue its armed presence there “at least until September.”

Blackwater was ordered out of Iraq shortly after its heavily armed operatives killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad nearly two years ago.

"Authorized personnel under that task order are permitted to continue carrying weapons until that time," said a State Department diplomatic security official who spoke on the condition anonymity, according to the leftist weekly magazine published in the US.

"The purpose and mission of the Department of State's private security contractors is limited to protection of US diplomats and diplomatic facilities only and is defensive in nature," he added.

Referring to the latter point of the US official, The Nation notes that such a claim comes as little comfort to Iraqis since Blackwater guards who murdered Iraqi civilians on September 16, 2007, were operating under the same description of “defensive in nature”.

The State Department's confirmation of Blackwater's continued armed presence in Iraq, according to the prominent magazine, comes one week after a former Blackwater employee alleged in a sworn statement that the company's owner, Erik Prince, views his company's role as fighting a Christian crusade to "eliminate" Muslims and Islam globally, alleging that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

Additionally, Blackwater maintains a “substantial presence” in Afghanistan as well. There, it also operates under the banner of US Training Center on a diplomatic security contract for the State Department's Worldwide Personal Protection Program.

It also works for the Department of Defense under the banner of Paravant LLC, another Prince-owned company, the report adds. Four Paravant operatives are under investigation by the US military over the shooting, which led to the deaths of two Afghan civilians in May.

Blackwater is bidding on more contracts in Afghanistan, which, according to The Nation, “is increasingly becoming the new gold mine for the war industry.”

The report also adds that nearly 70,000 contractors are now deployed in Afghanistan on the US government payroll, meaning there are now more contractors than US soldiers (48,000) in Afghanistan.

In addition to those hired by the State Department, the US Department of Defense has about 4,300 security contractors in Afghanistan, and these numbers are steadily increasing.

“In the second quarter of 2009,” the report notes, “the Obama administration increased the number of armed private contractors in Afghanistan by 29 percent.”

The magazine also reveals that on August 6, the US House Representative Jan Schakowsky wrote letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates citing Blackwater's "history of abuse" and called on Clinton and Gates "not to award further contracts to Xe and its affiliates and to review all existing contracts with this company."

Neither department has responded to Schakowsky.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Dig

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The Nation: Blackwater Armed And Dangerous In Iraq
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111946211
by Jeremy Scahill August 17, 2009

Despite the Iraqi government's announcement earlier this year that it had canceled Blackwater's operating license, the US State Department continues to allow Blackwater operatives in Iraq to remain armed. A State Department official told The Nation that Blackwater (which recently renamed itself Xe Services) is now operating in Iraq under the name "US Training Center" and will continue its armed presence in the country until at least September 3. That means Blackwater will have been in Iraq nearly two years after its operatives killed seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square.

"Authorized personnel under that task order are permitted to continue carrying weapons until that time," said a State Department diplomatic security official who spoke on condition that his name not be used. He added: "The purpose and mission of the Department of State's private security contractors is limited to protection of US diplomats and diplomatic facilities only and is defensive in nature."

That last point will come as little comfort to Iraqis. The Blackwater operatives involved with the Nisour Square killings on September 16, 2007, were operating under that very description. "The public perception in Iraq is that Blackwater is no longer operating in the country; that they were kicked out and their license revoked," says Raed Jarrar, the Iraq consultant at the American Friends Service Committee. "The public perception is that they are gone already. This is very disturbing."

The State Department's confirmation of Blackwater's continued armed presence in Iraq comes a week after a former Blackwater employee alleged in a sworn statement that the company's owner, Erik Prince, views his company's role as fighting a Christian crusade to "eliminate" Muslims and Islam globally, alleging that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

According to the State Department, Blackwater's sole remaining contract for diplomatic security in Iraq is an aviation contract. As The Nation recently reported, the Obama administration extended that contract on July 31, increasing Blackwater's payment by $20 million and bringing the total paid by the State Department to Blackwater for its "aviation services" in Iraq to $187 million. Blackwater has also been paid over $1 billion by the State Department for "diplomatic security." The large, publicly traded company DynCorp is scheduled to take over Blackwater's aviation contract in September, while Triple Canopy will get the lion's share of the protective security work in Iraq.

On January 28, the Iraqi government announced that it was not issuing Blackwater a license to operate in Iraq, saying the company needed to leave once private security companies were officially placed under the jurisdiction of Iraqi law, as outlined in the Status of Forces Agreement. "Those companies that don't have licenses, such as Blackwater, should leave Iraq immediately," declared Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf. Despite these declarations, Blackwater remained. "Why were they allowed to stay for seven months without any operating license?" asks Jarrar.

The language of the Status of Forces Agreement that took effect January 1, 2009, technically places Defense Department contractors under the jurisdiction of Iraqi law, but it appears to exempt State Department contractors such as Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp from Iraqi jurisdiction. Whether that has played a role in Blackwater's continued presence in Iraq is unclear. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other officials "gave a lot of lip service after the Nisour Square massacre, promising to prosecute Blackwater and ban them from Iraq, but they've done nothing," says Jarrar. "It seems they were deliberately deceiving the public without actually holding the State Department or Blackwater accountable."

A week after Nisour Square, Maliki's government said it would ban the company. "The Iraqi government is responsible for its citizens, and it cannot be accepted for a security company to carry out a killing," Maliki said on September 23, 2007. "There are serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq." (The Iraqi government did not respond to a request for comment.)

Meanwhile, Blackwater continues to have a substantial presence in Afghanistan as well. There it also operates under the banner of US Training Center on a diplomatic security contract for the State Department's Worldwide Personal Protection Program. It also works for the Department of Defense under the banner of Paravant LLC, another Prince-owned company. Four Paravant operatives are under investigation by the US military over the shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians in May.

Blackwater is bidding on more contracts in Afghanistan, which is increasingly becoming the new gold mine for the war industry. Nearly 70,000 contractors are now deployed in Afghanistan on the US government payroll, meaning there are now more contractors than US soldiers (48,000) in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Interior Ministry has licensed nearly forty private security companies who collectively employ 23,000 people in Afghanistan. These companies also control 17,000 weapons there. In addition to those hired by the State Department, the US Department of Defense has about 4,300 security contractors in Afghanistan, and these numbers are steadily increasing. In the second quarter of 2009, the Obama administration increased the number of armed private contractors in Afghanistan by 29 percent.

"I'm not surprised that this transition is happening," says Sonali Kolhatkar, author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence. "We were warned before the election of Obama that Afghanistan was going to be the top war priority, so it is not surprising that Washington would dedicate much of its war machinery to Afghanistan." As for Blackwater, she says: "If they build the same record of killing civilians in Afghanistan that they had in Iraq, it will cement the Afghan resistance even further against the US occupation."

On August 6, Representative Jan Schakowsky wrote letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates citing Blackwater's "history of abuse" and called on Clinton and Gates "not to award further contracts to Xe and its affiliates and to review all existing contracts with this company." Neither department has responded to Schakowsky.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline bigron

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  • RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT 2012
Blackwater’s Unwritten Death Contract

Posted By Ray McGovern On August 20, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

Hats off to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times for reporting that it was after CIA Director Leon Panetta’s holdover lieutenants finally told him that, under President Bush, they had farmed out assassinations to their Blackwater subsidiary, that he abruptly stopped the project and told Congress.

I use "they" advisedly, since the CIA officials who had kept Panetta in the dark continue to function as Panetta’s top managers at the agency.

Until now, it was not clear what prompted Panetta to set up hurried consultations in late June with the intelligence oversight committees of the House and Senate. And an odd odor still hangs over the affair.

After being briefed by Panetta, one committee member described him as "stunned" that his lingering lieutenants had kept information on the program from him until nearly five months into his tenure.

And yet there is not the faintest hint that anyone on either committee dared to ask why Panetta continues to leave such tainted officials in very senior positions.

Mazzetti quotes officials as admitting that "the CIA did not have a formal contract with Blackwater" for a program with "lethal" authority.

What Mazzetti does not mention —  and what he, like the vast majority of Americans, may not know — is that there is a one-sentence umbrella "contract" available for use as authorization for such activities. It is a legal loophole of sorts, through which Bush and Cheney drove a Mack truck.

Bush administration lawyers were not the first to read considerable leeway into that loophole — one sentence in the language of the National Security Act of 1947. The sentence can be (ab)used as authorization for all manner of crimes — irrespective of existing law or executive order.

A Cheney-esque "unitary executive" perspective and a dismissive attitude toward lawmakers reinforced George W. Bush’s predilection to exploit this ambiguous language, taking it further than it had ever been taken in the past.

The Act (as slightly amended) stipulates that the CIA Director shall:

"Perform such functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the National Security Council may from time to time direct."

There’s the "umbrella contract." While more than one past President (I served under seven during my tenure at CIA) has taken advantage of that open language, the Bush administration translated the dodging into a new art form.
This, in turn, was sustained by Frankenstein cottage industries like Blackwater to launch and operate the administration’s own Gestapo. I use the word advisedly; do not blanch before it.

As for outsourcing, the Nazi Gestapo enjoyed umbrella authorization from the Fuhrer; they and the SS knew what was wanted, and famously "followed orders."

There was absolutely no need to go back to supreme authority for approval to contract out some of their work. German legislators turned out to be even more intimidated than ours — if you can imagine it.

Charlatans Can Apply…and Stay

As for an American President’s freedom of action, all a President need do is surround himself with eager co-conspirators like the sycophant former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, (not to mention his, and Panetta’s, lingering lieutenants) who give allegiance to their secret world of unchecked power, rather than to the Constitution of the United States.

True, a Vice President thoroughly versed in using the levers of power can be a valuable asset. But the sine quo non for successful subversion of our Constitutional process is this: cowardly members of Congress so afraid of being painted pastel on terrorism that they abdicate their oversight responsibility.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney made "terrorification" of Congress a high priority, and congressional leaders caved, winking even at torture, kidnapping, warrantless eavesdropping, etc., etc., etc.

Speaking of contracting, Congress’ oversight role was, in a very real sense, "contracted out" — to eight invertebrate leaders from the House and Senate whose unconscionable, see-no-evil acquiescence was driven solely by their felt need to appear tough on terrorism.

"After 9/11 everything changed," is certainly an overused aphorism. But it does apply to the spirit and soul of our country, after President Bush was given the pulpit at National Cathedral.

Vengeance is ours, said the President. And the vast majority of Christian leaders were cowed into razoring out of their Bibles "Blessed are the Peacemakers."

The clergy clapped, and so did the Congress and the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM). Don’t you remember?

The situation bears a striking resemblance to that described by writer Sebastian Haffner in Berlin in 1933 after the Reichstag fire (Germany’s 9/11):

"What was missing is what in animals is called ‘breeding.’ This is a solid inner kernel that cannot be shaken by external pressures, something noble and steely, a reserve of pride, principle, and dignity to be drawn on in the hour of trial. It is missing in Germans.

"As a nation they are without backbone. That was shown in March 1933. At the moment of truth, when other nations rise spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed, yielded to a nervous breakdown, and became a nightmare to the rest of the world." [Defying Hitler, p. 135]

Stormy Applause

And our Congress? During the President’s infamous State-of-the-Union address on Jan. 28, 2003 (yes, the one with the uranium-from-Africa-to-Iraq and other make-believe), Bush got the most unbridled applause when, after bragging about the 3,000 "suspected terrorists" whom he said had been arrested, he added:

"And many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."

The lawmakers’ reaction and the cheering that followed in the FCM reminded me of the short italicized note that Pravda regularly tacked onto the bottom of paragraphs recording the text of similarly fulsome leadership speeches: Burniye aplaudismenti; vce stoyat! — Stormy applause; all rise!

Even so, Soviet leaders generally avoided (as not quite presidential) the seeking of applause for thinly veiled allusions to extrajudicial killing.

It is Congress that is collectively responsible for abdicating its oversight responsibility, while cheering on creeps like Cofer Black, CIA’s top counter-terrorism official from 1999 to May 2002 and now one of Blackwater’s senior leaders.

In his prepared testimony to a joint congressional 9/11 inquiry on Sept. 26, 2002, the swashbuckling Black said this about "operational flexibility":

"All I want to say is that there was ‘before’ 9/11 and ‘after’ 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off. … I know that we are on the right track today and as a result we are safer as a nation. ‘No Limits’ aggressive, relentless, worldwide pursuit of any terrorist who threatens us is the only way to go and is the bottom line."

What were those "gloves" to which you referred, Mr. Black? Do you mean that legal restrictions were gone? And "No Limits?" Is it the case that there now are no limitations on your pursuit of terrorists?

From what do you derive that kind of authorization, Mr. Black? These are just sample questions that, apparently, occurred to none of the senators to ask.

And authorization? In the Bush/Cheney White House, all it took was a presidential signature, like that appearing in strokes of large felt-tipped pen under the two-page executive memorandum of Feb. 7, 2002.

Last December the Senate Armed Forces Committee, without dissent, concluded that this memo, "opened the door" to abusive interrogation by exempting al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees from Geneva protections. Alberto Gonzales, in an inadvertent blunder, released that memo five years ago.

Special presidential memos (often referred to as "Findings") authorizing covert action like the lethal activities of the CIA and Blackwater have not yet surfaced. They will, in due course, if the patriotic truth tellers who have now spoken to the Times and the Washington Post about CIA and Blackwater continue to put the Constitution and courage above secrecy oaths.

The Savage Mood

CIA operative Gary Schroen told National Public Radio that, just days after 9/11, Cofer Black sent him to Afghanistan with orders to "Capture bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box on dry ice." As for other al-Qaeda leaders, Black reportedly said, "I want their heads up on pikes."

Schroen told NPR he had been stunned that, for the first time in 30 years of service, he had received orders to kill targets rather than to capture them. Contacted by the radio network, Black would not confirm the exact words of the order to Schroen, but did not dispute Schroen’s account.

This quaint tone reverberated among macho pundits in the FCM. Washington Post veteran Jim Hoagland, who was extremely well plugged in to the Bush administration, on Oct. 31, 2001, wrote an open letter to President Bush.

Apparently no Halloween prank, Hoagland strongly endorsed the wish for "Osama bin Laden’s head on a pike," a wish he attributed to Bush’s "generals and diplomats." The consummate insider, Hoagland then almost gave the real game away, giving Bush a list of priorities:

"The need to deal with Iraq’s continuing accumulation of biological and chemical weapons and the technology to build a nuclear bomb can in no way be lessened by the demands of the Afghan campaign. You must conduct that campaign so that you can pivot quickly from it to end the threat Saddam Hussein’s regime poses."

I have the feeling we are in for many more chapters recording how the savage mood in Washington played out during the last seven years of the Bush/Cheney administration.

Read more by Ray McGovern
Cheney’s New Gambit – August 14th, 2009
Christians Largely Mum on Torture – July 31st, 2009
Recalling the Downing Street Minutes – July 24th, 2009
Cheney Sweats Out the Summer – July 15th, 2009
Is Texas Harboring Torture Decider? – July 8th, 2009

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com

URL to article: http://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2009/08/20/blackwaters-unwritten-death-contract/


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man, am I watching the BOURNE IDENTITY films all over again, or what?


Offline bigron

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Is Blackwater Too Big to Fail?

— By Daniel Schulman | Fri August 21, 2009 8:14 AM PST

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/08/blackwater-too-big-fail

Erik Prince's security enterprise has a division for pretty much everything. Need planes or choppers? See Aviation Worldwide or Presidential Airways. A compliment of Colombian mercs? Greystone at your service. For-hire spooks? Total Intelligence Solutions—emphasis on total—is standing by. And for the super-double-secret covert work—the kind that the CIA keeps even Congress in the dark about—Prince has a division for that too. According to the New York Times, it's called Blackwater Select.

Building on its scoop that the company played a role in the CIA's abandoned program to assassinate Al Qaeda operatives, the Times reports today that this secret division also plays a part in the agency's predator drone program.

The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said.

The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq.



You'd think that after repeated controversies Prince's government clients would tire of the enduring PR nightmare and cut their ties. But they won't, because they can't. By many, the company is viewed as indispensable. This didn't happen by accident. It's long been Prince's business model. "Make yourself indispensable to the client, and you'll always have work," Prince is quoted as saying in Suzanne Simons' new book, Master of War.

Certainly the company didn't rise up from its modest origins to become a contracting behemoth without a lot of help. That is, if the company is indispensable, that's largely because we made it that way. The more jobs the government contracts out to Blackwater (and other industry players), the more the government loses the internal capacity to do them itself. Think of it this way: Blackwater operators were originally trained by the government to carry out the drone work. If the government decides it wants to assume this role again one day, will its personnel need to be trained by Blackwater?

It's not just about outsourcing—it's the kind of jobs that are being outsourced to Blackwater that raise questions. Writing in Time, ex-CIA officer Robert Baer points out:

It's one thing, albeit often misguided, for the agency to outsource certain tasks to contractors. It's quite another to involve a company like Blackwater in even the planning and training of targeted killings, akin to the CIA going to the mafia to draw up a plan to kill Castro.

I suspect that if the agreements are ever really looked into — rather than a formal contract, the CIA reportedly brokered individual deals with top company brass — we will find out that Blackwater's assassination work was more about bilking the U.S. taxpayer than it was killing Osama bin Laden or other al-Qaeda leaders. More than a few senior CIA officers retired from the CIA and went to work at Blackwater, the controversial private security shop now known as Xe Services. Not only did those officers presumably take their CIA Rolodexes with them out the door, but many probably didn't choose to leave until they had a lucrative new contract lined up. But more to the point, Blackwater stood no better chance of placing operatives in Pakistan's tribal areas, where the al-Qaeda leadership was hiding in 2004, than the CIA or the U.S. military did.

Still, whether by virtue of Blackwater's revolving door relationship with the CIA, or the agency's own manpower shortages, the company has now been entrusted with some of the intelligence community's most senstive work. Thanks to the Times, we now know more details about Blackwater's CIA work, but this likely represents a fraction of the covert contracts (or handshake agreements, as the case may be) the company and its affiliates have undertaken for the agency. Add in the many non-secret jobs these companies perform for the government, and it becomes hard to imagine the Obama administration extricating itself from its inherited relationship with Prince's companies even if it wanted to. In some ways, Prince's operation is the military world version of AIG—too big to fail. 



Offline winthorp

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Jeremy Schill was on Bill Maher last night and just destroyed Bill Maher's god Obama.  It was awesome.  As a Christian I know I'm not supposed to judge, but I wonder if Eric Prince has a soul if the allegations against him are true.  Sad
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge - Hosea 4:6

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C.I.A. Uses Blackwater To Put Bombs On Drones Aimed At Al-Qaeda Leaders
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/20/cia-uses-blackwater-to-pu_n_264748.html
WASHINGTON - From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington's most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda's leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees.

"C.I.A. will use Blackwater To Put Bombs On Drones (which can find your house via the GPS data that your census worker took) Aimed At U.S. citizens in the United States."

Illegal immigrants, and NWO employees will be spared via MITRE corporation's restricted targets list AI enterprise architecture  database."

Offline Satyagraha

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Blackwater Founder Accused in Court of Intent to Kill
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/28/AR2009082803782_pf.html
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 29, 2009

The founder of Blackwater USA deliberately caused the deaths of innocent civilians in a series of shootings in Iraq, attorneys for Iraqis suing the security contractor told a federal judge Friday.

The attorneys singled out Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL who is the company's owner, for blame in the deaths of more than 20 Iraqis between 2005 and 2007. Six former Blackwater guards were criminally charged in 14 of the shootings, and family members and victims' estates sued Prince, Blackwater (now called Xe Services LLC) and a group of related companies.

"The person responsible for these deaths is Mr. Prince,'' Susan L. Burke, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. "He had the intent, he provided the weapons, he provided the instructions, and they were done by his agents and they were war crimes.''

Judge T.S. Ellis III expressed deep skepticism about the claims. "Are you accusing Mr. Prince of saying 'I want our boys to go out and shoot innocent civilians?' '' he asked the attorneys."These are certainly allegations of not engaging in very nice conduct, but where are the elements that meet the elements of murder? I don't have any doubt that you can infer malice. What you can't infer, as far as I can tell, is intent to kill these people.''

Attorneysfor the former Blackwater company denied the allegations at the hearing, which was called to consider their motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Ellis said he would issue a ruling "promptly.''

The hearing -- combative in its words but respectful in tone -- was the latest fallout from Blackwater's controversial actions in Iraq. The North Carolina company, which has provided security under a lucrative State Department contract, has come under scrutiny for a string of incidents in which its heavily armed guards were accused of using excessive force.

The deadliest was a September 2007 shooting in central Baghdad in which Blackwater guards opened fire on Iraqis in a crowded street, killing 17 civilians. The company has said the guards' convoy came under fire. Five former Blackwater guards have been indicted on federal charges in 14 of those shootings. A sixth guard pleaded guilty.

The lawsuit cites that incident and other shootings to accuse the company of "lawless behavior." A consolidation of five earlier lawsuits, it says the company covered up killings and hired known mercenaries. In sworn affidavits recently filed by the plaintiffs' attorneys, two anonymous former Blackwater employees also say -- without citing evidence -- that the company may have conspired to murder witnesses in the criminal probe.

Attorneys for Blackwater say the lawsuit should be dismissed on a variety of legal grounds and that although the deaths were tragic, the guards were closely supervised by U.S. government officials. The allegations "go far beyond describing the harm allegedly suffered by Plaintiffs,'' the Blackwater attorneys wrote in their motion to dismiss. "They include an encyclopedia of vituperative assertions.''

The Blackwater attorneys are also calling on the judge to strike the affidavits from the former employees from the court record, calling them "scandalous and baseless" and designed to get publicity. Ellis has yet to rule on that motion.

And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Harconen

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Flushing Blackwater


Jeremy Scahill
The Nation
Wed, 26 Aug 2009 03:00 UTC
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090914/scahill

Blackwater, the private mercenary company owned by Erik Prince, has been thrust back into the spotlight by a series of stunning revelations about its role in covert US programs. Since at least 2002, Blackwater has worked for the CIA in Afghanistan and Pakistan on "black" contracts. On August 19, the New York Times revealed that the company was, in fact, a central part of a secret CIA assassination program that Dick Cheney allegedly ordered concealed from Congress. The paper then reported that Blackwater remains a key player in the widening air war in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it arms drone aircraft. These disclosures follow allegations--made under oath by former Blackwater employees--that Prince murdered or facilitated the murder of potential government informants and that he "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."

In addition, Blackwater is being investigated by the Justice Department for possible crimes ranging from weapons smuggling to manslaughter and by the IRS for possible tax evasion. It is being sued in federal courts by scores of Iraqi civilians for alleged war crimes and extrajudicial killings. Two of its men have pleaded guilty to weapons-smuggling charges; another pleaded guilty to the unprovoked manslaughter of an Iraqi civilian, and five others have been indicted on similar counts. The US military is investigating Blackwater's killing of civilians in Afghanistan in May, and reports are emerging that the company may be implicated in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

And yet, despite these black marks, the Obama administration continues to keep Blackwater on the government's payroll. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, Blackwater still works for the CIA, the State Department and the Defense Department to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, and its continuing presence is an indicator of just how entrenched private corporations are in the US war machinery. The United States now deploys more private forces (74,000) than uniformed soldiers (57,000) in Afghanistan. While the majority of these contractors are not armed, a sizable number carry weapons, and their ranks are swelling. A recent Defense Department census reports that as of June 30, armed DoD contractors in Afghanistan had increased by 20 percent from the first quarter of 2009.

With the exception of a few legislators, notably Representatives Henry Waxman and Jan Schakowsky, Congress has left the use of private military contractors largely unmonitored. But the recent disclosures of Blackwater's covert activities may finally force Congress to take action. At the very least, the Obama administration should be required to disclose current and past federal contracts with all of Prince's companies and affiliates, including those registered offshore.

Congress can take Schakowsky's lead and ask the Obama administration why it is continuing to work with Blackwater. Schakowsky has called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to review all of the company's existing contracts and not to award any new ones to its many affiliates. Congressional intelligence committees should also conduct a wide-ranging investigation into Blackwater's involvement in the CIA assassination program. Were Blackwater operatives involved in actual killings? Who approved the company's involvement? Was Congress notified? How high up the chain of command did the covert relationship with the company go? Was Blackwater active on US soil? What role, if any, did/does Blackwater play in secretly transporting prisoners?

This investigation must include the sworn testimony of former top CIA officials who were later hired or paid by Blackwater. Among these are Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, the former number-three man at the agency, who gave Blackwater its first CIA contract and then served on the company's board, and J. Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA's counterterrorism unit, which ran the assassination program. Black later became the vice chair of Blackwater and ran Total Intelligence Solutions, Prince's private CIA. Total Intelligence has been simultaneously employed by the US government, foreign governments and private companies, an arrangement that may have created conflicts of interest that the House and Senate intelligence committees are obliged to investigate. Congress should also ask if national security is compromised when the knowledge, contacts and access possessed by former high-ranking CIA officials like Black and Krongard are placed on the open market.

John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has questioned whether Blackwater used its State Department clearance as cover to gather information for targeted killings. Kerry should hold hearings in which Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice would be compelled to testify on the matter. The oversight committees should probe allegations that Blackwater was involved in arms smuggling and extrajudicial killings in Iraq, while committees dealing with military affairs should investigate what impact Blackwater's actions in Iraq have had on the safety of US troops. An invaluable asset for these investigations could be the Commission on Wartime Contracting, established by Senators Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill. Finally, the Justice Department should probe the murder, smuggling and other allegations against Prince and his executives.

In all of this, Blackwater has proved itself to be a whack-a-mole: it keeps popping up. Despite the Iraqi government's ban on the company, its operatives remain in Iraq a full two years after the September 2007 Nisour Square massacre, in which seventeen Iraqi civilians were gunned down in Baghdad. This resilience means that the investigations into the company must be comprehensive and coordinated.

Lastly, it is a mistake to think that Blackwater is the only problem. In Iraq, for example, the Obama administration is replacing Blackwater with the private contractor Triple Canopy, which, in addition to hiring some of Blackwater's men, has its own questionable history, including allegations of shooting civilians and hiring forces from countries with a history of human rights abuses. Blackwater is but one fruit on the poisonous tree of military outsourcing. It is imperative that Congress confront the intimate linking of corporate profits to US wars and lethal, covert operations.

This article appeared in the September 14, 2009 edition of The Nation.
Resist. Rebel. Cry out to all peoples and nations from the sky as the lightening flashes from the east to the west and judge the living and the dead.Or choose submission and slavery.

The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  (John 1:5)

Offline Dig

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Report: Blackwater guard saw Iraqi killings as 9/11 revenge
http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/09/08/report-blackwater-guard-saw-iraqi-killings-as-911-revenge/
By Stephen C. Webster
Published: September 8, 2009


Did Blackwater mercenaries murder Iraqis to satiate their thirst for 9/11 revenge?

According to Department of Justice files, at least one did, noted Mother Jones associate editor Daniel Schulman on Tuesday morning.

The revelation was torn from documents relative to the prosecution of Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 Baghdad massacre that left 17 dead.

According to the documents Schulman pulled, guards “routinely acted in disregard of the use of force policies,” and one, known as “Raven 23,” allegedly bragged that disregard for Iraqi lives stemmed from a desire for revenge after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While Bush administration officials eventually admitted this, in the run-up to invasion they repeatedly implied that the middle eastern nation was loosely connected to the attacks.

A key passage excerpted from the filings reads:

This evidence tends to establish that the defendants fired at innocent Iraqis not because they actually believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury and actually believed that they had no alternative to the use of deadly force, but rather that they fired at innocent Iraqi civilians because of their hostility toward Iraqis and their grave indifference to the harm that their actions would cause.

Mother Jones has posted the court records online (PDF link).

Controversy has surrounded the private security firm practically since it was founded, but erupted anew recently when former employees accused Blackwater’s founder and former CEO of murdering or facilitating the murders of other employees who were preparing to blow the whistle on his alleged criminal activities.

The sworn statements also say that founder Erik Prince and Blackwater executives were involved in illegal weapons smuggling and had, on numerous occasions, ordered incriminating documents, e-mails, photos and video destroyed. The former employees described Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”

One of the statements also charges that “Prince’s North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring, which was participated in by many of Mr. Prince’s top executives.”

The former employees additionally claim that Prince was engaged in illegal arms dealing, money laundering, and tax evasion, that he created “a web of companies in order to obscure wrong-doing, fraud, and other crimes,” and that Blackwater’s chief financial officer had “resigned … stating he was not willing to go to jail for Erik Prince.”

The company was also allegedly involved in the planning stages of the CIA’s assassination program, which was reportedly never used, then scrapped by CIA chief Leon Panetta.

Prince has repeatedly insisted his company has done nothing wrong and Blackwater continues to fulfill its contracts with the United States government.

For the massacre of Iraqi civilians, five Blackwater guards were arrested and charged with manslaughter. A sixth guard flipped and agreed to testify against the others. Government informants later claimed the company tried to gather up and destroy weapons involved in the slaughter.

The State Department announced last January that it would not be renewing Blackwater’s contract for security services in Iraq when it was set to expire in May, however the Obama administration decided to extend it through Sept. 3, according to The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill.

ABC reported the new contract extension is for an unspecified amount of time and could end “within weeks or months.”

When it is finally allowed to expire, Blackwater’s involvement with Iraq will have ended, completely.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Unintelligable Name

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According to the documents Schulman pulled, guards “routinely acted in disregard of the use of force policies,” and one, known as “Raven 23,” allegedly bragged that disregard for Iraqi lives stemmed from a desire for revenge after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Fits my signature quite nicely.

Offline chris jones

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Erik Prince and Oly North were mentioned.

A very good comparison. They both should be in chains. Blackwater is a blight on humanity, and ole North is and allways was a sadistic sociopath.

I saw Oly during a ranger training exercise kick a kid with a full pack out the door of a huey well over 4 meters of the ground. This was many decade ago. Safe to say he hasn't changed, and his playmate The Prince is picking up where oly left off if he ever has??
I PRAY that these two witnesses are safe , stay that way, and this case goes public, and to court.

I know it is hard to beleive for many of us that there exist humans who litterally get off on murder and torture. Some say its a sickness and pyscobalbe this behavior, I say its raw evil.

Offline Effie Trinket

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There is nothing 'Christian' whatsoever about Erik Prince. He and his cabal have used the evangelical Christian community to build their resume (doing "God's" work), raise money, and then under 'Christian' cover, proceeded to engage in genocide.

Similar to Zionists, who operate under "Jewish" cover, they are nothing more than sociopaths who wear the cloak of religious zealotism in an effort to hide evil intent. Likewise the Muslim Brotherhood, devout "Muslims" are using Islam as a cover for terrorism. These efforts destroy not only their 'targeted' populations, but also the groups in which they seek cover.  None are true believers in any religion ... perhaps the most 'honest' of all were the communists, 'atheists' - who just did their evil out in the open, although you could argue they hid under the cover of working on behalf of the 'people'.

I'll post older articles on this topic, since it has relevance today:

http://www.salon.com/2007/10/02/blackwater_bush/
Quote
TUESDAY, OCT 2, 2007 04:08 PM EDT
The Bush administration’s ties to Blackwater
Blamed in the deaths of Iraqi civilians, the private security firm has long ties to the White House and prominent Republicans, including Ken Starr.
BEN VAN HEUVELEN

When Blackwater contractors guarding a U.S. State Department convoy allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, it was only the latest in a series of controversial shooting incidents associated with the private security firm. Blackwater has a reputation for being quick on the draw. Since 2005, the North Carolina-based company, which has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq, has reported 195 “escalation of force incidents”; in 163 of those cases Blackwater guns fired first. According to the New York Times, Blackwater guards were twice as likely as employees of two other firms protecting State Department personnel in Iraq to be involved in shooting incidents.

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing on the U.S. military’s use of private contractors. When Waxman announced plans for the hearing last week, the State Department directed Blackwater not to give any information or testimony without its signoff. After a public spat between Rep. Waxman and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department relented. Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince is now scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

But the attempt to shield Prince was apparently not the first time State had protected Blackwater. A report issued by Waxman on Monday alleges that State helped Blackwater cover up Iraqi fatalities. In December 2006, State arranged for the company to pay $15,000 to the family of an Iraqi guard who was shot and killed by a drunken Blackwater employee. In another shooting death, the payment was $5,000. As CNN reported Monday, the State Department also allowed a Blackwater employee to write State’s initial “spot report” on the Sept. 16 shooting incident — a report that did not mention civilian casualties and claimed contractors were responding to an insurgent attack on a convoy.

The ties between State and Blackwater are only part of a web of relationships that Blackwater has maintained with the Bush administration and with prominent Republicans. From 2001 to 2007, the firm has increased its annual federal contracts from less than $1 million to more than $500 million, all while employees passed through a turnstile between Blackwater and the administration, several leaving important posts in the Pentagon and the CIA to take jobs at the security company. Below is a list of some of Blackwater’s luminaries with their professional — and political — résumés.

Erik Prince, founder and CEO: How did Blackwater go from a small corporation training local SWAT teams to a seemingly inseparable part of U.S. operations in Iraq? Good timing, and the connections of its CEO, may be the answer.

Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1996 but reportedly took a behind-the-scenes role in the company until after 9/11, has connections to the Republican Party in his blood. His late father, auto-parts magnate Edgar Prince, was instrumental in the creation of the Family Research Council, one of the right-wing Christian groups most influential with the George W. Bush administration. At his funeral in 1995, he was eulogized by two stalwarts of the Christian conservative movement, James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Edgar Prince’s widow, Elsa, who remarried after her husband’s death, has served on the boards of the FRC and another influential Christian-right organization, Dobson’s Focus on the Family. She currently runs the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, where, according to IRS filings, her son Erik is a vice president. The foundation has given lavishly to some of the marquee names of the Christian right. Between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the FRC and $531,000 to Focus on the Family.

Both Edgar and Elsa have been affiliated with the Council for National Policy, the secretive Christian conservative organization whose meetings have been attended by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, and whose membership is rumored to include Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Dobson. The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave the CNP $80,000 between July 2003 and July 2006.

The former Betsy Prince — Edgar and Elsa’s daughter, Erik’s sister — married into the DeVos family, one of the country’s biggest donors to Republican and conservative causes. (“I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.) She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005, and her husband, Dick, ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan governor in 2006.

Erik Prince himself is no slouch when it comes to giving to Republicans and cultivating relationships with important conservatives. He and his first and second wives have donated roughly $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees. Through his Freiheit Foundation, he also gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries, run by former Nixon official Charles Colson, in 2000. In the same year, he contributed $30,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. During college, he interned in George H.W. Bush’s White House, and also interned for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. Rohrabacher and fellow California Republican Rep. John Doolittle have visited Blackwater’s Moyock, N.C., compound, on a trip arranged by the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm founded by former aides of then House Majority Leader Tom Delay. ASG partner Paul Behrends is a longtime associate of Prince’s.

Prince’s connections seem to have paid off for Blackwater. Robert Young Pelton, author of “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror,” has reported that one of Blackwater’s earliest contracts in the national arena was a no-bid $5.4 million deal to provide security guards in Afghanistan, which came after Prince made a call to then CIA executive director Buzzy Krongard. What’s more, Harper’s Ken Silverstein has reported that Prince has a security pass for CIA headquarters and “meets with senior people” inside the CIA. But Prince’s most important benefactor was fellow conservative Roman Catholic convert L. Paul Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American occupation government in Iraq. In August 2003, Blackwater won a $27.7 million contract to provide personal security for Bremer. In charge of the Blackwater team guarding Bremer was Frank Gallagher, who had provided personal security for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when Bremer was managing director of Kissinger’s consulting firm, Kissinger and Associates, in the 1990s.

By 2005, Blackwater was earning $353 million annually from federal contracts. Blackwater’s benefits from government largess haven’t ended with Iraq. The company was recently one of five awarded a Department of Defense counter-narcoterrorism contract that could reportedly be worth as much as $15 billion. Blackwater also became involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and profited handsomely. According to Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” Blackwater had made roughly $73 million for Katrina-related government work by June 2006, less than a year after the hurricane hit.

Joseph Schmitz, chief operating officer and general counsel: In 2002, President Bush nominated Schmitz to oversee and police the Pentagon’s military contracts as the Defense Department’s inspector general. Schmitz presided over the largest increase of military-contracting spending in history: As of 2005, 77 companies were awarded 149 “prime contracts” worth $42.1 billion, with hundreds of millions going to Blackwater. Unlike previous I.G.s, Schmitz reported directly to the secretary of defense — a setup that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers objected to, given Schmitz’s oversight responsibility. Schmitz even carried Rumsfeld’s “12 principles” for the Pentagon in his lapel pocket. The first principle read, “Do nothing that could raise questions about the credibility of DoD.”

Schmitz has many ties to the Republican Party establishment. His father, John G. Schmitz, was a two-term Republican congressman, and his brother, Patrick Schmitz, served as George H.W. Bush’s deputy counsel from 1985 to 1993. Joseph himself worked as a special assistant to Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese.

Schmitz resigned in 2005 under mounting pressure from both Democratic and Republican senators, who accused him of interfering with criminal investigations into inappropriately awarded contracts, turning a blind eye to conflicts of interest and other failures of oversight. According to an October 2005 article in Time magazine, Schmitz showed the White House the results of his staff’s multiyear investigation into a contract in which the Air Force leased air-refueling tankers from Boeing for more than it would have cost to buy them, then agreed to redact the names of senior White House staffers involved in the decision before sending the final report to Congress. Schmitz informed his staff on Aug. 26, 2005, that he was leaving the Pentagon; in September of that year, he went to work for Blackwater.

J. Cofer Black, vice chairman: Black spent most of his 28-year CIA career running covert operations in the Directorate of Operations, where he worked with Rob Richer (below). At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. There he was former CIA Director George Tenet’s ace in the hole when it came to convincing Bush that the CIA should lead initial U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan after 9/11. Black is, according to published accounts, a man with a flair for the dramatic, the kind of briefer President Bush likes. In one briefing, according to several reports, Black told the president, “When we’re through with [terrorists in Afghanistan], they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.” (Black also ordered CIA field officer Gary Schroen to bring back Osama bin Laden’s head packed in dry ice so Black could show it to Bush.) Black’s Afghanistan presentation earned him “special access” to the White House, the Washington Post’s Dana Priest reported in December 2005.

Black is also one of the more prominent faces associated with the Bush administration’s interrogation and extraordinary rendition policies. In a famous moment, Black told Congress in 2002, “After 9/11, the gloves came off.” And the group within the CIA responsible for extraordinary renditions — operations in which covert agents grab terror suspects and take them to secret prison facilities for interrogations that would normally be prohibited as torture — fell under Black at the CTC, Priest has reported.

Black later went to the State Department, where one of his roles was to begin coordinating security for the 2004 Olympics in Greece. In 2003, the State Department gave Blackwater a contract to train the Olympic security teams.

In 2004, Black left the State Department to join Blackwater, part of what Harper’s Silverstein termed a “revolving door to Blackwater” from the CIA. In addition to his work with Blackwater and his own company, Total Intelligence Solutions, Black also recently joined the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, where he serves the Republican hopeful as senior advisor for counterterrorism and national security.

Rob Richer, vice president for intelligence: Richer was head of the CIA’s Near East division — and the agency’s liaison with King Abdullah of Jordan — from 1999 to 2004. In 2003, he briefed President Bush on the nascent Iraqi insurgency. In late 2004, he became the associate deputy director in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, making him the second-ranking official for clandestine operations. He left the agency for Blackwater in the fall of 2005, effectively taking the agency’s relationship with Abdullah with him. The CIA had invested millions of dollars in training Jordan’s intelligence services. There was an obvious quid pro quo: In exchange for the training, Jordan would share information. Jordan has now hired Blackwater’s intelligence division — headed by Richer — to do its spy training instead. The CIA isn’t happy, writes Silverstein: “People [at the agency] are pissed off,” said Silverstein’s source. “Abdullah still speaks with Richer regularly and he thinks that’s the same thing as talking to us. He thinks Richer is still the man.”

Fred Fielding, former outside counsel: After four Blackwater employees were tortured and killed in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, their families brought a wrongful-death lawsuit against Blackwater, charging that the company had not provided adequate arms, armor and backup. Blackwater feared that if it was found liable for its employees’ deaths, a floodgate of future litigation could be opened. To fight the suit, Blackwater hired Fielding, the consummate Republican insider. Dan Callahan, a lawyer representing the families, told Salon he was shocked when he learned Fielding would be representing the company. “How the hell,” Callahan says he wondered at the time, “did I draw Fred Fielding on this case?”

Fielding has had a long career as a lawyer to prominent Republicans. From 1970 to 1972, he was an associate White House counsel in the Nixon administration; from 1972 to 1974, he was present for the denouement of that administration as deputy White House counsel. Under President Reagan, he served as White House counsel from 1981 to 1986, where he was the boss of a young assistant counsel named John Roberts, now the chief justice of the United States. After the 2000 election, he served the current administration as transition counsel, and he also held a spot on the 9/11 Commission. In January 2007, Bush chose him as White House counsel.

Ken Starr, outside counsel: According to Callahan, Fielding represented Blackwater as outside counsel for about six months beginning in February 2005. After Fielding left the case, the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which was once home to Jack Abramoff and worked for George W. Bush in the Florida recount, represented Blackwater till October 2006. Blackwater then hired another high-profile lawyer with impeccable Republican credentials — Ken Starr, now the dean of Pepperdine Law School in California. Starr was appointed to the federal bench by Reagan, was U.S. solicitor general under George H.W. Bush and was on Bush’s shortlist to replace William Brennan on the Supreme Court. He is best known, however, as the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton. He revealed the intimate details of Clinton’s affair with intern Monica Lewinsky in the infamous Starr Report and set in motion Clinton’s impeachment by Congress.

Blackwater continues to assert that the state of North Carolina lacks jurisdiction in the wrongful-death lawsuit against the security firm. On Oct. 18, 2006, Starr petitioned Chief Justice Roberts on behalf of Blackwater, asserting that the company was “constitutionally immune” to the lawsuit. “If companies such as Blackwater must factor the defense costs of state tort lawsuits into [their] overall costs,” argued Starr, “Blackwater will suffer irreparable harm.” Roberts denied the petition on Oct. 24. In December, Starr filed a motion to bring the matter before the entire Supreme Court. The motion was denied in February.

How to prepare for martial law: STEP 6- Create a paramilitary force
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EXPOSED: BLACKWATER/XE = C.I.A.!!!!!!! Eric Prince double life as CIA AGENT!!!
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=149662.msg890366#msg890366


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Private Contractor Surge Into Afghanistan-(post all AFPAK contractor news here)