Home Defense: A New Blackwater Course of Special Interest to Christian Warriors By Dan Kenney
April 4, 2010
In addition to training law enforcement Blackwater, now operating under the name Xe Services, is offering a course designed for any gun toting citizen. The world's most powerful and best known mercenary company with the reputation of operating outside of the law in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan is now offering a new class in "Home Defense" at their 6,000 acre North Carolina and their 80 acre northwest Illinois training locations.
Blackwater's training division is now known as U.S. Training Center. According to the US Training Center website the new course has this aim: "The course is designed to make the armed citizen more aware of personal security whether at home or away; considerations in protecting self and family members."
Upon closer examination of what the class entails raises questions about who may be included in the target demographic group for this new training. The training involves the following: "Introduction:This course will inform the concerned citizen on methods of protecting the home front. The students will receive classroom instruction and will engage in shoot/no-shoot, force on force realistic scenarios based on actual events that have occurred where their decision making process will be explored and tested. This is not a basic firearms course but provides training for the time when use of your weapon becomes your only option." (My underlining for emphasis.)
The "students" will pay $595.00 for two days of training. The training involves the following: "Topics:
Use of Force
Security of weapons at home and away
Away from home considerations
Gear & weapons
Mindset/Indications of Mental State
Basic room clearing techniques for the homeowner
Ballistic protection at home and away
Dealing with the Police "
One must ask in which "scenarios" would a homeowner need to conduct a "room clearing?" Also who better to train a citizen on how to "deal with the police" than a company that is involved with training hundreds of police officers every year. It would appear that Blackwater is willing to not only train the police but to train the citizen cops as well.
The only prerequisite for the class is that the "student" knows how to fire a gun. "Prerequisite: Basic pistol marksmanship/familiarization course. This is not a marksmanship course. Handling skills are required prior to attending class."
The equipment supplied includes: "Included Equipment: Simunition® Pistol (customer preference of Glock, Sig Sauer, Beretta), Simunition® safety gear, 100 rounds of Simunition®, holster & magazine carrier."
Simunition is a General Dynamics-Ordnance and Tactical Systems-Canada Inc company that developed in the 1980s. Their mission, according to their website is, "to provide the most realistic training systems possible so that officers and military forces around the world can engage in experience building and ultimately lifesaving exercises."
They also have a philosophy that includes, "helping law enforcement officers, emergency response teams and military personnel to improve their tactical skill and condition their fear response, our family of training products ultimately saves lives." Interesting that there is no mention of citizens who take the law into their own hands; and also interesting that simulator weapons can be referred to as a "family of training products." This brings a whole new light onto the term "family."
The "Home Defense" course however does come with a disclaimer, "Disclaimer: This is NOT a pistol/shotgun course. Students should come prepared to operate their weapon system and be familiar with weapon handling, safety and marksmanship. Local authorities should be consulted on use of Lethal Force and the use of Lethal Force to defend lives and property." (My underlining for emphasis.)
Good to know. Always good to consult with "local authorities" before you use your Glock to kill someone. However they do not include a cell phone in their required gear.
Required gear according to the course description on their website:" Gear: belt, flashlight, ear protection, clothing appropriate for climate and conditions, rain gear, and a water bottle or other hydration system. Cover garment for concealed draw is highly recommended."
Now this kind of training for any gun carrying citizen taught by any company would be unsettling, but to have it provided by a company that is owned by Erik Prince who has been accused of murder by two former employees under sworn statements filed in a Federal court in Virginia last August is especially disturbing. According to sworn testimony by two former Blackwater employees, who were referred to as John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 for fear they may be murdered by Prince or one of his current gunmen, Erik Prince may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with Federal authorities who were investigating the company. The former employees also alleged that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe." One must ask what other crusades may he see as his mission.
Here is an excerpt from the two five page sworn statements by the former employees:
To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."
One does not have to stretch too far to see a troubling possible connection between a company headed by someone who according to Jeremy Scahill in his book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, was "dedicated to a Christian-supremacist agenda" and the creation of the class to train any armed citizen on how to basically be their own law enforcers, just as Prince's mercenaries operated in Iraq. Also one can also make the parallel between the rise of armed citizen militias, some of whom have a similar "Christian-Supremacist agenda," and the need for a class that teaches citizens the same skills that are being taught to the military and to law enforcement.
In addition this is also could be an attempt to bring in more money since last month Blackwater was stopped by GOA from winning a multi-billion dollar contract from the US Army to train Afghan police. Now the contract has to be re-bid and DynCorp is in the running as well. Prince is also selling off his own private air force, Aviation World Services with its subsidiary Presidential Airways for $200 million to AAR Corp. This will mean a cut of another 240 employees after last year layoffs that resulted with the cancellation of the contract to build the Grizzly, an armored vehicle.
The former employees also testified that Erik Prince lives in fear of being prosecuted by the Federal government for the many illegal activities he is suspected of being involved with, such as smuggling illegal arms into Iraq, some of which were sold on the Black Market, tax evasion, wrongful death lawsuits which number in the double digits at last count, etc.
One thing all of this points to is that if you poke a desperate polecat with a stick he is bound to fight back. I wish this meant the downfall of Blackwater and the Prince's Dark Kingdom were near, but I fear that it only means that a reshaping is taking place and who knows what dark hole it will raise from next.
Citizens' Group Urges Support of Stop Outsourcing Security Act: Legislation Introduced February 23rd Today Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) introduced legislation that would phase out private security contractors in war zones.
Last year the U.S. employed more than 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. They performed tasks that ranged from protecting diplomats, training police and military, to repairing and maintain weapons systems, and loading bombs onto drones.
"The behavior of private contractors has endangered our military, hurt relationships with foreign governments, and undermined our missions overseas," Schakowsky said.
The Stop Outsourcing Security Act would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence. The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by U.S. government personnel. The White House could seek exceptions, but those contracts would be subject to congressional oversight.
"It is time to end our dependency upon private security and military contractors. The Afghanistan surge of American military will also mean a surge of 26,000 to 56,000 private contractors." Dan Kenney, co-coordinator of no Private Armies said. "It is also time to stop these contractors from getting away with murder."
No Private Armies urges everyone to get involved and to contact your Senators and representatives and ask them to sign on in support of this bill. View a copy of the Senate bill
Representative Jan Schakowsky to Reintroduce the Stop Outsourcing Security Act - Help us to get additional Co-Sponsors Now! Next week Jan Schakowsky (Rep-IL09) will reintroduce the “Stop Outsourcing Security Act,” to responsibly phase out the use of private security contractors for functions that should be reserved for U.S. military forces and for government personnel. Bernie Sanders (Sen-VT) will be concurrently introducing a companion bill into the Senate.
We need your help. Please contact your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and urge them to sign on as original co-sponsors of this bill and forward this message to your listservs
As Rep Schakowsky said in her letter to her fellow members of the house, “In 2009, the U.S. government employed well over 20,000 armed private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is every indication that these figures will continue to rise in 2010. These men and women are not part of the U.S. military or government. They do not wear the uniform of the United States, though their behavior has, on numerous occasions, severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments.”
Rep. Schakowsky’s bill recognizes that with our military already so very overtaxed that it will take time to eliminate the use of private contractors for functions that should be reserved for U.S. military personnel. Her bill is also in keeping with the recommendations made in July of 2009 by the U.N. Working group on the Use of Mercenaries. more...
Jeremy Schahill - Blackwater's Youngest Victim
Dismissal of Case Against Blackwater Contractors Condemned Congress Must Investigate the Mishandling of Blackwater Case, Coalition Groups Agree in an Open Letter to Congress
SAN DIEGO, CHICAGO, RALEIGH, NC (Jan 12, 2010) - A coalition of citizen groups opposing outsourced security services published an "Open Letter to Congress" calling for an investigation into the mishandling of the case involving Blackwater and the killing of 17 unarmed civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad on September 16, 2007. Blackwater (now Xe Services LLC) was asked to leave the country by Iraqi officials after the event, and later six Blackwater contractors were charged with manslaughter. On New Year's Eve, 2009, Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled the case a mistrial due to mishandling by the Justice Department.
Judge Ricardo Urbina's 90-page opinion makes it clear that the trial team repeatedly refused to heed the warnings of Raymond Hulser, a Deputy Chief in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, who was assigned as the "taint attorney."
The coalition's letter urges Congress to conduct a full scale investigation into why the trial team used defendant statements despite repeated advice not to "rely on any information derived from the defendants' September 16 oral interview statements." The group also asserts that the Department of Justice may have had motivation to taint this case from the start. more...
New Year, Same Old Story: Blackwater Still Gets Away with Murder By Dan Kenney
This may be the first day of a new year, and the start of a new decade, but it is also a day that marks the continuation of an old sad story of injustice. On New Year's Eve Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed all charges against five Blackwater contractors that had been indicted for 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 of attempting to commit manslaughter and one weapons violation. This New Year's Eve gift to Blackwater was bad news for the Iraqi families expecting the American judicial system to deliver justice for the deaths and injuries of their loved ones.
The old story is that, once again, by using the system to their benefit and with the possible deliberate sabotage on the part of the U.S. Attorney assigned to the case, the contractors accused of shooting innocent unarmed Iraqi citizens may never be brought to court.
Judge Urbana's written 90-page opinion does not dispute the investigations by the Iraqi police, the U.S. Army, and the F.B.I. The Iraqi and U.S. investigators found that the guards of the Raven 23 convoy had indiscriminately fired on unarmed civilians in an unprovoked and unjustified assault in the crowded Nisoor Square of Baghdad on September 16, 2007. Witnesses and reports stated some of the victims were shot in the back trying to flee the scene. A nine year old boy riding in the back seat of his father's car was shot in the head and died. None of the investigators were able to find any physical evidence to support the guards' contentions that they had been fired upon. The F.B.I. stated in their report that the Blackwater guards recklessly violated American rules for the use of lethal force. The U.S. military investigators went further saying that all the deaths were unjustified and potentially criminal. Iraqi authorities called the shootings "deliberate murder."
Judge Urbina labeled the misconduct of the trial team, headed by Assistant U.S. attorney Kenneth Kohl, as a "reckless violation of the defendants' constitutional rights," This violation occurred when U.S. Attorney Kohl and Department of justice trial lawyer Stephen Ponticello built their case around the written statements made by the contractors immediately following the shooting. The Judge stated, "In short, the government has utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of defendants' statements or that such use was harmless beyond reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court must dismiss the indictment against all the defendants."
The Rest of the Story
However in the background section of the opinion it becomes obvious that this violation could have been avoided. Judge Urbina describes in detail the many instances where Kohl and the trial team ignored the directives and warnings of Raymond Hulser, a Deputy Chief in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, who was assigned as the “taint attorney.” His responsibility was to prevent prosecutors and investigators handling the investigation from using statements that could contaminate the case which could cause it to be dismissed.
On page 82 of the written opinion Judge Urbina points out that the government’s attempts to characterize Kohl’s failure to heed the warnings and directives of Hulser as a mere “miscommunication” to be “simply implausible.”
Judge Urbina writes, “These inconsistent, extraordinary explanations (given in interviews by Kenneth Kohl) smack of post hoc rationalization and are simply implausible.”
“The only conclusion,” the Judge continued, “the court can draw from this evidence is that Kohl and the rest of the trial team purposefully flouted the advice of the taint team when obtaining the substance of the defendants’ compelled statements, and in so doing, knowingly endangered the viability of the prosecution.”
As Rep Jan Schkowsky of Illinois said in the LA Times, “We’re going to have to understand how this happened.” The Iraqi families and the U.S. citizens that are funding companies like Blackwater, as well as paying for the investigations, have a right to know the motivation behind such reckless misconduct by a seasoned U.S. Attorney. (It is important to note that Kenneth Kohl was also the U.S. attorney assigned to the anthrax case. He was appointed by the Bush administration.)
The Loophole You may recall Order 17, put in place by Paul Bremmer in 2003, which provided immunity for contractors operating in Iraq. The order was struck down in the latest U.S. Security agreement with Iraq. However the U.S. State department replaced it with the "Hunter Memorandum." Regional Security Officer Mark Hunter authored a memorandum titled "WPPS (Worldwide Personnel Protective Services, a company of Blackwater) On-Duty Discharge of Firearms Reporting Procedures" ("the Hunter Memorandum.") The Hunter Memorandum required all Blackwater personnel involved in a shooting incident to report immediately for debriefing by the State Department. After the debriefing any employee who discharged his weapon was to be given a sworn statement form attached to the memorandum. The statement that the five contractors signed included this line, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information." This statement is required and an employee may be terminated for failure to sign it. This is commonly referred to as a "Garrity warning" or "Kalkines warning." The Hunter memorandum and the attached Sworn Statement form were standard procedure to be followed after any shooting incident. So this is the loophole which allowed any guard involved in a shooting to avoid accountability for his actions.
This loophole is still in place and you can be sure that it is in Afghanistan as well.
It was reported that the five contractors were "overjoyed" and that a "great burden had been lifted from their shoulders." However it was a startling blow for the Iraqi government and citizens. As one Iraqi lawmaker said in a speech to Iraq’s parliament, "Ask the Iraqi courts to release all the (Iraqi) defendantsOesentenced to death for killing Americans in Iraq, as an act of reciprocity with the U.S. judicial system."
An adviser to the Iraqi council of ministers said, "This is very bad for the overall look of the United States outside its borders. It's very important for the Americans to realize that this will work against their interests in Iraq and other places."
Although Judge Urbina's decision would make it difficult to reinstate the original charges the guards could still be prosecuted for willfully providing false information in their statements. There is also the possibility that the government will bring obstruction of justice charges against Blackwater managers.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has a civil case in the courts against Blackwater. The Iraqi government said that they will support this lawsuit as well as ask the U.S. Justice Department to review the criminal case.
This decision also puts the U.S. in breach of its treaty obligations to prosecute this case, which was an international law obligation. Now if the U.S. cannot, for the technical reasons set forth in the ruling, prosecute the case, the U.S. is required to waive the immunity and surrender these individuals to the Iraqi authorities for prosecution.
Finally, a Congressional investigation should be conducted into the prosecutorial misconduct that tainted this case. Judge Urbina's decision describes in detail how the trial team seemed determined to sabotage the case from the beginning. It is also known that senior officials of the Justice Department did not want this case to go to trial. One Congressman, who was present at early briefings of the case held on Capitol Hill, said that the Justice Department prosecutors assigned to the case were behaving like defense lawyers building a case to defend the Blackwater employees, not prosecute them. An investigation needs to find out why this occurred.
And the Story Goes On
So the old story goes on. The safety of our soldiers and our citizens put at risk by the careless actions of hired private military and security contractors. Legal loopholes that provide immunity for all contractors, regardless of how murderous their actions may be, continue the pattern of unaccountability. We must ask ourselves and those who represent us, how much longer will we allow those whom we fund to get away with murder in our name.
NoPrivateArmies, the international citizens’ group formed in the United States to fight against the rising tide of mercenary use around the world joins with the UN Working Group to call upon Honduras to end their increased use of mercenaries.
The UN Group, formed in 2005 by the Commission on Human Rights to study the use of mercenaries around the world, states that they have been told that nearly 200 mercenaries have been hired to protect properties and individuals in Honduras. The recruitment, use, financing, and training of mercenaries are prohibited under the International Convention on the issue which was signed by Honduras. ....more
Two Years Still No Justice The nation wide citizen’s group noprivatearmies.org and the Illinois Clearwater group mark the two year anniversary of the Nisour Square shooting with a call on Congress to end the use of private military companies.
Two years ago on a sunny September in Baghdad 17 unarmed innocent civilians were gunned down by contractors of the Blackwater Worldwide private military company. (Now known as Xe.) Over 40 civilians were injured in the massacre. The Blackwater security contractors were part of a U.S. state department convoy making its way through the busy Nisour square. When the convoy was stopped by traffic the contractors became edgy. When a car, driven by a medical student, did not stop when ordered to stop they opened fire. This led to five of the contractors firing indiscriminately in a 360 degree radius. Many of the victims were shot in the back trying to flee the scene. One nine year old boy was killed in the backseat of his father’s car. (more...)
Dan Kenney Reports on UN Working Group Meeting in New York The workshop, held at the UN Church building in UN Plaza, was a large group. Folks from the International Peace Institute, five members of the UN Working group, Human Rights First, International Committee of the Red Cross, several academics from UW at Madison, Columbia, Harvard, etc, lawyer types, a representative from the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) and Center for Constitutional Rights. There was also a lawyer there who represented pmscs in lawsuits filed against them by their victims. She had some interesting perspectives about the industry's role in foreign affairs. (more...)
Published in In These TImes - May 29, 2009 Xe is the Problem
Keeping the corporation formerly known as Blackwater out of Skunk Hollow.
By Jenny Tomkins At first glance, it appears that 2009 didn’t start so well for the military contractor Xe, until February known as Blackwater Worldwide. In January, with multiple other lawsuits pending, six of its former employees went on trial for the death of 17 Iraqi civilians in September 2007 in Nisoor Square, Baghdad. And in March, its contract in Iraq, where it has so far made more than $1 billion dollars, was canceled. Read more
STOP Blackwater Conference
Apr 24, 2009 through Apr 27, 2009
22 Arrested For Criminal Trespassing
At Midwest Blackwater Site by Dan Kenney
April 27, 2009
April 27, 2009 A group of 75 protesters marched to the gate of Blackwater’s Midwest training site in Jo Daviess County Illinois this morning to perform a citizens’ foreclosure on the company. 22 were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing for crossing over onto Blackwater property to deliver the notice of foreclosure.
At the gate beneath a gray sky along a muddy country road Anne Feeney played her activist songs and everyone sang along. On the other side of the metal gate shoulder to shoulder stood four Illinois State Police officers; another group of officers waited about a hundred yards from the gate.
Frank Cordaro, of the Des Moines Phil Berrigan Catholic worker House, called upon the officers to allow the group onto the property to serve the foreclosure notice, and to reclaim the property. He said the citizens that you are sworn to protect are on the outside of the gate and the real criminals are inside the gate, meaning the Blackwater employees. Nora Shaw, also of the Des Moines Ia Catholic Worker House read the following statement:
Statement of Foreclosure Delivered to Blackwater (Xe) for Moral Bankruptcy As Catholic Workers and other concerned citizens of the United States we come today to this northwest Illinois Blackwater training site in an act of nonviolent protest. We are here to make a citizens’ foreclosure on this property of a company that is morally bankrupt. We are here to reclaim this land for the people of the nation who promote democracy and security through humanitarian efforts.
We stand here today as citizens who live in solidarity with and in service to fellow citizens who struggle with joblessness, homelessness, and inadequate wages. We are here to stop the flow of billions of tax dollars to the privatization of our military and the militarization of our police by companies like Blackwater; a company that is responsible for:
Killing innocent Iraqi civilians
Smuggling weapons illegally into Iraq
Illegal possession of firearms
We are here to hold them accountable for all their illegal and immoral actions.
No matter how many times this company changes its name, it can run but it cannot hide from its bloody history or its lawlessness.
After the reading of the statement Mr. Cordaro asked the police once more to help the citizens deliver the notice. He then said, “Lets do what we came here to do and deliver this notice.” He then rolled under the gate onto Blackwater’s property. He was joined by 21 others. The group ranged from their 20s to their 70s. The police forced a couple in their 70s to the ground putting knees into their backs. They also forcibly took a 70 year old man roughly to the ground. Other police officers came forward to assist in the arrests and to lead the cuffed protesters back to the police bus waiting to take them to jail.
Those arrested were later released without bail and given a citation for trespassing. Their court date has been set for June 4th.
It is ironic that Blackwater has been operating in Iraq without a license and has been told by Iraq’s elected Prime Minister to leave the country, and yet it is still operating on Iraqi soil has never been arrested for trespassing, while at the same time 22 unarmed civilians were arrested in the US for crossing onto their property. We need to ask ourselves how this can be when a company that is responsible for the deaths of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, can remain free and these unarmed citizens seeking accountability and justice are arrested?
Update on the Illinois facility
by Dan Kenney April 6, 2009 -
Sunday I gave a presentation at the Sinsinawa Mound, a Dominican Sisters Retreat and Conference center in southwest Wisconsin about 10 miles from the Illinois border. It was well attended, about 50+ I had also arranged an appointment with Mr. Davis of the Blackwater North site for some of the Sisters who are a part of the Faith Resistance Working Circle to attend. About 15 made the drive in a caravan of about 6 cars. Martin Hippie and Jackie Ziegler joined us as well. It was a beautiful crisp day as our cars moved over the rolling hills to the site.
Eric Davis greeted us and shared a short slide show and then answered questions from us for over an hour. He then gave a tour of the site including the new shoot-house. Today was their first class of 2009, a pistol shooting class. more
Blackwater Can Run But It Can Not Hide
Blackwater announced last week that it was changing its name and logo from Blackwater to Xe (Pronounced “z”) in hopes of escaping from its bloody past.
The renaming of Blackwater’s 26 companies under the Xe banner is part of their rebranding campaign launched a year and a half ago when Blackwater contractors were involved in the shooting of 17 innocent Iraqi citizens in a busy Baghdad square. As it was then that they first changed their name from Blackwater USA to Blackwater Worldwide, now to Xe. The Associated press reported, Blackwater officials acknowledged the need for the company to shake its past in Iraq. “Its not a direct result of a loss of contract, but certainly that is an aspect of our work we feel we were defined by,” said spokesperson Anne Tyrrell.
Several times since September of 2007 Erik Prince, Blackwater’s owner, has said that security is one part of their business; they hope to become a “one stop shop” for the Pentagon. They are still involved in Mexican Border patrol, their intelligence division is still providing CIA type services to Fortune 500 corporations, and they are seeking contracts to provide security to ships against so called “pirates.” They are also heavily involved in training both military and civilian personnel, such as municipal police
In the periodic table of the elements, Xe represents an odorless, colorless gas. So, it’s a perfect name for a group that is trying to hide from public scrutiny. But Blackwater cannot hide their odor and their crimes from an awakened citizenry. Clearwater will follow Blackwater and the Prince private army, maritime division, air force, and CIA wherever they go, no matter how many names they try to use. Because no matter what they call themselves they will continue to be a threat to democracy everywhere they go. They may take the name Xe, but they will never be invisible.
Nationwide Events Commemorate 17 Innocent Lives Lost in Blackwater's Nisour Square Massacre -- “Baghdad's Bloody Sunday” Click for full press release
September 16th will mark one year since the killing of 17 unarmed, innocent Iraqi men, women, and children by Blackwater Contractors in Nisour Square Baghdad. To this day not a single Blackwater shooter has faced charges dispite the U.S. Army and Iraqi government investigations finding no provocation for the killings.
We will be joining with the anti-war demonstration in front of the Art Institute at 1:30 Sunday September 14th to mark this sad anniversary date with a demonstration to bring pressure to bear on Blackwater. Also on the same weekend there will be companion demonstrations by groups working to stop Blackwater in San Diego and North Carolina.
Please pass the word and join us.
Help Stop Blackwater: Support HB5700
Support Needed For
Limitations on Private Military Contractors Act
Rep. Julie Hamos has introduced a bill into the Illinois legislation that establishes as public policy that private military contractors should not receive state funding or support in Illinois. The bill sets 3 important limitations on their function and use:
1. No state funds may be used to contract with or purchase services from private military contractors for training of law enforcement or security Guards.
2. No military weapons or explosives may be used by private military contractors in Illinois except on secured U.S. military bases or regulated facilities.
3. No personnel trained by private military contractors may be used to patrol, guard, control, contain or arrest any Illinois resident.
We need your help to move this bill forward in the Illinois House. This legislation is key to getting Blackwater out of Illinois and to protecting Illinois citizens from the impact of other private military firms like Blackwater.
1. Please contact your local state representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor HB5700.
2. Contact Rep. Hamos’s office and let her know that you support this bill and that you will be contacting your local representative to do so as well.
3. Write letters to your local newspapers about this bill and do what you can to generate public discussion about this needed legislation.
In order to move this legislation forward we need to create enthusiasm for it and show that it has support state wide. If you care about the threat to democracy that private military/security companies like Blackwater pose this is your opportunity to act.
If you have questions or comments feel free to contact: Dan Kenney at email@example.com.
Each week new horror stories come to light involving the renegade behavior of private contractors. At the same time they continue to grow in number and in power. In 2005 the University of Wales reported that worldwide the private security market was valued at $85 billion and had a annual growth rate of 6-8%. Today it is growing just as fast and has surpassed $100 billon.
In early January 2008 our NoPrivateArmies group assisted in the drafting of the first legislation in Illinois to regulate where private military companies can do training and the type of weapons they may use. It also calls for the regulation of governments and municipalities use of private military security companies. This is a very important first step toward ending the expansion of such companies as Blackwater into Illinois. It also may provide a model for future legislation in other states.
For our most recent news articles, updated January 24, 2008 - go to The Latest News
RE: Blackwater Shooting of Iraqi Civilians
September 19 2007:
The Clearwater Citizens' Project organized to stop Blackwater’s expansion into Illinois and to educate others about Blackwater’s role in the privatization of our military, issues the following statement in response to media reports on the Iraqi government's decision to ban Blackwater USA from working in the country:
"The latest fatal shooting of Iraqi civilians involving Blackwater, and the Iraqi government’s subsequent banning of Blackwater highlight the need for our own government to take action now to ensure U.S. contractors are held responsible for their criminal acts. According to numerous reports private contractor personnel implicated in previous violent incidents have been flown out of Iraq by their employers before a full investigation could be conducted, even when there were credible allegations of murder of innocent civilians. These acts that go by without justice being rendered undermine our international standing and tend to generate violent actions against our own soldiers.
One of the U.S. government's purposes in Iraq is to establish the rule of law. U.S. contract employees should not be allowed to avoid that very principle. Thus far, civilian contractors like Blackwater have not been held accountable to the same code of law followed by our military personnel. This means that victims have no access to justice, and human rights abuses go unpunished. In addition these actions take place while millions of U.S. tax payer dollars are paid to these same private firms.
We call on our U.S. Representatives to act now on comprehensive bills in the House and the Senate that would begin addressing the gap in accountability which now exists. We urge our representatives to support H.R. 897 introduced by Rep. Schakowsky of Illinois and similar legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Obama. We also ask that Congress take these shootings seriously and begin to withhold money from the private military firms being investigated for criminal acts of violence to innocent citizens of Iraq. We ask Congress to take this action on behalf of innocent Iraqi citizens who have no legal recourse to protect themselves, and for the sake of American soldiers who are placed in situations of increased danger due to the reckless actions of private contractors.
We also urge Illinois citizens to take a close look at the actions of Blackwater USA and to ask themselves if this is the kind of company we want training our local law enforcement at its new training facility, Blackwater North, in northwest Illinois. Blackwater is a company which has shown time and again a disregard for any law and they have put profit before human rights. It's time that Illinois take a comprehensive look at legislation that will regulate the actions of all such rogue companies operating on Illinois soil.
The No Private Armies campaign currently is focused on Blackwater USA's move to Illinois.
Blackwater Corporation employs private armies throughout the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and in the aftermath of Katrina. Investigative reporter and author Jeremy Scahill describes Blackwater as “a politically connected private army” that “has in effect declared its forces above the law” and has won nearly $1 billion in noncovert government contracts, many of them no-bid arrangements. Its 7,000 acre Moyock, North Carolina headquarters is the world’s largest private military base. Blackwater has been under Congressional investigation for shady subcontracts in Iraq for two years and civil litigation for wrongful deaths of four of its employees in Iraq is pending in North Carolina. The company continues to expand, however, recently opening another training facility in Illinois, planning a large facility in California and lobbying to move its forces into Darfur. Opening in Illinois in late March, Blackwater faces opposition from Clearwater, an ad hoc group of local and area individuals and peace, faith-based and environmental groups who want to shut Blackwater down in Illinois and in the U.S.
Clearwater was created in early 2007 by peace activists and local citizens, and expanded in April as a working group within the Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice. Clearwater is advancing the fight against Blackwater through a variety of means, including meeting with federal, state and county government officials, doing media work, and planning and publicizing author Jeremy Scahill’s book tour in Illinois for his best-selling investigative 2007 expose, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books.
We welcome your participation. To learn more or join the Clearwater group, contact Dan Kenney at