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Recent New Coverage - updated 4/5/10
Home Defense: A New Blackwater Course of Special Interest to Christian Warriors
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.)
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:
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.
House Dems Want to Phase Out Armed Contractors
Dismissal of Case Against Blackwater Contractors Condemned
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.
"Considering all of the millions of tax payer dollars that have gone into funding Blackwater, as well as paying for all of the various investigations into their illegal and unethical activities, the citizens of the United States deserve to know the truth," said Dan Kenney, co-coordinator of No Private Armies.
"The latest allegations of Blackwater/Xe personnel having committed murder again, this time in Afghanistan, underscores the fact that this mercenary is still unregulated, out of control and an ongoing liability to the interests of the United States and its legitimate military personnel," Christian Stalberg said, coordinator of "Xe Watch" at the site of Xe/Blackwater headquarters in North Carolina. "The fact that the world sees Blackwater/Xe as literally having gotten away with murder sends the worst possible message about justice and the rule of law, i.e. that we're hyprocrites. Why Congress doesn't act can only mean that now the legislative branch of government oversight has been compromised. We already know that the executive branch has...that is a forgone conclusion."
"We worked hard to stop Blackwater from expansion in San Diego County and we learned about the character of the company, and the fact that it is simply a mistake to deploy these for-profit forces into the theater of battle around the world," Raymond Lutz said, coordinator of Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs), operator of the StopBlackwater.net website. Lutz worked with the community to stop the 824-acre training camp in Potrero (near San Diego) to limit their expansion in Otay Mesa along the Cal-Mex border, and most recently to stop the Blackwater/Xe contract with Southwestern College District. "We must pull the funding on war profiteers like Blackwater. We must stop them for good."
The Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership of the United States Naval Academy held a conference in April, 2009, entitled "Ethics and Military Contractors: Examining the Public-Private Partnership" and their researchers slammed the use of private contractors. Stockdale Center of Ethics Fellow Dr. Susan Marble Barranca said (regarding private military contractors) "Respectfully, the question should not be why should they not allowed to continue to operate, but why have they been allowed to operate at all."
Citizens and Groups are invited to endorse the letter at
Many “Blackwater wannabes” have been sprouting up around the country this past year. Proposed large private training centers have been brought to my attention from California, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and Florida. The one in Ohio was defeated by citizens. The ones in California and Virginia are still being fought.
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.
We, members of NoPrivateArmies group, urge the Honduran authorities to end the use of private military within the country and investigate the reports of their presence. We also urge the Obama administration to join with the international community in condemning the use of hired guns in Honduras.
We also call upon our president and the current administration to prepare plans for ending our own government’s dependency upon private military and security contractors (PMSCs). The U.S. government now has more PMSCs working in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. soldiers. Experience has demonstrated that whenever security and the use of force have been outsourced to private military contractors human rights are too often violated for the sake of profit.
The use of private military or mercenaries has increased to over $100 billion per year business around the world. Fortune 500 companies, weak states, and even radical groups involved in government overthrows hire these companies like Blackwater (Xe), CACI, Triple Canopy, DynCorps, and hundreds of others to do the work that was once reserved for standing armies serving at the will of governments. Now security in Honduras and around the world is moving into the hands of hired guns that work for those who can afford to pay the highest price. This is not the environment that the vulnerable citizens of Honduras need during this time of crisis.
Two Years Still No Justice
UN Working Group Update
Noprivatearmies.org can draw from these recommendations for a focus on how we can move forward on the national level. We can urge Congress to adopt some of these recommended practices and address the UN Working Groups’ concerns.
Submitted by: Dan Kenney
Xe is the Problem
Blackwater gets new Iraq contract from U.S. Deal is renewed for a year while FBI investigates fatal shootings. The U.S. State Department has agreed to renew Blackwater USA's license to protect diplomats in Baghdad for one year while the FBI investigates a 2007 incident in which the company's guards are accused of killing 17 Iraqis. Read more
Senator Clinton Cosponsors Legislation to Ban Use of Private Security Contractors: A day after Jeremy Scahill’s story went live on The Nation.com, Senator Clinton, whose staff refused for a week to answer his questions about her position released this statement. The timing is interesting considering her do or die Tuesday coming up on the 4th. Read More:
Blackwater Probe Enters New Phase: The Associated Press reported on the 22nd of February that the U.S. authorities investigating Blackwater Worldwide are returning to Baghdad to revisit the scene of the September shooting. Read More:
Making A Living With A Gun: This article from the Fiji Times documents how since the 1970s the impoverished country of Fiji has positioned itself as a “discount-soldier surplus store. “Private armies became a viable commercial enterprise the moment America invaded Iraq,” says a retired Fiji colonel and director of Security Support Limited, the biggest of the country’s six mercenary employment agencies. Read More:
Erik Prince To Release Book This Summer: Erik Prince, the founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide will defend his company in a new book due out this summer. Tentative title: We Are Blackwater. Read More:
Blackwater Central To Upcoming Talks with Iraqi Ambassador: The Iraqi ambassador to the US, Samir Sumaidaie said that the role and status of private security firms like Blackwater will be central to upcoming talks between Washington and Baghdad. Read More:
Afghan Begin Crackdown On Private Security Guards: The government says it is trying to control illegal weapons and improve the regulation of an industry that has grown from nothing in 2001 to at least 60 companies employing almost 30,000 people. Read More:
U.S. Cannot Manage Contractors In Wars, Officials Testify To Congress Now that there are more private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq than U.S. military personnel the government can’t begin to keep up to do oversight. Jack Bell, deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics reported that there are now over 196,000 contractor personnel working for the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more:
Unisys Predicts Five Security Issues Likely To Emerge Across Multiple Industries in 2008 This is a business article that gives you a view of one way the security business grows its market. Read more:
Blackwater Sues Wiley Rein for $30 Million Blackwater security filed a $30 million malpractice suit against Wiley Rein on Wednesday, alleging that the firm made costly missteps in a wrongful death case brought on behalf of four former Blackwater employees who were killed in Iraq in 2004. Read more:
A Look Into the Role of Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and DynCorp in Plan Colombia This article takes an in depth role into private military, security firms and Plan Colombia. Read more
Blackwater Employees Honored By the American Red Cross for their Blood Drives What can I say about this one. Just that life presents ironies that no one could even dream of. Read more:
Military Contractors Are Hard to Fire ITT Federal Services International, a defense contractor hired to maintain battle gear for U.S. troops in Iraq, repeatedly failed to do the job right while collecting $638 million since October of 2004. Read more:
U.S. To Insist Iraq’s Government Guarantee Civilian Contractors Specific Legal Protections 1/24/08 - The New York Times reports that the international mandate for the U.S. is about to expire in 11 months, but the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the U.S. broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors protection from Iraqi law. Read more
Activists to Appear In Court to Appeal Conviction 1/24/08: The seven activists arrested in North Carolina during a protest at Blackwater headquarters are back in court to appeal their convictions. The protestors say they were denied their constitutional right to a public trial. Read more
ACLU of North Carolina Asks North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission To Investigate Protestors’ Trial 1/7/08: The North Carolina ACLU has asked for the investigation because the District Judge held a significant portion of the trial behind closed door. The judge cleared the courtroom of the public and AP reporters. ACLU NC legal director said if this is true than the protestors’ right to a public trial guaranteed by the 1st and 6th amendments to the Constitution was violated. Read more
To read the ACLU-NC’s letter to the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission: Click here
Former Blackwater Employees Sentenced 1/10/08: Two former Blackwater employees were sentenced to probation on gunrunning charges. They were granted leniency because they have been helping federal investigators for more than a year. Read more
French President Negotiates With Saudi Arabia On Behalf of French Security Contractors 1/14/08: Sarkozy talked with Saudi leaders about defense contracts for French companies worth 10 billion euros to monitor Saudi Arabia’s borders. Read more
Obama Investigates Blackwater Using Tear Gas on U.S. Troops 1/15/08: Senator Obama sent a letter to Defense Secretary Gates calling on him to respond to the NY Times report that Blackwater guards had used CS gas on civilians and U.S. troops at a checkpoint in 2005. Click onto read more for a copy of the letter as well. Read more
Justice Department Running into Legal Obstacles with Blackwater Case 1/16/08: Justice Departments says it is running into “serious legal difficulties” in pursuing criminal prosecutions of Blackwater security guards involved in the Sept. shooting of Iraqi citizens. No surprise here however it is further verification of what we had thought all along. Read more
Human Rights First Finds Will to Prosecute Contractors Lacking 1/17/08: The executive director of Human Rights First said, “The biggest obstacle is not law, but political will.” Isn’t that the truth! Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/917/v-print/story/886015.html
NY Times Names One of the Blackwater Shooters 1/18/08: Paul Slough, 28, of Dickens Texas has been identified as the “turret gunner No. 3” of the Sept. shooting of Iraqi citizens. Less than a month after the shooting friends saw him at a tailgate party outside a Texas Tech football game in Lubbock. Read more
AP Exclusive: Repairs to Blackwater Convoy Vehicles Could Complicate Baghdad Inquiry. January 13th : " Blackwater Worldwide repaired and repainted its trucks immediately after a deadly September shooting in Baghdad, making it difficult to determine whether enemy gunfire provoked the attack..." The article also says that Anne Tyrell said "any repairs would have been done at the government's direction." The state department would not comment on whether it ordered the repairs to the vehicles involved in the shooting. Read More
Chicago Tribune Exclusive - July 31, 2007
The Virginian-Pilot - July 25, 2007
Chicago Tribune - July 23, 2007
The Virginian-Pilot - May 20, 2007
ABC7Chicago - Wednsesday, May 2, 2007
Freeport Journal Standard April 25, 2007
Jeremy Scahill's Democracy Now Interview with Amy Goodman - Tuesday, March 20, 2007