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Recent New Coverage - updated 4/5/10

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
  • Force-on-force scenarios
  • 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.


House Dems Want to Phase Out Armed Contractors
Ryan Grim,
Huffington Post - 2/23/10
One morning, Uncle Sam woke up and his military had been privatized. There had been no national debate. No congressional action. No sweeping White House order. It just happened.

Today, the Pentagon employs more than 217,000 contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing the kind of work that enlisted military personnel would have performed in the past, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Now, there's a move in Congress to change that. On Tuesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which would make it the military's responsibility to use its own personnel to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, run military prisons and do military intelligence activity. more...

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.

"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."

BACKGROUND
Opinion of United States District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, 2009-12-31:
"Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq," New York Times, 2009-12-31
"FBI Concludes Blackwater Killings Unjustified," Washington Post, 2007-11-14

Citizens and Groups are invited to endorse the letter at
StopBlackwater.net

Link to : OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS
download pdf of OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS
download pdf of press release and OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS


10/18/09
Citizens of Highlands County Florida Fight A Blackwater Wannabe
By Dan Kenney

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.

The proposed 7,700 acre Eagle National Training Center that was under consideration near Venus Florida has for now been turned down on their attempt to secure zoning changes. The Highland County commissioners voted unanimously to not approve the requested zoning variances.

Opponents of the proposed private military and security training facility turned out in large numbers to speak out against the project. The citizens filled the meeting room and more waited outside. The meeting lasted for over 12 hours. It is unclear if the security center is a dead deal, the developer, Greg Eagle of the Ft. Meyers area isn’t saying. There is a good chance that it is and credit must go to the opponents who worked quickly and with determination to stop it.

The developers made many concessions to try and when over the local residents like giving up plans for a 6,000 foot runway and firing of large guns. But the citizens were not swayed. Many of the citizens voiced concern that Eagle was just purchasing the land but then would lease it to Blackwater (now known as Xe.)

But because Eagle lost this round it does not mean the fight is over. Eagle could come back in six months with a revised plan to try and fit into the present zoning requirements. Also De Soto County, one hour from Highlands, has let it be known that if Highlands didn’t want the training center they would take it. The promise of 1,000 jobs that Eagle has put out is very tempting in the present economic environment.

Also watch for another Eagle Training Center that may be coming to a neighborhood near you. According to a 10 year business plan that was submitted to the commissioners Eagle, following in Blackwater’s footsteps, plans to create twenty additional satellite training installations nationally. Their plan was to make the Florida location a headquarters. Their plan also included the training of foreign soldiers and police. It also mentioned the possibility of “flipping the property” to a larger private training company such as Blackwater.

It seems that many have seen the huge profits that companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, DynCorp, and others are making and have decided it is time to join them at the U.S. government privatization feeding trough.

Be on the watch for a private military security company near your home town.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 11, 2009
CONTACT:
Dan Kenney
815.793.0950

NoPrivateArmies Joins With the UN Working Group In
Calling On Honduras to Stop the Use of Mercenaries

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
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.

The U.S. Army, the Iraqi police, the FBI and the U.S. department of justice all investigated the incident and found no justification for the shooting. Today two years later the five contractors who were responsible for the murders are still free.

Other private military companies such Armor Group North America, CACI, Triple Canopy, and DynCorp to name only a few of the over 600 that are under contract to the U.S. government; have also been found to be involved in fraud, sex trafficking, arms smuggling, civilian murders, torture and other criminal activity. Still taxpayer money is being used to pay for these multi-million dollar contracts.

The noprivatearmies.org citizens group calls upon Congress to begin the work necessary to end our dependency upon these mercenary companies. The group urges Congress to give back to the military the responsibility of providing security and carrying out combat operations instead of outsourcing our security to these companies that operate in war zones for their personal profit.

How much longer must the families and loved ones of those gunned down in Nisour Square wait for justice?

UN Working Group Update
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.

Much time was spent discussing what the inherent rights of a state are. The discussion was focused in this way to try and determine when a state could and could not use mercenaries. One of the revealing statements by one of the UN Working group members, an ambassador from Russia said that right from the start it was never the working group nor the Human Rights Commission's intention to get rid of the PMSCs (mercenaries) but to come to an agreement with member states of the UN on how to regulate them and to put in place sanctions for states who violate the convention on PMSCs.

The working group started their work in 2005 and hope to have a final draft of the convention for the UN general assembly to consider by 2015. They feel they are nearing the half way mark on their work on this. This year they were studying the use of mercenaries in Afghanistan and the U.S. We were given the first draft of the convention to review and make comments on before September 30th. If anyone would like a copy let me know and I will send you one.

One of the good things to come out of the workshop for our work is a contact I made with Laura Raymond of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). As you may know a lawyer from their organization is leading the lawsuit in US courts against Blackwater on behalf of the families and victims of the Nisour Square shooting, as well as other Iraqi citizens who have been injured or had a loved one killed by Blackwater contractors. She said that the CCR plans to build a national campaign around the issue of pmscs this coming year and would like to work with noprivatearmies.org.

Also a curious thing was that the representative for IPOA was very friendly. He offered his assistance in anyway our group could use him etc. He also told me he was very glad when Blackwater withdrew from IPOA because it alleviated a lot of PR headaches for him.

I also got a copy of the DOD's latest guidelines related oversight of pmscs. The interim final rule will not actually go into affect until November or December and was probably was released because of the UN group's visit.

I could go on ... I took about ten pages of notes. Most of the discussions were very technical about specific language in the convention etc.

It was clear that the use of pmscs in Afghanistan is going to continue and that Afghanistan is the new private contractor gold mine.

Some of the key points the UN group released in their press statement dated 8/3/09, at the conclusion of their two week US visit were:

  1. Concern over the "lack of transparency" to the public of contracts and subcontracts between the U.S. and PMSCs.
  2. "The Working Group is greatly concerned that PMSCs contracted by US intelligence agencies are not subject to public scrutiny due to classified information. The Working Group believes the public should have the right to access information on the scope, type and value of those contracts."
  3. The Working Group calls on US prosecutors to play a more proactive role in investigating and prosecuting allegations of human rights violations."
  4. "The Working Group is concerned by the stated US policy intention to increase the number of private security contractors to match the surge in troops in Afghanistan." (Actually it was reported that we already have more private contractors than soldiers in Afghanistan.) Chairperson Shaista Shameem said, "We are particularly preoccupied that the use of PMSCs to protect US forward operating bases in most places in Afghanistan may further dilute the distinction between military and civilian personnel, an obligation under international humanitarian law. We are also alarmed by the trend towards an extensive privatization of war."
  5. The Working Group is also concerned by the recent objection expressed by the Administration to a prohibition in the 2010 defense funding bill of the use of contractor personnel from interrogating persons detained.
  6. Finally the WG called on the US authorities to engage constructively in the international process to draw up a convention to form an international framework for regulating the use of PMSCs.

Recommendations
The WG also made recommendations:

  1. Congress should adopt legislation that provides criminal jurisdiction over contractors and civilian employees.
  2. The Department of Justice should ensure prompt and effective investigation of any allegations of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute.
  3. When contracting the US government should ensure victims' right to an effective access to justice.
  4. The Department of Justice should promptly make public statistical information on the status of cases involving PMSCs.
  5. The US Government and Congress should press for further transparency and resist the use of State secrets privileges in court.
  6. The US Government should make public the number, names, number of personnel, weapons, vehicles, and the type of activities contracted to PMSCs.
  7. The US Government should regularly release statistics on the number of private military and security contractors injured or killed while supporting US operations.
  8. The US Government should establish a specific system of federal licensing of PMSCs and especially of their contracts for operations abroad.
  9. The US Government should put in place a vetting procedure before awarding contracts.
  10. And finally the US Government should launch investigations on the use of PMSCs on rendition flights.

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
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

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:

Obama’s Mercenary Position: A senior foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not “rule out” using private security companies like Blackwater. 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:

Blackwater Protestors Released Judge Russell Duke allowed the seven protestors to make a statement during the sentencing hearing. Read more:

Steve Baggarly: My Words To the Judge This a link to the words spoken to the judge by one of the seven arrested in North Carolina protest at Blackwater this past October. 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

NY Times: 2005 Use of Gas by Blackwater Leaves Questions: January 10th, 2008: US.S. soldiers report that on a May day in 2005 at a Baghdad checkpoint into the Green Zone, a Blackwater helicopter threw a canister of CS gas down onto the checkpoint. The CS gas dropped is a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with approval of top military commanders. 25 American soldiers were affected as well as many Iraqi citizens. The only provocation was the convoy Blackwater was guarding was being held up in the crowded traffic at the check point. Read More:

Christian Science Monitor: Private Security Contractors Look To Africa For Recruits: January 8,2008: Namibia kicked out two top officials of an international American security group that had plans to recruit thousands of former Namibian soldiers to work in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company, Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group (SOC-SMG) has the US Army and Marine Corps among its clients. Read More

National Journal: Private Military Industry Continues To Grow: January 9, 2008: This article in addition to describing how PMSCs cause threats to sovereignty it also gives a good overview of the history and rise of private armies. One section is entitled "Private Armies, Private Wars" It ends with this thought provoking quote by Deborah Avant, political science professor and director of international studies at the US of California at Irvine, " The big risk is not what the companies are going to do in and of themselves. The big risks are what the consumers are going to ask them to do." Avant is the author of The Market For Force. She has been invited to the conference in Madison at the end of this month. Read More:

Human Rights Watch: Iraq: Pass New Law Ending Immunity For Contractors: January 9,2008. This is a press release calling on Iraq's parliament to approve legislation to end immunity for foreign private security contractors. Human Rights Watch also urged the US government to prosecute American security contractors in US courts. Read More:

Institute For War & Peace: Private Security Firms Flooding Afghanistan: January 8, 2008: There are currently 60 private security companies in Afghanistan, employing between 18,000 and 25,000 men. But according to the Afghan government "many of these firms, often unlicensed and unregulated, are guility of some of the very crimes their clients hired them to protect them from, including armed robbery, kidnapping and murder." The ministry has shut down 10 private security firms and has conducted raids on several more in recent days. Read More:

Past Coverage

Chicago Tribune Exclusive - July 31, 2007
Blackwater -University of Illinois Tie
Tom Dempsey is under scrutiny for a link to military trainers
By E.A. Torriero and Jodi S. Cohen

The Virginian-Pilot - July 25, 2007
Blackwater Supports Inquiry Into Fatal Shooting
Bill Sizemore

Chicago Tribune - July 23, 2007
Anti-War Activists, Locals Are Wary About Military Contractor's New Training Site
E.A. Torriero,Tribune staff reporter

Jeremy Scahill
Presentation to residents of Elizabeth, Illinois in Jo Daviess County
You Tube

The Virginian-Pilot - May 20, 2007
Suit against Blackwater over contractor deaths moves to arbitration

Interviews with Jeremy Scahill
YouTube
At Center Network

ABC7Chicago - Wednsesday, May 2, 2007
Blackwater Rising
The world's most controversial security service is now open for business in Illinois. But is Blackwater, Inc. looking to make Illinois an outpost for what has been called the world's largest private army?

Freeport Journal Standard April 25, 2007
Residents organize to oppose Blackwater

Jeremy Scahill's Democracy Now Interview with Amy Goodman - Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

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