Meet Blackwater, with its own military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, and twenty thousand troops at the ready. Run by a "billionaire right-wing fundamentalist Christian" from a powerful Michigan Republican family. Erik Prince (below) neo- conservative who bankrolls President Bush and his allies, his personal armed forces are reportedly capable of overthrowing governments.
Blackwater USA consists of nine separate business units: Blackwater Training Center (the largest private firearms and tactical training center in the U. S.), Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Security Consulting, Blackwater Canine, Maritime Security, manufacturing of custom Armored Vehicles, Parachute Jump Team, Aviation, and Raven Development Group. They also have relationships with strategic partners, Aviation Worldwide Services and Greystone Ltd.
Private military security firm Blackwater Worldwide (as it is now known) was started in 1997 as Blackwater USA primarily by Prince along with Al Clark and Gary Jackson, ( former Navy SEAL.) Erik Prince is another former Navy SEAL, who attended the Naval Academy, and for a period of time he interned in the White House under President George H.W. Bush and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992. .
Unlike the American Army and indeed the US Marine Corps whom maintain a very stringent standard code of conduct, Blackwater operate on a purely commercial principle of "guns for hire" to the highest bidder via a contract system of engagement, and the heirachy of command though based on the Military standard is not adhered to as strictly as would be under Dept of Defense standards.
According to the Founder Erik Prince:" We are not simply a "private security company." We are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations firm who provides turnkey solutions. We assist with the development of national and global security policies and military transformation plans. We can train, equip and deploy public safety and military professionals, build live-fire indoor/outdoor ranges, MOUT facilities and shoot houses, create ground and aviation operations and logistics support packages, develop and execute canine solutions for patrol and explosive detection, and can design and build facilities both domestically and in austere environments abroad... "
Perhaps not coincidentally, Prince is also a major financial supporter of Republican Party causes and candidates. Blackwater is often referred to as a mercenary organisation even though they also train Police, various US Dept agencies and some military units in urban tactical warfare tactics on their North Carolina compound. Boasting that they train up to 40,000 personnel a year, the training encompasses bodyguard training, personal security measures, guarding of installations, and both military style offensive and defensive strategies.
12. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (Dulles and Reagan National Airports)
13. St. Louis County Police (Missouri)
14. Queen Anne's County, Maryland Police
15. Prince George's County, Maryland Police
16. FBI SWAT Team
17. Gloucester Township, New Jersey Police
18. Tempe, Arizona Police
19. New York Police Department
20. Yonkers, New York Police
21. Fairfax County, Virginia Police
22. Maplewood, New Jersey Police
23. Gastonia, North Carolina Police
24. Tampa Police
25. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
26. DeKalb County, Georgia Police
27. Arlington County, Virginia Police
28. Baltimore Police
29. U.S. Coast Guard
30. Suffolk, Virginia Police
31. Franklin City, Virginia Police
32. Milford, Delaware Police
33. University of Texas Police
34. Norfolk, Virginia Police
35. Ottawa-Carleton, Canada Police
36. San Bernardino County, California Sheriff
37. Plattsburgh, New York Police
38. Chicago Police Department
39. Oregon State Police
40. Los Angeles Police Department
41. Tonawanda, New York Police
42. Special Forces of Colombia
43. Jacksonville, North Carolina Police
44. Harvey Cedars, New Jersey Police
45. Elmira, New York Police
46. Department of Corrections, New Jersey
47. Lexington, Kentucky Police
48. Willimantic, Connecticut Police
49. Georgia Department of Law Enforcement
50. City of Fairfax, Virginia Police
51. Alexandria, Virginia Police Special Operations
52. Illinois State Police
53. Dallas, Texas Police
54. Hamilton, Ohio Police
It was not only Americans that Blackwater were training, In 2007 according to UnjustMedia: "Blackwater has a contract of training 15,000 commandos for Iraq. In 2003 the American Defense Department made a contract worth $7.35 million for the training of 10,000 commandos. The price for the remaining 5,000 will be set in June this year. Including Chile, Blackwater will engage young people from South Africa, Italy, Brazil, Afghanistan, and from some of the Central Asian countries. The company is also training naval personnel from Virginia, Texas, and California in combat, but it is still not clear where these commandos will be deployed."
Situated near the border of Virginia on a huge wetland area, the total area takes in almost 6000 acres of swamp land which has large amounts of a very prominent dark sludge on the property. This substance fittingly is where Blackwater draws its name.
The "need" for such a security contractor within the field in Iraq is argued with the point that the U.S. military is limited in size and that there have been difficulties in maintaining the elevated troop levels George W Bush requires to maintain his boots on the ground numbers across all current theatres . Enter Blackwater. A private company which was initially under no such "code of conduct" for military behaviour on a battlefield nor did it feel obliged by accepted "rules of engagement" under Geneva conventions.
In August 2003, Blackwater was awarded a $21 million no-bid contract to guard Paul Bremer, and U.S. agencies have been tapping the Blackwater well ever since. By 2006 the company had about 1,000 contractors in Iraq.
Other players also have rushed in to meet the demand. In early 2007 , the US Government estimated that there were at least 180 security companies operating in Iraq with more than 48,000 employees - the largest private military deployment in history.
Although Blackwater is a US company there is a substantial legal grey area as to what if any US laws Blackwater are limited by whilst operating overseas both under contract from US Govt. and/or under contract by international entities. This legal area would be tested in September 2007.
It was shortly after this event in October 2007 that Blackwater USA changed their company title to Blackwater WorldWide and re-designed their symbol as less "threatening" by merely reducing the actual size of their corporate logo .
Blackwater is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors with at least 90 percent of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts. Blackwater Worldwide is currently contracted by the United States government to provide security services in the Iraq region, including diplomat security, installation security and more and more encroaching on the traditional role of the Military within the invaded country of Iraq.
From May 2008 : Blackwater unlikely to face charges in Iraq shooting
The Associated PressPublished: May 9, 2008
WASHINGTON: Blackwater Worldwide, the security contractor blamed by an angry Iraqi government for the shooting deaths of 17 civilians, is not expected to face criminal charges — all but ensuring the company will keep its multimillion-dollar contract to protect U.S. diplomats.
Apart from patrolling the streets of New Orleans directly after the Katrina tragedy, Blackwater have also picked up contracts given by the Department of Defense Counter-Narcotics Technology Program Office in a five-year contract for equipment, material and services in support of counter-narcotics activities. The contract is worth up to $15 billion. They have also had contracts to air-drop supplies to troops in the field in Afghanistan.
Blackwater USA has also been contracted by various foreign governments. In 2005, it worked to train the Naval Sea Commando regiment of Azerbaijan, enhancing their interdiction capabilities on the Caspian Sea. In Asia, Blackwater has contracts in Japan guarding AN/TPY-2 radar systems.
There has been never the less questions raised about the validity of BLACKWATER and the influence from the steady rise of the "gaming generation" who are fixated by a glamorous view of mercenaries from their Playstation and X-Box gaming consoles. In an age where entertainment and reality is so blurred we start to see "1st person shootem -up" games take on a whole new perspective.
A case in point is the US$15 poster available from Blackwater Worldwide Enterprises which looks similar in nature to the X-BOX game cover: Mercenaries : Playground of Destruction.
Some young adults might find it difficult to distinguish which one is actually the game and which is the poster glamorizing the modern combat situation. As poignantly pointed out by NoCaption needed:"The only thing missing in this “mock” movie poster is the star power of a Bruce Willis or Keifer Sutherland."
The line between real life and Hollywood just got a little blurrier.
"U.S. government officials who have overseen the controversial Blackwater security firm's activities in Iraq are slated to receive thousands of dollars in performance bonuses, despite controversy surrounding the company.
A State Department document obtained by ABC News shows Diplomatic Security officials Kevin Barry and Justine Sincavage will receive between $10,000 and $15,000 for their "outstanding performance." Barry and Sincavage, who managed Blackwater's contract for the department, recently received promotions as well, ABC News reported in October"
Although they have kept relatively quiet and out of the headlines since the turmoil surrounding events in 2007, there has certainly been strong criticism and vocal support building against Blackwater and none more vocal than thenation columnist and author: Jeremy Scahill
His recent release:Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army , has gone to one of New York's bestseller lists.
This is the unauthorized story of the epic rise of one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex.
Jeremy has been one of THE most vocal critics and outspoken jouranlists against the Blackwater mercenary phenomenons to date.
As Jeremy points out in his June article :
"If there is one quality that is evident from examining Blackwater's business history, it is the company's ability to take advantage of emerging war and conflict markets. "
In this video, Jeremy explains what BLACKWATER are All about...
In this video, George W Bush avoids answering a very intelligent question about Blackwater legalities by acting very stupid.
Jeremy Scahill talks about Blackwaters beginnings Part 1...
Jeremy Scahill talks about Blackwaters beginnings Part 2...
Interview with Jeremy Scahill on DemocracyNow.org TV
Jeremy Scahill recalls the New Orleans - Katrina tragedy and Blackwater involvement
An extract from theNation article: " In the two weeks directly following Nisour Square, Blackwater signed more than $144 million in contracts with the State Department for "protective services" in Iraq and Afghanistan alone and, over the following weeks and months, won millions more in contracts with other federal entities like the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center."
Blackwater's Iraq contract was extended in April, but the company is by no means betting the house on its long-term presence there. While the firm is quietly maintaining its Iraq work, it is aggressively pursuing other business opportunities.
In September it was revealed that Blackwater had been "tapped" by the Pentagon's Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office to compete for a share of a five-year, $15 billion budget "to fight terrorists with drug-trade ties." According to the Army Times, the contract "could include antidrug technologies and equipment, special vehicles and aircraft, communications, security training, pilot training, geographic information systems and in-field support." A spokesperson for another company bidding for the work said that "80 percent of the work will be overseas."
Pursuing "other business opportunities" indeed.
BLACKWATER have branched out into making handgun Firearms
DYNCORP & BLACKWATER MURDERING AROUND THE WORLD FOR MONEY
BLACKWATER THESE ARE THE GUYS THE GOVERMENT IS GOING TO USE TO COME
GET THOSE OF US WHO REFUSE TO BOW TO THE GOVERMENT.BLACKWATER WILL BE
THE ONES MAKING THE 3AM WAKE UP CALL DRAGGING US OUT OUR HOUSE OR
APARTMENTS GET READY FOLKS IT'S COMING!
A Very Private War ACTUAL COUNT 140,000BLACKWATER BEING USED
There are 48,000 'security contractors' in Iraq, working for private
companies growing rich on the back of US policy. But can it be a good
thing to have so many mercenaries operating without any democratic
OK, so you say you're a former Jar-Head and you now wear multicam for
a Department of State Security Contractor: but why do you call
yourself an Operator?
As a buzzword, the title of "Operator" is being thrown around as if it
means something more important that it is. "I'm an Operator for the
defense department" he said.
"Operator of what?" I asked. "What are you, some kind of smart-ass? I
kill people for a living" he answered. Holly shit, then you're nothing
more than a glorified assassin" I continued. "No, I only kill those
who need to be killed" came in response.
I'm at a private security contractor firearms training school upstate
near Valhalla. The individual I'm conversing with is wearing enough of
the obligatory 5-11 queer gear to have been the centerfold of the
"So, you've been in the shit. Have you a lot of bodies on your soul?"
I queried. "I've killed my fair share" he piped up. "So are you
shipping out soon?" I offered. "One more week of wake-up and I'm off
to the sand box." I had enough, turned and walked away.
Following is some available information about the security companies
in Afghanistan: Aegis, Armorgroup, Blackwater, Dyncorp, Gardaworld,
Global Strategies, Khawar, Olive, Mallat, Olympus, Paul Grimes,
Saladin, SOC-SMG, SIG, USPI, Watan and Caps.
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