Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Being Blackwater

Something seems amiss with Blackwater, known now as XE--pronounced zee, the military government contractor with some $800 million dollars in government contracts. Today The New York Times reports that "Iraqi officials have long complained about what they have called indiscriminate gunfire by private security forces hired by Americans. The Iraqi government sought to revoke Blackwater's license to operate in the country in September 2007, after gunfire from a convoy killed 17 people, most of them civilians...Iraqi officials were adamant that private contractors no longer have immunity for their actions...In January 2009, the Iraqi government indicated it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license. The Iraqi government has sought in the past to expel Blackwater over concerns of inappropriate use of force."

Listening to Congresswoman Schakowsky, I was amazed. How is it that military contracts are given to any organization and it is not known what they are doing and how they are doing it? While the who (Blackwater) of the contract is important, what and how they are operating is equally as important. There have even been reports of unauthorized weapons being used. Are there any responsible governments or corporations who would allow free reign of any organization, contract or not? In "January 2009, the Iraqi government indicated it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license. The Iraqi government has sought in the past to expel Blackwater over concerns of inappropriate use of force."

According to The Nation "a former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

The reports by these men seem plausible, especially if consideration is given to his Christian right conservative rearing. NPR, reports that "Prince, the heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, has close ties to the Republican Party and conservative Christian groups. He began his career with a stint as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and co-founded Blackwater in 1997 with other former commandos. His family's wealth made it possible for the then 27-year-old Prince to fund the Blackwater start-up with his own money...Prince grew up in Holland, Mich., where his father, Edgar Prince, built Prince Corporation, an auto-parts company that based its success on novel products, such as the lighted vanity mirror for car window visors. The elder Prince was a close friend and supporter of Christian evangelists, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, as well as a contributor to the Republican Party. He was an early benefactor of the Family Research Council." Erik Prince is the brother-in-law of Richard Devos, heir to the Amway fortune, another Christian right conservative

The change of a name does not change a thing. We should want to know more about Blackwater, aka Xe, and demand that our government officials know what and how military government contractors are fulfilling their contractual agreement.


septembermom said...

Thanks for focusing on this issue today, Judith. It sounds like guerrilla warfare or the Wild West. Don't the Iraqi civilians have enough terror without a government contractor increasing their casualty numbers? I hope and pray that our government will quickly investigate these allegations and also bring guilty parties to justice. Judith, you are great at giving me some much needed information about what is going on in this world. I feel like I only get the chance to watch all the little ones' shows :)

Judith Ellis said...

Kelly - Growing up we were required to know what was going on nationally and internationally and be prepared to intelligently speak about a great many matters at dinner or after watching the nightly news. My interest in national and international happeningd has not waned.

Like you, I too hope that the investigations will happen quickly and if there is wrongdoing that justice will be served for the sake of innocent Iraqis and our intergrity of our country. But I am always concerned about the powerful getting off or receiving lighter sentences. What is equally unnerving here is that God is often evoked, as if He choses sides based on ethnicity instead of policy.

Your little ones are adorable and what a daily show they must perform!