Dystopia 9: The Blackwaters

The Blackwaters:

Jack did not approach Liassi for another 2 days. He did not quite know what to say to her. Two days of grunting at people and pantomiming everything wore him down, and in the end he knew he would try again with her. On the morning of the third day he woke to find the water truck missing.  This filled him with anxiety as water was their only lifeline. He seemed to be the only one concerned, however.  In fact the day more or less started like any other day.  They ate breakfast and went to the fields as always.  There was not so much as excited chatter.  Apparently his host knew that the truck would be missing today and was unconcerned.

At lunchtime Jack decided he had to approach Liassi or go mad. He took his lunch, beans rolled in a type of flat bread which was referred to as a burrito, to the tree where Liassi sat on her blanket.

He sat next to her munching on his burrito for a few moments and trying to think of a way to approach her. She had already finished her burrito and was sipping tea. She offered him the scornful look she reserved for him alone, but did not get up and walk away. This alone seemed encouraging to Jack. Jack was not a particularly gregarious creature and had never been introduced to any of the social graces. He finally decided the best way was the direct way.

“Tell me how it happened.” Jack said in a quiet, smooth voice. He did not look at her, preferring instead to stare somewhere between the dirt in front of his feet and the half consumed burrito in his hand.

She turned to look at him for a long moment with the same unreadable expression on her face she had had during their last meeting.

He lifted his head when the silence grew long. Her face was impassive as she read his expression. Finally, she seemed satisfied with what she saw there.

“I was taken to Fort Jenna to serve the Kohnstamm Family shortly after dey arrived here.  I was 7 years old. I was a kitchen servant. You would not believe the food dat dey waste!

“I learned English from dem. And I started to listen to deir conversations when dey ate.  Den I met…” she glanced at him briefly and caught herself, “someone…someone in de resistance. Eventually I became a spy for de Revolution. I began to tell de Pu’âha…de Rebels…what dey needed to know to steal from the Gringos.  Where de weapons were, where de water was.  De Kohnstamms found out dat I was giving away deir secrets. Den dey wanted me to tell dem where the Pu’âha army was.”  She looked away and continued in a whisper, “Dey hurt me so I would tell them.”

“Did you? Did you tell them?” his voice was strained but gentle.

“No! Of course not.”

“Then why did they allow you to leave?”

“They did not allow me to leave.” She sneered. “I escaped.”

This genuinely surprised him. “How…how did you get away?”

She smiled at him. A gesture that looked foreign on her face, “Now I can not tell you all of our secrets.”

Jack did not think he had been told any of their secrets.

It was then that they heard the sound of a truck engine and men whooping their excitement.  The water truck appeared down the back of the ravine driving slowly and swaying over the rough terrain, heavy with water.  The village got up almost as one and raced over to greet the men driving the truck.  Men who were hanging off of the sides of the truck with rifles slung over their shoulders jumped off and raced to hug and kiss their women.  The driver pulled the truck into it’s accustom place and got out.  It was José.  Epi greeted José and began to have a conversation with him.  It was clear several minutes into the conversation that Epi was displeased with something and José began to shout his response.  What caught Jack’s attention was the one English word in the conversation, “Blackwater”.  Epi shouted back and José shoved Epi’s shoulder.  Epi glared at José. He uttered one word to José and then stalked away.

Jack turned to Liassi, “What was that about?”

“My brother is an idiot.”  She said and walked toward Epi.

“Your brother?”  Jack said to no one in particular.


Several unremarkable days went by.  Jack ate, slept, worked and had brief conversations with Liassi.  He learned that woman is kuña and chicken is ryguasu ra’y.

Jack was near sleep during asaje on the forth day after the return of the truck, when he heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire in the distance.  At first his fatigued mind incorporated it into his dream and for a moment he was lying on the ground at the refinement station.  But as the sounds of battle came closer his sleep disappeared and he sat up disoriented.  He had fallen asleep near Liassi and she was also sitting up and rubbing her eyes.  Another round of gunfire sounded and shouting in English and in Guarani. Both Liassi and Jack snapped their heads in the direction of the sound.

Jack had not had much military training but what he had kicked in at the sound of the gunfire. Now as Liassi stood to look in the direction of the gunfire Jack looked up on the ridge and noticed that the sentry was missing. Who ever was bringing the gun fight would over run them in minutes.  In the heat of battle he doubted that they would notice his fairer complexion and he was as likely to be shot as any of the others. He watched as several of the men went running to the end of the compound with guns to defend their families. The gunfire, which was now much closer, sounded like modern weapons. With the guns the rebels had they would not last long. Jack started to run in the opposite direction. He had noticed a crevice in the compound too small for storage or a home, but deep enough and dark enough for hiding. He reached it without anyone noticing and began to back into it.  It was too narrow to turn around once you were in it.

The sound of gunfire was immediately closer. People began to run by the crevice.  Liassi ran by and without thinking he darted out of his hiding place and grabbed her by the wrist. He pulled her toward the crevice and pushed her in.  Then he squeezed himself in after her. He could hear her panting and smell the fear rising off of her skin. He continued to watch out the crevice. José ran through Jack’s field of view, stumbled and skidded forward as though he had been pushed. He lay face down in the dust and did not move again. Jack was glad that Liassi could not see over his shoulder.  The gunfight went on for only about twenty minutes and then there was silence.

There was a brief pause and then there were voices.

“Secure those bunkers. Make sure we are not walking into an ambush.”

English.  Definitely Blackwaters! All Jack had to do was walk out with his hands over his head and he could go home. He could go back to his job and secure water and food. He half stood in the small crevice but then heard a rustle behind him. He strained to look behind himself and cursed.

She crouched in the dim light breathing fast with her fingertips digging into the sides of the crevice. Her eyes were wide with terror and she was covered in a cold sweat. If he left now they would see the crevice. They would find her. The people who had so harmed her would get a second chance to punish her for her escape. Could he do that to her?

Jack measured his options.  He weighed the taste of familiar food and a comfortable bed.  Companionship with men who spoke English.  The taverns with beer and willing women.  Then Jack saw in his minds eye the ruined flesh of Liassi’s back.  The dead body of his father as they buried him.  Dead at the hands of a Blackwater.

No. He could not do it. He had rescued her completely on impulse and now she was likely to get them both killed.  What on Earth had he been thinking when he had reached for her?

He crouched back down slowly. Cursing himself. He would have to get her to safety and then come back quickly before they moved on. He would cook up some story about being held hostage and escaping and then he would go back to his comfortable existence.

As he crouched back down, Liassi stared at him. Her breath was uneven and he could nearly hear her heart beating. As he relaxed back into the crevice and prepared himself for a long vigil of waiting for the correct moment to escape, her breathing slowed and she stared at him in disbelief.

They sat silently in the crevice as they listened to the Blackwaters ransack the compound. They ate the food and apparently found the small stash of home made beer. Jack thought that was a lucky break for them. It would make their escape possible instead of improbable. Jack waited until dark. He knew the Blackwaters would have sentries of their own and he listened to their instruction trying to picture where they were and which way he and Liassi should run for safety. The sentries were placed on the cliffs above and one was to patrol the main thoroughfare of the compound.

Jack thought that the sentries above were unlikely to be able to see them if they were careful in their flight. He would have to avoid the compound sentry though. Luckily the sentry passed by the crevice as he walked up and down the thoroughfare. Jack began to mentally time how long it took the guard to complete the circuit. The guard was obviously distraught about not being invited to the party with the beer and he muttered to himself.  Jack continued to wait listening to the rowdy singing and joking in the distance. Somewhere in the background a game of chance was going on with much laughing and cursing. Jack continued to wait.

Slowly the sounds of celebration receded into the sounds of sleep. The ground sentry was replaced by a new guard who walked slower than the first but was just as disinterested in the job. He staggered briefly as he passed Jack’s crevice. Jack decided that their time had come. The guard would never be more drunk than he was now. With some difficulty in the tight space he reached back and groped in the dark for Liassi. He touched her forehead first and her head snapped up. She had dosed off. Quickly he moved to place his finger tips over her mouth but she made no sound. When his fingertips touched her lips she only nodded her understanding.

Jack watched as the guard passed by. He then counted in his head. When he reached 40 he rose slowly from his crouch and glided stiffly out of their protected position. Liassi followed. Jack continued to count in his head as he trotted alone the canyon toward the back of the compound. At once he noticed that Liassi was not behind him.

He looked over his shoulder. Liassi was standing over José.  Tears were streaming down her face. Jack had been staring at the corpse for so long he had actually forgotten.  Another critical error.  Had he just grown stupid in his time here?  He trotted back to grab her arm. He could feel her trembling as he did so.  He pulled her viciously toward the back of the canyon. Now was not the time for a funeral. To her credit she did not struggle against his hand but she did stumble as he yanked her arm and one sob escaped her as she stumbled forward.  Then she was running with him. Matching his speed.

Jack ducked briefly into his sleeping quarters, the storage room.  Out of the empty crate in the back he grabbed a pack with supplies and water he had stored there.  Then they were off again.

They were near the back of the canyon when a piece of the wall flew off near Liassi’s head.  Two more explosions occurred in the ground in front of them.  The drunken guard had made the circuit a little early.  Luckily the beer was interfering with his aim.  In the dark and at a distance Jack knew he would not be recognized as one of them.  He was at the moment as much a fugitive as Liassi.

They picked up their pace and the guard shouted for help. Fortunately, help was slow to come. Jack continued to run down the canyon.  The canyon was unfamiliar as he had never been allowed out of the camp and Liassi over took him.  At a fork in the ravine, as Jack was about to run down the wider side, Liassi gasped, “No.  Here.” And took off down the narrower route.  A few yards up the new canyon there was a large boulder.  She ran around the boulder.  Behind was a small hole in the wall of the canyon.  She got to her hand and knees and nearly dove into the hole.  Jack followed suit.

Inside the hole the cave opened to a modest chamber.  Within minutes they could hear the Blackwaters searching for them.  Liassi was crouching near him.  She was gasping for breath and her hair was stuck to her face.  He could smell the sweat and fear coming off of her again.  And he could smell something else…blood.

The Concepts behind the Fiction:

1.  The Protections of the Past

We have benefited for centuries form lawmakers who were simply brilliant and consciencious.  They learned early in our history that this country would be at risk for take over by every strong man to come along.  So they built fail safes into our system.  They made it impossible for the army that defended the nation to be turned against it with Posse Comitatus.  I wrote specifically about this law in a previous entry.  Of course, the Bush administration ignored this law and since this action has not been challenged the law is now in question.

To defend us from enemies on our own soil, they created the National Guard. The Guard is controlled by the governor of the state in which they reside.  So to control the whole Guard you would have to convince all of the governors to work together.

The Bush administration was not satisfied with merely violating Posse Comitatus.  They had to create an army that would be outside this system.  Outside the control of The People.

2.  The Corporation Formerly Known as  Blackwater

Even seasoned muckrackers like Bill Moyers turn to Jeremy Scahill as the expert in military contractors.  He interviewed Mr. Scahill last night and the intreview was so good that I am including the entire interview here:

BILL MOYERS:  How do explain this spike in private contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan?  

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I think what we’re seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era. Right now there are 250 thousand contractors fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s about 50 percent of the total US fighting force. Which is very similar to what it was under Bush. In Iraq, President Obama has 130 thousand contractors. And we just saw a 23 percent increase in the number of armed contractors in Iraq. In Afghanistan there’s been a 29 percent increase in armed contractors. So the radical privatization of war continues unabated under Barack Obama.

Having said that, when Barack Obama was in the Senate he was one of the only people that was willing to take up this issue. And he put forward what became the leading legislation on the part of the Democrats to reform the contracting industry. And I give him credit for doing that. Because he saw this as an important issue before a lot of other political figures. And spoke up at a time when a lot of people were deafeningly silent on this issue. I’ve been critical of Obama’s position on this because I think that he accepts what I think is a fundamental lie. That we should have a system where corporations are allowed to benefit off of warfare. And President Obama has carried on a policy where he has tried to implement greater accountability structures. We now know, in a much clearer way than we did under Bush, how many contractors we have on the battlefield. He’s attempted to implement some form of rules governing contractors. And it has suggested that there should be greater accountability when they do commit crimes.

All of these things are a step in the right direction. But, ultimately, I think that we have to look to what Jan Schakowsky, the congresswoman from Illinois, says. We can no longer allow these individuals to perform what are inherently governmental functions. And that includes carrying a weapon on U.S. battlefields. And that’s certainly not where President Obama is right now.

BILL MOYERS: But many people will say of course, the truth, which is he inherited a quagmire from the Bush administration. What’s he to do?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, there’s no question that Obama inherited an absolute mess from President Bush. But the reality is that Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan right now. And is maintaining the occupation of Iraq. If Obama was serious about fully ending the occupation of Iraq, he wouldn’t allow the U.S. to have a colonial fortress that they’re passing off as an embassy in Baghdad. Bill, this place is the size of 80 football fields. Who do you think is going to run the security operation for this 80 football field sized embassy? Well, it’s mercenary contractors.

BILL MOYERS: So we’re supposed to be withdrawing from Iraq. But you’re suggesting, in all that you’ve written, that I’ve read lately, that we will be leaving a large mercenary force there.

JEREMY SCAHILL:Absolutely. In fact, you’re going to have a sizable presence, not only of U.S. forces, certainly in the region, but also in Iraq. These residual forces… I mean, Bill, you remember, during Vietnam, the people who were classified as military advisors. Or analysts. And, in reality, the U.S. was fighting an undeclared war. So, in Iraq, I think that we’ve seen reports from Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News’ Pentagon correspondent. He’s quoting military sources saying that they expect to be in Iraq 15 to 20 years in sizable numbers. Afghanistan, though, really is going to become Obama’s war. And, unfortunately, many Democrats are portraying it as the good war.

BILL MOYERS:  Let me show you a snippet of what he said in Cairo on Thursday.  Take a look:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Make no mistake. We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, we have two parallel realities here. We have the speeches of President Obama. I’m not questioning his sincerity. And then you have the sort of official punditry that’s allowed access to the corporate media. And they have one debate. On the ground though, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you hear the stories of the people that are forced to live on the other side of the barrel of the gun that is U.S. foreign policy. And you get a very different sense. If the United States, as President Obama says, doesn’t want a permanent presence in Afghanistan, why allocate a billion dollars to build this fortress like embassy, similar to the one in Baghdad, in Islamabad, Pakistan? Another one in Peshawar. Having an increase in mercenary forces. Expanding the US military presence there.

BILL MOYERS: Walter Pincus is an old friend of mine, an investigative reporter at “The Washington Post” for, you know, 30 or more years now. A very respected man. He reported in “The Washington Post” last fall that these contracts indicate how long the United States intends to remain in Afghanistan. And he pointed, for example, to a contract given by the Corps of Engineers to a firm in Dubai to build to expand the prison, the U.S. prison at Bagram in Afghanistan. What does that say to you?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Right. Look, we have President Obama making it a point, regularly, to say, “We’re going to have Guantánamo closed by early next year.” The fact is that, at Bagram, we see an expansion. They’re spending $60 million to expand that prison. You have hundreds of people held without charges. You have people that are being denied access to the Red Cross in violation of international law. And you have an ongoing position, by the Obama administration, formed under Bush, that these prisoners don’t have right to habeas corpus. There are very disturbing signals being sent with Afghanistan as a microcosm. Not to mention these regular attacks that we’re seeing inside of Pakistan that have killed upwards of 700 civilians using these robotic drones since 2006. Including 100 since Obama took power.

BILL MOYERS: Some people have suggested that the increasing reliance on military contractors in Afghanistan underscores the fact that the military is actually stretched very thin. General McChrystal said, this week, he admitted that he doesn’t even know if we have enough troops there to deal with the situation as it is now. Does that surprise you?

JEREMY SCAHILL:No. It doesn’t surprise me. Because this is increasingly turning into a war of occupation. That’s why General McChrystal is making that statement. If this was about fighting terrorism, it would be viewed as a law enforcement operation where you are going to hunt down criminals responsible for these actions and bring them in front of a court of law. This is turning into a war of occupation. If I might add about General McChrystal, what message does it send to the Afghan people when President Obama chooses a man who is alleged to have been one of the key figures running secret detention facilities in Iraq, and working on these extra judicial killing squads. Hunting down, quote unquote, insurgents, and killing them on behalf of the U.S. military. This is a man who’s also alleged to have been at the center of the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death, who was killed by U.S. Army Rangers.

BILL MOYERS:  But he apologized for that this week be before Congress.  

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, it’s easy to apologize when your new job is on the line. It’s a different thing to take responsibility for it when you realize that the mistake was made, or that you were involved with what the family of Pat Tillman says was a cover-up.

BILL MOYERS: You know, you talk about military contractors. Do you think the American people have any idea how their tax dollars are being used in Afghanistan?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Absolutely no idea whatsoever. We’ve spent 190 million dollars. Excuse me, $190 billion on the war in Afghanistan. And some estimates say that, within a few short years, it could it could end up at a half a trillion dollars. The fact is that I think most Americans are not aware that their dollars being spent in Afghanistan are, in fact, going to for-profit corporations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These are companies that are simultaneously working for profit and for the U.S. government. That is the intricate linking of corporate profits to an escalation of war that President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address. We live in amidst the most radical privatization agenda in the history of our country. And it cuts across every aspect of our society.

BILL MOYERS: You recently wrote about how the Department of Defense paid the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for contracts to install what proved to be very defective electrical wiring in Iraq. Senator Byron Dorgan himself, called that wiring in hearings, shoddy and unprofessional. So my question is why did the Pentagon pay for it when it was so inferior?

JEREMY SCAHILL:This is perhaps one of the greatest corporate scandals of the past decade. The fact that this Halliburton corporation, which was once headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, was essentially given keys to the city of U.S. foreign policy. And allowed to do things that were dangerous for U.S. troops. Provide then with unclean drinking water. They were the premier company responsible for servicing the US military occupation of Iraq. In fact, they were deployed alongside the U.S. military in the build up to the war. This was a politically connected company that won its contracts because of its political connections. And the fact is that it was a behemoth that was there. It was it was the girl at the dance, and they danced with her.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. The Army hired a master electrician, I read, in some congressional testimony, to review electrical work in Iraq. He’s now told congress that KBR’s work in Iraq was, quote, “The most hazardous, worst quality work he’d ever seen.” And that his own investigation, this is not a journalist, this is an employee of the Army, had found improper wiring in every building that KBR had wired in Iraq.

JEREMY SCAHILL:Right. And we’re talking about thousands of buildings. And so we’ve had, U.S. troops that have died from electrocution in Iraq as a result of the faulty work of KBR. This should be an utter scandal that should outrage every single person in this country. And, yet, you find almost no mention of this in the corporate media.

BILL MOYERS:  Do you get discouraged writing about corruption that never gets cured?  

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I don’t believe that it necessarily doesn’t get cured. I think that I’m very heartened by the fact that we have a very vibrant independent media landscape that’s developing right now. You know, to me, I once put on the tagline of an article that I wrote early on in the Obama administration that I pledge to be the same journalist under Barack Obama that I was under President Bush. And the reason I felt that it was necessary to say that is that I feel like we have a sort of blue-state-Fox culture in the media. Where people are willing to go above and beyond the call of partisan politics to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. This is a man- it’s time to take off the Obama t-shirts. This is a man who’s in charge of the most powerful country on earth. The media in this country, we have an obligation to treat him the way we treated Bush in terms of being critical of him. And, yet, I feel like many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed these days, as have a lot of journalists. The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.

BILL MOYERS: You mentioned you mentioned drones a moment ago. I was impressed to hear our new commander of our troops in Afghanistan admit this week that the United States cannot go on killing civilians. He said, in fact, this is creating a dangerous situation for our own country.

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, that that I mean, on the one hand, that those words are true. I think that the fact is that, when you are killing civilians, in what is perceived to be an indiscriminate way certainly by the people of Pakistan you’re going to give rise to more people that want to attack the United States. They view themselves as fighting a defensive war. But never are the statistics cited that come out of Pakistan. 687 people are documented to have been killed. That the Pakistani authorities say are civilians since 2006. In the first 99 days of this year over 100 people were killed. And the fact is…

BILL MOYERS:  By American military action?  

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right.  By American military action with these robotic drones.    

BILL MOYERS: 60 Minutes, on CBS News, recently got some very special access to the military. And came out with a report on drones. Let me show you a few excerpts from that.

LARA LOGAN: Right now, there are dozens of them over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan. Hunting down insurgents every minute of every day. The fight for the pilot is on the video screen. Here a truck full of insurgents in Afghanistan is being tracked by the pilot. When the ground commander gives the order-he first, hitting his target. The trigger is pulled in Nevada. Inside these cramped single white trailers of small offices.

COL. CHRIS CHAMBLISS: And that white spot that this guy is carrying is actually a hot gun. It’s been fired and already know that it’s been used. We’ve met positive identification criteria that these are bad guys. And so now we can go ahead and strike these targets.

BILL MOYERS: Now, many people are like that fellow. They say that these drones are new miracle weapons that enable the United States military to kill the bad guys, as he said, without exposing Americans to danger. There’s truth in that, right?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Now, I have a lot of respect for Lara Logan, the CBS correspondent. She’s really put her neck on the line and been in the thick of battle, and has been injured in battle. But I think that this piece was propaganda. She allowed the military to make claims about the effectiveness of their weapons that are being contested passionately by the people on the ground in Pakistan itself. I recently did an article about “Time” magazine’s coverage of this. They said that the Taliban are using civilians as human shields. And that’s why so many civilians have been killed. Their source for that was an Air Force intelligence officer who was allowed to speak on as though it was a Pentagon press release. I think that this is sick. Where you turn war, essentially, into a videogame that can be waged by people half a world away. What this does, these drones, is they it sanitizes war. It means that we increase the number of people that don’t have to see that war is hell on the ground. And it means that wars are going to be easier in the future because it’s not as tough of a sell.

BILL MOYERS: You will find agreement on people who say war is hell. But you’ll also find a lot of people in this country, America a lot of Democrats and Republicans, who say Jeremy Scahill is wrong. That we need to be doing what we’re doing in Afghanistan because, if we don’t, there’ll be another attack like 9/11 on this country.

JEREMY SCAHILL: I think that what we’re doing in Afghanistan increases the likelihood that there’s going to be another attack.  


JEREMY SCAHILL:Because we’re killing innocent civilians regularly. When the United States goes in and bombs Farah province in Afghanistan, on May 4th, and kills civilians, according to the Red Cross and other sources, 13 members of one family, that has a ricochet impact. The relatives of those people are going to say maybe they did trust the United States. Maybe they viewed the United States as a beacon of freedom in the world. But you just took you just took that guy’s daughter. You just killed that guy’s wife. That’s one more person that’s going to line up and say, “We’re going to fight the United States.” We are indiscriminately killing civilians, according to the UN Human Rights Council. A report that was just released this week by the UN says that the United States is indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. That should be a collective shame that we feel in this society. And yet we have people calling it the good war.

BILL MOYERS: So, step back to that issue of military contractors. You’ve been you’ve been writing about privatization and military contractors for a long time. In the large scheme of things what do you military contractors represent to you?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Yeah. Well, I think that what we have seen happen, as a result of this incredible reliance on private military contractors, is that the United States has created a new system for waging war. Where you no longer have to depend exclusively on your own citizens to sign up for the military and say, “I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and risk my life for it.” You turn the entire world into your recruiting ground. You intricately link corporate profits to an escalation of warfare and make it profitable for companies to participate in your wars. In the process of doing that you undermine U.S. democratic processes. And you also violate the sovereignty of other nations, ’cause you’re making their citizens in combatants in a war to which their country is not a party. I feel that the end game of all of this could well be the disintegration of the nation state apparatus in the world. And it could be replaced by a scenario where you have corporations with their own private armies. To me, that would be a devastating development. But it’s on. It’s happening on a micro level. And I fear it will start to happen on a much bigger scale.

BILL MOYERS:  Jeremy Scahill, thanks for being with me again on the Journal.  

JEREMY SCAHILL: It’s been an honor Bill.  Bill Moyer’s Journal, June 5

Obviously I had similar worries when I started this story.

Blackwater is not the only security force the nation employs.  At the time that I started writing this they were the biggest and the most powerful.  That may change as they are only one of many security forces in the “war on terror” and they have currently fallen out of favor due to their continued bad press.  President Obama’s favorite security force, Triple Canopy, has close ties to Chicago and given Blackwater’s troubles may be next in line for enjoying most powerful mercenary status.  In fact, Blackwater’s press was so bad they changed their name to Xe (pronounced zee) to try and distance themselves from past bad behavior.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, yeah, they changed their name to Xe. It’s like-well, it’s like our friends in Nigeria used to say, Amy, it’s old Coke in a new bottle, or old wine in a new bottle. And so, Obama picked this firm Triple Canopy, which interestingly was founded in Chicago, in the home state of Barack Obama. And then in 2005, they changed their location to Herndon, Virginia, so that they’d be closer to the epicenter of US war contracting, though on the Israeli contract, that I’m going to talk about in a moment, they list their Lincolnshire, Illinois address as their primary address for the contract.

AMY GOODMAN: Who heads up Triple Canopy?

JEREMY SCAHILL: It was founded by former Special Forces operatives from the US Army. They were minor contributors to the Bush/Cheney campaign, but not real big political players. They clearly started the company as a result of the US invasion in Iraq. They started it in 2003. By 2004, they got one of the primary contracts in Iraq.

An interesting fact about Triple Canopy is that it was one of the big three US companies. Triple Canopy, DynCorp, and Blackwater shared this mother contract. Blackwater had the biggest share of it, to guard US officials in the Baghdad area. DynCorp had the north of Iraq. Triple Canopy had the south of Iraq.  Democracy Now!

Unfortunately they have not distanced themselves from the bad behavior and are once again in trouble for killing people indiscriminately and fleeing the scene of the crime.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Blackwater, but here is my favorite.  They are outside of our laws.  They are in a way the president’s personal army.  And that makes them and all who are like them a very dangerous group indeed.  The way we constructed our government made it almost impossible to use the military to take over the country, as has happened in so many other places.  Blackwater and other security forces could be used to do just that.  They could and have be hired by the rich and powerful.  They have the weapons and the training.  All they need is the manpower and a reason.  Say chaos brought on by natural disaster or famine.

In New Orleans men like this were hired to protect high end neighborhoods and complexes after the storm.  In the chaos did they kill people?  What if they had?  How would you prove it?  If things got bad all over the US and not in one locality, would it matter if people like this killed the less fortunate?  Who would prosecute them?

The Rebranding of Blackwater

Fighting Mercenary Armies

Jeremy Scahill



3.  I feel so ripped off!

I watched ABC’s Earth 2100 the other night.  Did you see it?  At work it was even mentioned by one of my coworkers.  That did surprise me because not only are most of my coworkers completely unaware of the problems of global warming but one of them is even a global warming denier.

Admittedly, the show was pretty good, but boy what a sense of deja’ vu.  Not only did the end game in their story sound a lot like Dystopia, but they actually used some of the same links I have on my blog!

Actually, it just goes to show that the options for us are few and fairly obvious.  A small part of me does feel rather vindicated that the experts consulting a big firm like ABC pretty much came to the same conclusions I had.  Except for one.  Capitalism.  According to them capitalism, more spending, more consumption, more jobs are going to save us.  The idea that we have to use less is never broached.

Did you notice that the solutions presented were scant and rather vague?  They were all presented in the last rather brief segment of the 2 hour program.  The media likes to push the “Be Afraid” button but they are not very good at the “Be Angry and Take Action” button.  That is why this is Utopia/Dystopia.  Because there is a choice to be made here.  Because I am asking you to do something harder than just feel despair.  I am asking you to take action.  Today.  Right now.  That is why the site is full of links.  That is why the discussion is not only about global warming but our mind set, how we are manipulated, and how we can turn away from that manipulation toward a future that is even brighter than our present state.



  1. They are their own private army. The president can be outbid, only Jesus can’t be outbid. Xe (xtian extremists?) is owned by a dominionist theocrat, so they will eagerly slaughter muslims, but I wouldn’t rely on them to guard a Planned Parenthood, for example.  

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