December 23, 2013 archive

Screw them

Every death should be on the front page (2.70)

Let the people see what war is like. This isn’t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

by kos on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:08:56 PM PST

That was our very own Markos in response to the deaths of 4 BlackwaterUSA mercenaries in Fallujah.  They were killed and their bodies desecrated by being dragged around behind cars, chopped up, and hung from a bridge.

They probably cut off their gonads too.

Now first of all, I don’t imagine unless you’re an ancient Egyptian or a Native American (some tribes) who believe in a physical afterlife where wounds inflicted on the dead are carried over into the spiritual realm you much care about what happens to your body after you die.

You’re dead Jim, dead Jim, DEAD!

Ready for more?

Mercenaries flock into Iraq

by kos

Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 03:17 AM PST

Given the manpower shortage, it’s no surprise that private for-hire armies are filling the vacuum.

The US has so far spent $20bn on reconstruction in Iraq. The companies which have won these contracts currently expect to spend about 10% of their budgets on providing personal security planning and protection for their workers.

Industry insiders say the war has proven a godsend for British security firms – which have picked up much of the work. Their revenues are estimated to have risen fivefold, from around $350m before the invasion to nearly $2bn.

And why is this a problem?

The field of private security is unregulated, and alongside the more reputable companies, gun-slinging, cowboy contractors – whether foreign or Iraqi – are reported to be setting up shop Iraq.

Established companies dislike competition from smaller entrepreneurs, but also worry that their reputations may be damaged by the gung-ho approach of some of the newer firms.

The lack of regulation means mercenaries can often act with impunity.

Stories abound of heavy handed and trigger-happy behaviour. There are reports that some private security companies claim powers to detain people, erect checkpoints without authorisation and confiscate identity cards.


The four merceneries killed yesterday worked for Blackwater Security Consulting. They claim they were in the area “protecting food conviys”, but “declined to provide further deails.

Even Tacitus, my good friend on the Right, doesn’t buy the cover story:

The question is: what were they doing in Fallujah? The Blackwater press release states that they were part of an operation to guard food deliveries in the area. This strikes me as likely false: Iraqis aren’t starving, guerrillas have not targeted food supplies in any case, and thievery is much more likely to strike transports of manufactured goods. Furthermore, even if food shipments did need armed guards, what’s the chance that the CPA has hired highly-trained (and quite expensive) ex-SEAL-types to do it? About zero. Cheaper, and probably as effective, to have Iraqis on the job […]

This, though, does not explain what four of these personnel were doing sans convoy, traveling through the town proper. Lost? Reckless? On their way to a meetup with a client? En route to a hit? One may justly wonder.

As Tacitus notes, there should be no room for merceneries in war, especially since the rules of war forbid it. If we don’t have the forces to take care of our own convoys and maintain local security, that just one more indictment of this administration’s pathetic post-war planning.

Update: More on Blackwater:

Blackwater has about 400 employees in Iraq, said one government official briefed by the company. Its armed commandos earn an average of just under $1,000 a day.

Although most of their work is to act as bodyguards for corporate, humanitarian or government employees, they sometimes perform more precarious jobs that are inherently riskier — escorting VIPs, doing reconnaissance for visits by government officials to particular locations.

The mercenaries weren’t delivering humanitarian supplies. They were supposedly delivering supplies to a private company, Regency Hotel and Hospitality.

No one pays $1,000 a day per mercenary to deliver humanitarian supplies.

Secondly, I agree with kos.  Screw them.

Erik Prince’s habits and morals have not improved-

After Blackwater faced mounting legal problems in the United States, Prince was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and moved to Abu Dhabi in 2010. His task was to assemble an 800-member troupe of foreign troops for the U.A.E., which was planned months before the Arab Spring revolts. He helped the UAE found a new company Reflex Responses, or R2, with 51 percent local ownership, carefully avoiding his name on corporate documents. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit troops, among others from Executive Outcomes, a former South African mercenary firm hired by several African governments during the 1990s to put down rebellions and protect oil and diamond reserves. The battalion was to engage in intelligence gathering, urban combat, special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment, crowd-control operations, response to terrorist attacks, to put down uprisings inside labor camps, and to secure nuclear and radioactive materials in planned nuclear power plants. The force, made up largely of former Colombian soldiers, failed.

In January 2011, the Associated Press reported that Prince was training a force of 2000 Somalis for antipiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The program was reportedly funded by several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and backed by the United States. Prince’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, said that Prince has “no financial role” in the project and declined to answer any questions about Prince’s involvement. The Somali force will also reportedly pursue an Islamist supporting warlord.

The Associated Press quotes John Burnett of Maritime Underwater Security Consultants as saying, “There are 34 nations with naval assets trying to stop piracy and it can only be stopped on land. With Prince’s background and rather illustrious reputation, I think it’s quite possible that it might work.” The company was accused (of conspiring) to violate a U.N. arms embargo.

So he’s not just a bloodthirsty mass murderer and a traitorous sell out, but a dumb, bumbling, incompetent one too.

Not the report they were asked for.


Vindication for Snowden? Obama Panel Backs Major Curbs on NSA Surveillance, Phone Record Data Mining

Democracy Now

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A White House-appointed task force has proposed a series of curbs on key National Security Agency surveillance operations exposed by Edward Snowden. On Thursday, the panel recommended the NSA halt its bulk collection of billions of U.S. phone call records, citing “potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.” The panel says telecommunications providers or a private third party should store the records instead. The panel also calls for banning the NSA from “undermining encryption” and criticizes its use of computer programming flaws to mount cyber-attacks. And it backs the creation of an independent review board to monitor government programs for potential violations of civil liberties.

But, but, but why didn’t Snowden go through ‘normal’ whistleblower channels?

Because this is what happens to whistleblowers,


NSA Whistleblower Kirk Wiebe Details Gov’t Retaliation After Helping Expose “Gross Mismanagement”

Democracy Now

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Veteran National Security Agency official Kirk Wiebe helped develop the data processing system ThinThread, which he believed could have potentially prevented the 9/11 attacks. But the NSA sidelined ThinThread instead of the problem-plagued experimental program Trailblazer, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Wiebe was among the NSA officials to face retaliation for blowing the whistle on Trailblazer.


On This Day In History December 23

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 23 is the 357th day of the year (358th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are eight days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1893, The opera Hansel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is first performed.

The libretto was written by Adelheid Wette (Humperdinck’s sister), based on the Grimm brothers’ Hansel and Gretel. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the Abendsegen (“Evening Benediction”) from Act 2.

The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hänsel und Gretel.” After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.

Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt am Main in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss. It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Late Night Karaoke


riad photo ria_zps3644d703.jpgEdger let me know that RiaD has died. She left us on December 18.

RiaDarlin’. Fairy dust and magic. but she had a bite. and she could write. she was fierce and brave. she didn’t have a sweet nature, but a kind and forgiving one. and Ria knew things, she just did.

whenever i see emeralds in the river or stand in the rain and melt into the ground, i will remember her. as the clouds march across the skies like floats in thanksgiving day parades, i will smile and think: Ria helped me see such things.

when the snow falls and the streets go silent and the darkness is lit by moonlight, i will let go her name and see her form in the moist frost, knowing that it’s magic. whatever they think it is and whatever they call it, physics or science or religion or nothingness. it is magic. we are magic. the universe is the sorcerer and we are hatchlings spread out and swirling around planets in great gaseous lights or walking, swimming, flying on a tiny blue dot in system with a sun.

she knew it and that life was everywhere, flowing as urgently in the still and static stone as the heart beating within her. i miss her. i will never forget her. and how to connect in a free fall.

i love you RiaDarlin’… peef.