Liberalscum Buster

September 29, 2007

GW BUSH NOW HAS HIS OWN SS IN BLACKWATER

Filed under: Bush, news, politics — gasdocpol @ 1:08 pm

In 1997, Erik Prince founded Blackwater USA, expanding the family’s Christian conservative empire into private security and war for hire. Erik is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and son of the late billionaire automotive parts supplier, Edgar. (In a Q&A published by the Virginian-Pilot on July 24, Erik noted some of his father’s less successful ideas, including a sock drawer light and an automated ham de-boning device.)

The elder Prince was widely known for his close association with anti-choice crusader Gary Bauer. Bauer was a domestic policy advisor in the Reagan White House before succeeding Jerry Regier (a former Reagan official, as well) for the leadership role of the Family Research Council (FRC) in 1988. With Edgar’s help, Bauer put the FRC on the map. (When Edgar died in 1995, the company was sold for $1.4 billion.)

Erik’s sister Elizabeth, commonly referred to as Betsy, was the head of the Michigan Republican Party until early 2005. She is also the former finance chairwoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). She married Dick DeVos, the son of billionaire Amway co-founder (now under the name Alticor), Richard DeVos. Forbes ranked DeVos as the 121st richest person in the world in 2003 with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion.

Under DeVos’ tutelage, Amway has donated roughly $7.5 million to Republican candidates since 1990. The contribution-tracking website, NewsMeat, lists personal campaign donations from DeVos; since February 1979, he has donated over $650,000 to Republicans, over $2 million to “special interests” and one lone contribution to a Democrat, Joe Torsella, in 2003.

Richard and his wife Helen operate the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation and are known to have associations or donated to right-wing groups such as Focus on the Family, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

Dick and Betsy DeVos donate huge sums of money to Republican candidates and causes. In the 2004 cycle, the couple ranked fifth among the highest political donors with $981,846 to Republicans. In fact, from 1990 through 2006, the couple donated $2,491,270 to Republicans with only $1,000 going to Democrats back in 1992.

The Grand Rapids Press reported July 9:

Since 1999, DeVos, his wife, Betsy, and their immediate family have poured at least $7 million into expanding school choice — vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools — and promoting candidates who back those causes.
In 2000, the family headed the campaign to legalize school vouchers in Michigan, raising big money and donating plenty as well. The initiative failed to pass.

This election cycle, the family is back at it again. But this time, Dick is running for the Republican Party’s nomination for Michigan Governor. His campaign chairman is David Brandon, chief executive of Domino’s Pizza and major Republican donor. Brandon has given over $100,000 to GOP candidates since 1987. (Side note: The founder of Domino’s Pizza, Thomas Monaghan, broke ground on the Ave Maria, Florida township, complete with its own university and strict Catholic-based laws.)

As for Erik, he started in Republican politics early, making his first donation — $15,000 — to the GOP at the age of nineteen. (At 19, I was $10,000 in financial aid debt and eating Ramen quite frequently.) Since 1989, Prince has donated over $151,250 to Republicans.

According to The News & Observer, Prince was among the first interns at the Family Research Council and interned for President George H.W. Bush for six months. (It is reasonable to suggest that, through his father’s Reagan-era connections, he was able to get the position.) He campaign for Patrick Buchanan’s Republican primary challenge to Bush in 1992, possibly because he “saw a lot of things I didn’t agree with — homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns,” he told the Grand Rapids Press in early 1992.

That far-left lefty leftist Bush really showed his true colors, didn’t he? Actually talking with gays in the White House? Heavens to Betsy!

It should also be noted that Erik served as a defense analyst for tainted Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). Rohrabacher was a special assistant to Reagan before being elected to Congress in 1988, and has a chronicled involvement in the scandal of disgraced Republican lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.

Erik was a volunteer firefighter and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1992, joining the elite SEALs and operating with the SEAL Team 8 in Norfolk, Virginia. Due to personal reasons, his military career was cut short, bowing out in 1996. At the age of twenty-seven, he founded Blackwater USA.

He is a board member of the Christian Freedom International, “a nonprofit group dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world,” reported the Virginian-Pilot on July 24, 2006. As of April 2005, among the list of “directors” for CFI is Robert Reilly, the former director of the Voice of America (VOA), who was criticized for being “too ideological.” (The New York Times reported on the ideological bent in October 2001. Subscription required.) After Reilly resigned “abruptly” from the VOA, the April 21, 2003 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, it was reported that he now heads the Pentagon’s broadcasting efforts in Iraq.

Prince is associated with a number of other companies. In addition to Blackwater, he is affiliated with Bering Truck Distribution, Phase One Ltd., the Prince Group (who hired the former Defense Department Inspector General, Joseph E. Schmitz) and Prince Household L.L.C. He has associations with the Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and Institute of World Politics, a national security organization that teaches graduate diplomats and offers two Masters degree programs. He is also listed among the forty Board of Trustees for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum with Senator John McCain.

Presidential Airways, whose parent company Presidential Airways, Inc. and its sister company, Aviation Worldwide Services (AWS), are owned by Blackwater, and based in Melbourne, Florida. It received a $2.43 million contract from the Department of Defense to provide “aircraft supports,” in February 2006. Late last year, Washington Post reporter Dana Priest revealed a network of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe; she received a Pulitzer Prize for her work. It turns out, according to independent media sources, AWS and Presidential were both involved in the chartered flights.

Erik and his politically-active extended family are enablers of the Republican political elite and are reaping the benefits in return. Specifically, Erik is a war profiteer through his private security company’s paid warriors. Beholden to nobody but the almighty dollar, these mercenaries are increasingly tasked with operations that were formerly conducted by uniformed U.S. military personnel.

Which do you trust?

Erik is notorious for his media-shy demeanor and preference to stay out of the lime light. What better way to send him a message about his company’s practices in Iraq than by casting him under the spotlight he seeks to avoid. Please contact us with any insights into this otherwise secretive and reclusive war whore.

Blackwater USA Headquarters
850 Puddin Ridge Road
Moyock, North Carolina 27958 [source: British American Security Information Council (BASIC) Research Report, September 2004: Part 3, Appendix 2]

Advertisements

KEN STARR GOES FROM WHITEWATER TO BLACKWATER

Filed under: life, news, politics — gasdocpol @ 1:04 pm

WHITEWATER

The Whitewater controversy (also called the Whitewater scandal, Whitewatergate, or often simply Whitewater) was an American political controversy concerning the real estate dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, James B. McDougal and Susan McDougal in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s.

Media coverage of Whitewater as the scandal develops Time, January 24, 1994David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against President Clinton in the Whitewater affair, claimed in November 1993 that Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, pressured him to provide an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the partner of the Clintons in the Whitewater land deal.[1] This allegation by Hale was questionable because it contradicted his own testimony in the original FBI investigation of the failure of Madison Guaranty in 1989 where Hale did not mention Clinton in reference to this same loan. Hale also had a history of creating dummy companies, then looting federal funds, such as SBA loans, from them, and allowing them to fail. Only after coming under indictment in 1993 for charges in just such a scheme did Hale make allegations against Clinton.[2] There is substantial evidence that Hale’s testimony against Clinton may have been motivated by profit, and to secure protection from prosecution in his unrelated indictment and that this evidence was willfully ignored by Kenneth Starr

BLACKWATER

Blackwater USA is a private military company and security firm founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. This firm is based in the U.S. state of North Carolina, where it operates a tactical training facility that it claims is the world’s largest. The company trains more than 40,000 people a year, from all the military services and a variety of other agencies. The company markets itself as being “The most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world”.

Blackwater is currently the biggest of the US State Department’s three private security contractors.[1] At least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts.[2

AIPAC+ AL QAEDA + PNAC +OIL = IRAQ FIASCO

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, Uncategorized, war — gasdocpol @ 12:55 pm

The following may be found in google and Wikipedia

1953 AIPAC

Founded in 1953 by Isaiah L. “Si” Kenen, AIPAC’s original name was the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs. According to UCLA political science professor and author, Steven Spiegel, “the tension between the Eisenhower administration and Israeli supporters was so acute that there were rumors (unfounded as it turned out) that the administration would investigate the American Zionist Council. Therefore, an independent lobbying committee was formed, which years later was renamed [AIPAC].” [Spiegel, p. 52].[citation needed] AIPAC’s web site states that it “has grown into a 100,000-member national grassroots movement.”[5]

Pro-Israel interests are a fixture in American politics, having developed an organized presence in Washington and across the country that is backed by generous campaign contributions and intensive lobbying.

On the lobbying front, the pro-Israel community is led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which Fortune magazine ranks as one of the top lobbying groups in the country. AIPAC spent more than $1.1 million lobbying in 2001, roughly the same amount it spent in 2000

1989 AL QAEDA

Al-Qaeda (also al-Qaida or al-Qa’ida or al-Qa’idah) (Arabic: القاعدة‎ al-qāʕida, translation: The Base) is an international alliance of terrorist Sunni organizations.[citation needed] Its roots can be traced back to Osama bin Laden and others around the time of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.[1] Al-Qaeda’s objectives include the end of foreign influence in Muslim countries and the creation of a new Islamic caliphate.

1997 Project for a New American Century

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is an American neoconservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., co-founded as “a non-profit educational organization” by William Kristol and Robert Kagan in early 1997. The PNAC’s stated goal is “to promote American global leadership.”[1] Fundamental to the PNAC are the views that “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world” and support for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.”[2] It has exerted strong influence on high-level U.S. government officials in the administration of U.S President George W. Bush and strongly affected the Bush administration’s development of military and foreign policies, especially involving national security and the Iraq War.[3][4][5]

* Original signatories of PNAC include:
Dick Cheney
Donald Rumsfeld
Scooter Libby
Paul Wolfowitz

OIL

Today, about 90% of vehicular fuel needs are met by oil. Petroleum also makes up 40% of total energy consumption in the United States, but is responsible for only 2% of electricity generation. Petroleum’s worth as a portable, dense energy source powering the vast majority of vehicles and as the base of many industrial chemicals makes it one of the world’s most important commodities. Access to it was a major factor in several military conflicts including World War II and the Persian Gulf Wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The top three oil producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States. About 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East, with 62.5% coming from the Arab 5: Saudi Arabia (12.5%), UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. However, with today’s oil prices, Venezuela has larger reserves than Saudi Arabia due to crude reserves derived from bitumen.

THE BOTTOM LINE

1. Rightly or wrongly the Arabs resent the USA for its Mideast politics, including its unconditional support of Israel

2. Access to Iraqi oil was the major factor in motivating the American invasion of Iraq.

3. Invading an oil rich Arab country like Iraq which had not attacked the USA and was no danger to the USA was the most wonderful gift GW Bush could have given Bin Laden.

4. The only people in the world who could believe the claims of those jingoistic imperialistic signatories of PNAC that the money and lives and maimed bodies spent in Iraq was worth it and justified by their altruistic pretexts are those who unconditionally support the GOP and/or GW Bush.

September 28, 2007

GEORGE W. BUSH EVEN HAS HIS OWN SS (WELL OK, CHENEY DOES)

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 11:28 am

MANY AMERICANS STILL THINK THAT GW BUSH IS THE “BRAINS” (lol) BEHIND AMERICAN POLICY. Colin Powell’s chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson revealed some time ago that the White House was run by a Neoconservative Cabal headed by Cheney and Rumsfeld.

In any case Blackwater USA , a Christian Right Wing oriented security firm has 100,000 personnel operating alongside of our official military without the oversight that our military is subject to.

Remember the fuss the GOP made over Whitewater , a land deal linked to the Clintons, that had gone wrong? If Iraq is not the ultimate land deal that went wrong, I would like to know what was.

BLOOD IS THICKER THAN BLACKWATER

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 10:51 am

from “The Nation”

article | posted April 19, 2006 (May 8, 2006 issue)
Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater
Jeremy Scahill

It is one of the most infamous incidents of the war in Iraq: On March 31, 2004, four private American security contractors get lost and end up driving through the center of Falluja, a hotbed of Sunni resistance to the US occupation. Shortly after entering the city, they get stuck in traffic, and their small convoy is ambushed. Several armed men approach the two vehicles and open fire from behind, repeatedly shooting the men at point-blank range. Within moments, their bodies are dragged from the vehicles and a crowd descends on them, tearing them to pieces. Eventually, their corpses are chopped and burned. The remains of two of the men are strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River and left to dangle. The gruesome image is soon beamed across the globe.

In the Oval Office the killings were taken as “a challenge to America’s resolve,” according to the Los Angeles Times. President Bush issued a statement through his spokesperson. “We will not be intimidated,” he said. “We will finish the job.” Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt vowed, “We will be back in Falluja…. We will hunt down the criminals…. It’s going to be deliberate. It will be precise, and it will be overwhelming.” Within days of the ambush, US forces laid siege to Falluja, beginning what would be one of the most brutal and sustained US operations of the occupation.

For most people, the gruesome killings were the first they had ever heard of Blackwater USA, a small, North Carolina-based private security company. Since the Falluja incident, and also because of it, Blackwater has emerged as one of the most successful and profitable security contractors operating in Iraq. The company and its secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder, Erik Prince, position Blackwater as a patriotic extension of the US military, and its employees are required to take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. After the killings, Blackwater released a statement saying the “heinous mistreatment of our friends exhibits the extraordinary conditions under which we voluntarily work to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people…. Our tasks are dangerous and while we feel sadness for our fallen colleagues, we also feel pride and satisfaction that we are making a difference for the people of Iraq.”

The company swiftly rose to international prominence: Journalists were flooding Blackwater with calls, and military types were clamoring to sign up for work. “They’re angry…they’re saying, ‘Let me go over,'” Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli told the Virginian-Pilot ten days after the killings, adding that applications to work for Blackwater had increased “considerably” in that time. “It’s natural to assume that the visibility of the dangers could drive up salaries for the folks who have to stand in the path of the bullets,” he said. A day after the killings, Prince enlisted the services of the Alexander Strategy Group, a now disgraced but once powerful Republican lobbying and PR firm. By the end of 2004 Blackwater’s president, Gary Jackson, was bragging to the press of “staggering” 600 percent growth. “This is a billion-dollar industry,” Jackson said in October 2004. “And Blackwater has only scratched the surface of it.”

But today, Blackwater is facing a potentially devastating battle–this time not in Iraq but in court. The company has been slapped with a lawsuit that, if successful, will send shock waves through the world of private security firms, a world that has expanded significantly since Bush took office. Blackwater is being sued for the wrongful deaths of Stephen “Scott” Helvenston, Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona by the families of the men slain in Falluja.

More than 428 private contractors have been killed to date in Iraq, and US taxpayers are footing almost the entire compensation bill to their families. “This is a precedent-setting case,” says Marc Miles, an attorney for the families. “Just like with tobacco litigation or gun litigation, once they lose that first case, they’d be fearful there would be other lawsuits to follow.”

The families’ two-year quest to hold those responsible accountable has taken them not to Falluja but to the sprawling Blackwater compound in North Carolina. As they tell it, after demanding answers about how the men ended up dead in Falluja that day and being stonewalled at every turn, they decided to conduct their own investigation. “Blackwater sent my son and the other three into Falluja knowing that there was a very good possibility this could happen,” says Katy Helvenston, the mother of 38-year-old Scott Helvenston, whose charred body was hung from the Falluja bridge. “Iraqis physically did it, and it doesn’t get any more horrible than what they did to my son, does it? But I hold Blackwater responsible one thousand percent.”

In late 2004 the case caught the attention of the high-powered California trial lawyer Daniel Callahan, fresh from a record-setting $934 million jury decision in a corporate fraud case. On January 5, 2005, the families filed the lawsuit against Blackwater in Wake County, North Carolina. “What we have right now is something worse than the wild, wild west going on in Iraq,” Callahan says. “Blackwater is able to operate over there in Iraq free from any oversight that would typically exist in a civilized society. As we expose Blackwater in this case, it will also expose the inefficient and corrupt system that exists over there.”

Scott Helvenston was a walking ad for the military. He came from a proud family of Republicans; his great-great-uncle, Elihu Root, was once US Secretary of War and the 1912 Nobel Peace Prize-winner. Scott was tall, tan and chiseled and, by all accounts, a model soldier and athlete. At 17 he made history by becoming the youngest person ever to complete the rigorous Navy SEAL program. He spent twelve years in the SEALs, four of them as an instructor, and then tried his luck with Hollywood. He trained Demi Moore for her film G.I. Jane and did a few stints on reality television. In one, Man vs. Beast, he was the only contestant to defeat the beast, outmaneuvering a chimpanzee in an obstacle course. Once the cover boy on a Navy calendar, he also had several workout videos.

If it had been up to Katy Helvenston, her son wouldn’t have been in Iraq at all. “We had argued about him going over there,” she recalls. “I believe that we should have gone into Afghanistan, but I never believed we should have gone into Iraq, and Scott bought the whole story about Saddam Hussein being involved with Al Qaeda and all that. He believed in what he was doing.” He also had a financial motivation. In early 2004 Helvenston was between jobs and was eking out a living with the stints on reality TV, the movie consulting and the fitness videos. “It was good money, but it was never enough,” his mother remembers. He was divorced but continued to support his ex-wife and two children. His mother says he took the job with Blackwater because the company offered short-term, two-month contracts, and Scott viewed it as an opportunity to turn his life around. “He said, ‘I’m gonna go over there, make some money, maybe make a difference. I’ll only be away from my kids for a couple of months.’ That’s why he chose Blackwater,” she recalls.

Helvenston arrived for training at Blackwater’s North Carolina campus around March 1, 2004. The man heading the training was Justin McQuown, nicknamed Shrek, after the green ogre movie cartoon character. According to the suit, McQuown lacked the credentials of Helvenston and other ex-SEALs. “During training, McQuown would often improperly instruct the class or provide erroneous information, tactics or techniques,” the suit alleges. “On occasion, Helvenston would attempt to politely assist McQuown by offering his expertise on the correct manner of the particular training exercise. The fact that [McQuown]…was being exposed infuriated him.” Scott’s mother believes, based on Scott’s e-mails and conversations with contractors who served with her son, that McQuown feared that Scott might replace him at the company.

After the training session, Helvenston got on a plane to Kuwait, where he touched down on March 18. It seemed like an ideal situation for him, as two of his friends from his days on the reality TV show Combat Missions were helping to run the Blackwater operations: John and Kathy Potter. When Helvenston set off for the Middle East, his family thought he was going to be working on Blackwater’s high-profile job of guarding the head of the US occupation, Paul Bremer. At $21 million, it represented the company’s biggest contract in Iraq. As it turned out, Helvenston was slated to carry out a far less glamorous task. John Potter had recently teamed Blackwater up with a Kuwaiti business called Regency Hotel and Hospital Company, and together the firms won a security contract with Eurest Support Services (ESS), guarding convoys transporting kitchen equipment to the US military. Blackwater and Regency had essentially wrestled the ESS contract from another security firm, Control Risk Group, and were eager to win more lucrative contracts from ESS in its other division servicing construction projects in Iraq. Unbeknownst to Helvenston, this goal would drive a series of events that would ultimately lead to his death.

According to former Blackwater officials, Blackwater, Regency and ESS were engaged in a classic war-profiteering scheme. Blackwater was paying its men $600 a day but billing Regency $815, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. “In addition,” the paper reports, “Blackwater billed Regency separately for all its overhead and costs in Iraq.” Regency would then bill ESS an unknown amount for these services. Kathy Potter told the News and Observer that Regency would “quote ESS a price, say $1,500 per man per day, and then tell Blackwater that it had quoted ESS $1,200.” ESS then contracted with Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which in turn billed the government an unknown amount of money for the same security services, according to the paper. KBR/Halliburton refuses to discuss the matter and will not confirm any relationship with ESS.

All this was shady enough–but the real danger for Helvenston and the others lay in Blackwater’s decision to cut corners to make even more money. The original contract between Blackwater/Regency and ESS, obtained by The Nation, recognized that “the current threat in the Iraqi theater of operations” would remain “consistent and dangerous,” and called for a minimum of three men in each vehicle on security missions “with a minimum of two armored vehicles to support ESS movements.” [Emphasis added.]

But on March 12, 2004, Blackwater and Regency signed a subcontract, which specified security provisions identical to the original except for one word: “armored.” Blackwater deleted it from the contract.

“When they took that word ‘armored’ out, Blackwater was able to save $1.5 million in not buying armored vehicles, which they could then put in their pocket,” says attorney Miles. “These men were told that they’d be operating in armored vehicles. Had they been, I sincerely believe that they’d be alive today. They were killed by insurgents literally walking up and shooting them with small-arms fire. This was not a roadside bomb, it was not any other explosive device. It was merely small-arms fire, which could have been repelled by armored vehicles.”

Before Helvenston, Teague, Zovko and Batalona were ever sent into Falluja, the omission of the word “armored” was brought to the attention of Blackwater management by John Potter, according to the families’ lawyers. They say Blackwater refused to redraft the contract. Potter persisted, insisting that his men be provided with armored vehicles. This would have resulted in Blackwater losing profits and would also have delayed the start of the ESS job. According to the suit, Blackwater was gung-ho to start in order to impress ESS and win further contracts. So on March 24 the company removed Potter as program manager, replacing him with McQuown, who, according to the families’ lawyers, was far more willing than Potter to overlook security considerations in the interest of profits. It was this corporate greed, combined with McQuown’s animosity toward Scott Helvenston, which began at the training in North Carolina, that the families allege played a significant role in the deaths of Helvenston and the other three contractors.

Scott Helvenston and his team were to deploy to Iraq on March 29. But late on the evening of March 27, McQuown called Helvenston and told him that he needed to pack his things immediately, that he would be leaving at 5 am with a completely different team. According to the lawsuit, “It was virtually unheard of to take a single person, like Scott Helvenston, and place him on a different group with whom he had never trained or even met.” Helvenston resisted the change. Several other contractors stepped forward, offering to go in his place. McQuown refused to allow it.

Later that night, according to Scott’s mother, McQuown came up to Helvenston’s hotel room. “He was told at that time that he was not going to be doing security for the ambassador, Paul Bremer, and he was going to escort a convoy of trucks to pick up kitchen equipment. And Scott says, ‘You’re nuts,’ you know, he says, ‘I’m not goin’ in there to Falluja. You’re out of your mind. That’s not what I was hired to do.’ And at that point McQuown apparently told him that if he didn’t do it, he would be fired immediately. He would have to reimburse any monies that had been paid to him, and he was on his own to get home. Well, that left Scott no choice. So the next morning they were off.”

The night before he left, Helvenston sent an e-mail to the “Owner, President and Upper Management” of Blackwater, subject: “extreme unprofessionalism.” In this e-mail, obtained by The Nation, he complained that the behavior of McQuown (referred to as “Justin Shrek” in the e-mail) was “very manipulative, duplicitive [sic], immature and unprofessional.” He describes how his original team leader tried to appeal to Shrek not to reassign him, but, Helvenston wrote, “I think [the team leader] felt that there was a hidden agenda. ‘Lets see if we can screw with Scott.'” Those were some of the last words Helvenston would ever write.

Callahan says that if Blackwater and McQuown had done in the United States what they are alleged to have done in Iraq, “There would be criminal charges against them.” What happened between McQuown and Helvenston was no mere personality conflict. “Corporations are fictional entities–they only act through their personnel,” explains Miles. “You need to show intent. You need to put a face on these acts. With regard to the wrongful death of these four men, that face is Justin McQuown of Blackwater.” The company refused to comment on the case, but McQuown’s lawyer, William Crenshaw, told The Nation there are “numerous serious factual errors” in the lawsuit, saying, “On behalf of Mr. McQuown, we extend our sincerest sympathies to the families of the deceased. It is regrettable and inaccurate to suggest that Mr. McQuown contributed in any way to this terrible tragedy.”

On March 30, 2004, Helvenston, Teague, Zovko and Batalona left Baghdad on the ESS security mission. The suit alleges that there were six guards available that day, but McQuown intervened and ordered only the four to be sent. The other two were kept behind at Blackwater’s Baghdad facility to perform clerical duties. A Blackwater official later boasted, the suit says, that they saved two lives by not sending all six men.

The four men were, in fact, working under contracts guaranteeing that they would travel with a six-person team. But their personal contracts also warned of death and/or injury caused by everything from “civil uprising” and “terrorist activity” to “poisoning” and “flying debris.” In filing its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Blackwater quoted from its standard contract, insisting that those who sign it “fully appreciate the dangers and voluntarily assume these risks as well as any other risks in any way (whether directly or indirectly) connected to the Engagement.”

Reading this, it would seem that Blackwater has a reasonable defense. Not so, say the families of the four men and their lawyers. They do not deny that the men were aware of the risks they were taking, but they charge that Blackwater knowingly refused to provide guaranteed safeguards, among them: They would have armored vehicles; there would be three men in each vehicle–a driver, a navigator and a rear gunner; and the rear gunner would be armed with a heavy automatic weapon, such as a “SAW Mach 46,” which can fire up to 850 rounds per minute, allowing the gunner to fight off any attacks from the rear. “None of that was true,” says attorney Callahan. Instead, each vehicle had only two men and far less powerful “Mach 4” guns, which they had not even had a chance to test out. “Without the big gun, without the third man, without the armored vehicle, they were sitting ducks,” says Callahan.

The men got lost on the evening of March 30 and eventually found a Marine base near Falluja where they slept for a few hours. “Scotty had tried to call me in the middle of the night,” Katy Helvenston remembers. “I had my bedroom phone ringer turned off–I didn’t get the call, so he left me a message. It mostly was, ‘Mom, please don’t worry, I’m OK. I’m gonna be home soon and I’m gonna see ya. We’re gonna go have fun. I’m gonna take care of you.’ You know, just stuff like that, which obviously wasn’t true. By the time I got the message he’d already been killed.”

Shortly after Helvenston left that message, the men left the base and set out for their destination. Without a detailed map, they took the most direct route, through the center of Falluja. According to Callahan, there was a safer alternative route that went around the city, which the men were unaware of because of Blackwater’s failure to conduct a “risk assessment” before the trip, as mandated by the contract. The suit alleges that the four men should have had a chance to gather intelligence and familiarize themselves with the dangerous routes they would be traveling. This was not done, according to Miles, “so as to pad Blackwater’s bottom line” and to impress ESS with Blackwater’s efficiency in order to win more contracts. The suit also alleges that McQuown “intentionally refused to allow the Blackwater security contractors to conduct” ride-alongs with the teams they were replacing from Control Risk Group. (In fact, the suit contends that Blackwater “fabricated critical documents” and “created” a pre-trip risk assessment “after this deadly ambush occurred.”)

The men entered Falluja with Helvenston and Teague in one vehicle and Zovko and Batalona in the other. “Since the team was driving without a rear-gunner and did not have armored vehicles, the insurgents were able to literally walk up behind the vehicles and shoot all four men with small arms at close range,” the suit alleges. “Their bodies were pulled into the streets, burned and their charred remains were beaten and dismembered.” The men, it goes on, “would be alive today” had Blackwater not forced them–under threat of being fired–to go unprepared on that mission. “The fact that these four Americans found themselves located in the high-risk, war-torn City of Fallujah without armored vehicles, automatic weapons, and fewer than the minimum number of team members was no accident,” the suit alleges. “Instead, this team was sent out without the required equipment and personnel by those in charge at Blackwater.”

After the killings, Katy Helvenston joined the families of Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona in grieving and in seeking details about the incident. Blackwater founder Erik Prince personally delivered money to some of the families for funeral expenses, and the company moved to get the men’s wives and children benefits under the government’s Defense Base Act, which in some cases insures those on contract supporting US military operations abroad.

But then things started to get strange. Blackwater held a memorial service for the men at its compound. The families were gathered in a conference room, where they thought they would be told how the men had died. The Zovko family asked Blackwater to see the “After Action Report” detailing the incident. “We were actually told,” recalls Zovko’s mother, Danica, “that if we wanted to see the paperwork of how my son and his co-workers were killed that we’d have to sue them.”

Thus began the legal battle between Blackwater and the dead men’s families. In one of its few statements on the suit, Blackwater spokesperson Chris Bertelli said, “Blackwater hopes that the honor and dignity of our fallen comrades are not diminished by the use of the legal process.” Katy Helvenston calls that “total BS in my opinion,” and says that the families decided to sue only after being stonewalled, misled and lied to by the company. “Blackwater seems to understand money. That’s the only thing they understand,” she says. “They have no values, they have no morals. They’re whores. They’re the whores of war.”

Since its filing in January 2005, the case has moved slowly through the legal system. For its part, Blackwater is represented by multiple law firms. Its lead counsel is Greenberg Traurig, the influential DC law firm that once employed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lawyers for the families charge that Blackwater has continued its practice of stonewalling. While some of that may be legitimate defense tactics, the lawyers argue that the company has actively prevented court-ordered depositions from taking place, including taking steps to prevent a key witness from testifying: John Potter, the man who blew the whistle on Blackwater’s removal of the word “armored” from the contract and was subsequently removed.

Attorney Marc Miles says that shortly after the suit was filed, he asked the court in North Carolina for an “expedited order” to depose John Potter. The deposition was set for January 28, 2005, and Miles was to fly to Alaska, where the Potters were living. But three days before the deposition, Miles says, “Blackwater hired Potter up, flew him to Washington where it’s my understanding he met with Blackwater representatives and their lawyers. [Blackwater] then flew him to Jordan for ultimate deployment in the Middle East,” Miles says. “Obviously they concealed a material witness by hiring him and sending him out of the country.” Callahan says Blackwater took advantage of the Potters’ financial straits to hinder the case against the company. “Potter didn’t have any other gainful employment, because many of these men who are ex-military, their skills don’t transfer easily into the civilian sector,” he says, adding that after Potter was removed for blowing the whistle on the armor issue, the company abandoned him “until they needed him to avoid this subpoena and this deposition and they said, ‘We need you and we need you now.’ And zoom, off he goes.” Blackwater subsequently attempted to have Potter’s deposition order dissolved, but a federal court said no.

Blackwater has not offered a rebuttal to the specific allegations made by the families, except to deny in general that they are valid. It has fought to have the case dismissed on grounds that because Blackwater is servicing US armed forces it cannot be sued for workers’ deaths or injuries and that all liability lies with the government. In its motion to dismiss the case in federal court, Blackwater argues that the families of the four men killed in Falluja are entitled only to government insurance payments. That’s why the company moved swiftly to apply for benefits for the families under the Defense Base Act. Many firms specializing in contractor law advertise the DBA as the best way for corporations servicing the war to avoid being sued. In fact, Blackwater’s then-general counsel, Steve Capace, gave a workshop last May on the subject to an “International Super-Conference” for contractors. In the presentation, called “Managing Contracting Risks in Battlefield Conditions,” Capace laid out a legal strategy for deflecting the kind of lawsuit Blackwater now faces. That’s why this case is being watched so closely by other firms operating in Iraq. “What Blackwater is trying to do is to sweep all of their wrongful conduct into the Defense Base Act,” says Miles. “What they’re trying to do is to say, ‘Look–we can do anything we want and not be held accountable. We can send our men out to die so that we can pad our bottom line, and if anybody comes back at us, we have insurance.’ It’s essentially insurance to kill.”

Given the uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died since the invasion and the slaughter in Falluja that followed the Blackwater incident, some might say this lawsuit is just warmongers bickering–no honor among thieves. Indeed, the real scandal here isn’t that these men were sent into Falluja with only a four-person detail when there should have been six or that they didn’t have a powerful enough machine gun to kill their attackers. It’s that the United States has opened Iraq’s door to mercenaries who roam the country with impunity.

“Over a thousand people died because of what happened to Scotty that day,” says Katy Helvenston. “There’s a lot of innocent people that have died.” While this suit doesn’t mention the retaliatory US attack on Falluja that followed the Blackwater killings, the case is significant because it could blow the lid off a system that allows corporations to face zero liability while reaping huge profits in Iraq and other war zones. “Scotty’s not going to die in vain,” says his mother. “I’m driven and I’m not going to quit. They will be accountable.”

Still, Blackwater has friends in high places. It’s a well-connected, Republican-controlled business that has made its fortune because of the Bush Administration. Company founder Erik Prince and his family have poured serious money into Republican causes and campaign coffers over the past twenty years. An analysis of Prince’s contributions prepared for The Nation by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that since 1989, Prince and his wife have given some $275,550 to Republican campaigns. Prince has never given a penny to a Democrat. While it is not unheard of for a successful business to cast its lot entirely with one party, it has clearly paid off. Shortly after George W. Bush was re-elected in November 2004, Gary Jackson sent out a mass celebratory e-mail declaring, “Bush Wins, Four More Years!! Hooyah!!”

The White House, for its part, has turned the issue of accountability of Blackwater and other private security companies into a joke, literally. This April at a forum at Johns Hopkins, Bush was asked by a student about bringing “private military contractors under a system of law,” to which Bush replied, laughing, that he was going to ask Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, “I was going to–I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I’ve got an interesting question [laughter]. This is what delegation–I don’t mean to be dodging the question, although it’s kind of convenient in this case, but never–[laughter] I really will–I’m going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That’s how I work.”

Blackwater USA:Schutzstafel=PNAC:Mein Kampf= Preemptive invasion of Poland by Hitler:Preemptive invasion of Iraq by GW Bush

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 10:30 am

Does anyone see a pattern here?

September 27, 2007

IS BLACKWATER GW BUSH’S SS?

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 7:36 pm

THE SS

The S.S. was established in 1925 as a personal guard unit for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.”Die Schutz-Staffel der NSDAP” (shield squadron of the Nazi party) Under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler between 1929 and 1945, the SS grew from a small paramilitary formation to become one of the largest and most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. The Nazis regarded the SS as an elite unit, the party’s “Praetorian Guard,” with all SS personnel selected on the principles of racial purity and unconditional loyalty to the Nazi Party.

Blackwater

Blackwater USA is a private military company and security firm founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. This firm is based in the U.S. state of North Carolina, where it operates a tactical training facility that it claims is the world’s largest. The company trains more than 40,000 people a year, from all the military services and a variety of other agencies. The company markets itself as being “The most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world”.

Blackwater is currently the biggest of the US State Department’s three private security contractors.[1] At least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts.[2]

Blackwater is to Bush as S.S. is to Hitler?

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 7:30 pm

Blackwater is to Bush as S.S. is to Hitler?
isn’t the notion of a private militia unconstituional in the United States?

furthemore since our tax dollars are paying for black water- how come congress has no idea how much money is being funneled to them by by Bush?

Apparenlty bush did his homework on hitler. because blackwater is the modern day S.S. on steroids. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqm4tkpdl…

note- Bush considers Blackwater not a militia but rather, “SECURITY”

FROM WHITEWATER TO BLACKWATER You can’t make this stuff up!

Filed under: Bush, life, news, politics — gasdocpol @ 10:47 am

Published on Friday, October 27, 2006 by The Nation
From Whitewater to Blackwater: Ken Starr, the Mercenaries’ New Lawyer
by Jeremy Scahill and Garrett Ordower

Blackwater USA, the private military contractor in the Bush Administration’s “war on terror,” has a new lawyer working to defend it against a ground-breaking wrongful death lawsuit brought by the families of four of its contractors killed in Iraq. The new “counsel of record” for the North Carolina-based company is none other than former Whitewater investigator, Kenneth Starr–the independent counsel in the 1999 impeachment of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. Starr was brought in last week by Blackwater to file motions in front of the US Supreme Court in a case stemming from the killing of four Blackwater contractors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on March 31, 2004.

“I think that Blackwater has brought in Kenneth Starr to somehow leverage a political connection to help them succeed in a case where they can’t win on the merits,” says Marc Miles, an attorney for the families of the Blackwater contractors. Starr takes over from Blackwater’s previous counsel, Greenberg Traurig, the influential Washington law firm that once employed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “They bring in all these big time lawyers from nationwide firms with hundreds of attorneys. Blackwater is really painting this David and Goliath picture themselves.”

In the lawsuit, originally filed in January 2005 in state court in North Carolina, the families of the men argue that Blackwater cut corners in the interest of profits, sent the men into Fallujah without proper personnel, armored vehicles and adequate weapons. The men were ambushed, their vehicles burned and their charred bodies hung from a bridge. The incident sparked the first US siege of Fallujah that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis and the destruction of the city.

Since the suit was first filed, Blackwater has fought rigorously in various courts to have the case dismissed or moved to federal court. On August 24, 2006, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Blackwater’s appeal, paving the way for a trial in state court in North Carolina. Lawyers for the four families believe they will have a more favorable playing field in state court where there is no cap on damages and the families would not need a unanimous decision to win.

Starr’s name first appeared in connection with the case in Blackwater’s October 18, 2006 petition to US Chief Justice John Roberts asking for a “stay” in the state case while Blackwater prepared to file its petition for writ of certiorari, which if granted would allow Blackwater to argue its case for dismissal at the US Supreme Court, now dominated by Republican appointees. Starr and his colleagues argued that Blackwater is “constitutionally immune” from such lawsuits and said that if the Fallujah case is allowed to proceed, “Blackwater will suffer irreparable harm.” In the eighteen-page petition to the Supreme Court, Blackwater argued that there are no other such lawsuits against private military/security companies in state courts “because the comprehensive regulatory scheme enacted by Congress and the President grant military contractors like Blackwater immunity from state-court litigation.”

Blackwater asserts that its mercenaries, and other private contractors, are part of the US “Total Force” constituting “its warfighting capability and capacity…in thousands of locations around the world, performing a vast array of duties to accomplish critical missions.” Therefore, the company says that the only remedy available to the families of security or military contractors killed or injured in Iraq is the federal government’s tax-payer funded insurance program, known as the Defense Base Act. The actual number of private contractors killed in Iraq is impossible to verify because there is no official tally kept. According to the Department of Labor, at least 647 private contractors died in Iraq between March 1, 2003, and Sept. 30, 2006. Under the government insurance program, the maximum death benefits available to the families of the contractors is limited to $4,123.12 a month. The lawsuit against Blackwater could result in much greater payments to the families of the four men killed in Fallujah–but from Blackwater, not US taxpayers. Attorney Miles says that Blackwater has attempted to use the federal Defense Base Act as “essentially insurance to kill.”

Citing the numerous court battles Blackwater has lost in this case–from attempting to get it dismissed to fighting for a change of jurisdiction–Starr and his colleagues appealed to Justice Roberts, writing, “This Court is therefore Blackwater’s last resort.” On October 24, Justice Roberts simply wrote “denied” on Blackwater’s application, providing no reasoning for his decision.

This outcome was not unpredictable and it is not the last appeal Blackwater will make before the Supreme Court. The company is expected to file its full motion for a review of its case at the court, possibly within days. In their petition, Starr and his colleagues also alluded to a fear that this lawsuit, similar to early tobacco litigation, could send shock waves through the war profiteering community. “[I]f companies such as Blackwater must factor the defense costs of state tort lawsuits into the overall costs of doing business in support of US ‘public works’ contracts overseas…American taxpayers will pay more for less operational results.” Blackwater has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal contracts, and was accused in a 2005 government audit of trying to include profit in its overhead and its total costs, which would have resulted “not only in a duplication of profit but a pyramiding of profit since in effect Blackwater is applying profit to profit.”

There are undeniable benefits to having Starr, the US Solicitor General under President George H.W. Bush, represent Blackwater–a highly partisan GOP company–in front of a Supreme Court stacked with Bush appointees. Starr also has a personal connection to Blackwater. Starr and Joseph Schmitz, the General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group, have both worked closely with the arch-conservative Washington Legal Foundation. Since 1993, Starr has served on the legal policy advisory board of the organization for which Schmitz has frequently acted as a spokesperson and attorney.

In April 2006, in the midst of the battle over whether Blackwater could remove the Fallujah case to federal court, the Foundation issued a “legal backgrounder” arguing that “regulating conduct on a foreign battlefield is a matter of foreign affairs where state law should not interfere. …Both the Courts and Congress can play a role…by affording battlefield contractors the procedural protection of removal to a federal venue when faced with a tort action alleging negligence while supporting our Armed Forces overseas.” Schmitz, whom Blackwater also listed for the first time as an attorney on the Fallujah case in its Supreme Court filing, is the former Pentagon Inspector General once responsible for overseeing companies operating in Iraq, including Blackwater. He left the Pentagon in 2005 amidst mounting accusations that he stonewalled investigations.

Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University, says that the fact that Starr is a “Republican lifelong supporter of the party and perhaps even a friend of some of the justices is not going to help” in the case. (In the 1980s, Starr served with Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.) “Ken’s Republican credentials and his friendships are not going to help him in this court. What’s going to help them is their respect for his intelligence and his creativity in trying to persuade them to do what his client wants.” Despite Blackwater’s new high-profile lawyer and the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court, attorney Marc Miles predicts that Blackwater’s appeals will be rejected and that ultimately the company will face trial. “The real irreparable damage to Blackwater is that the truth will come out,” Miles says. Starr did not immediately return calls requesting comment.

Jeremy Scahill, a correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, is a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute. He can be reached at jeremy@democracynow.org. Garrett Ordower is a freelance journalist.

###

REMEMBER THE FUSS THE GOP MADE OVER WHITEWATER?? TAKE A LOOK AT BLACKWATER !!!

Filed under: Bush, life, mideast, news, politics, war — gasdocpol @ 10:08 am

CLINTON LIED ABOUT SEX. GW BUSH LIED US INTO A DIRTY FIASCO. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?

State Dept. intercedes in Blackwater probe

A House panel reveals a letter telling the firm not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without the administration’s OK.
By Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2007
WASHINGTON — The State Department has interceded in a congressional investigation of Blackwater USA, the private security firm accused of killing Iraqi civilians last week, ordering the company not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without approval from the Bush administration, according to documents revealed Tuesday.

In a letter sent to a senior Blackwater executive Thursday, a State Department contracting official ordered the company “to make no disclosure of the documents or information” about its work in Iraq without permission.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN
click to enlarge

Map

Photo Gallery
Iraq cancels Blackwater’s license
Related
– Iraq coalition casualty count – icasualties.org
– Latest coverage of the Iraq war

Related Stories
– Bush, Maliki hold sensitive talks
– Blackwater resumes limited escorts
– Maliki insists U.S. find new guard firm
– U.S. rushes to smooth Iraq’s anger over Blackwater
– Recent California military deaths

The letter and other documents were released Tuesday by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), whose House committee has launched wide-ranging investigations into contractor abuses and corruption in Iraq.

The State Department order and other steps it has taken to limit congressional access to information have set up a confrontation between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Waxman, who has repeatedly accused the State Department of impeding his inquiries.

In his own letter to Rice on Tuesday, Waxman called her department’s latest efforts to withhold information from the committee “extraordinary” and “unusual.”

“Congress has the constitutional prerogative to examine the impacts of corruption within the Iraqi ministries and the activities of Blackwater,” Waxman wrote. “You are wrong to interfere with the committee’s inquiry.”

In response to Waxman’s letter, Kiazan Moneypenny, a senior contracting officer in the State Department’s office of acquisition management, appeared to soften the department’s stand, saying later Tuesday that it would allow Blackwater to hand over unclassified documents.

Classified documents still would be subject to State Department review. The committee has accused the administration of using secrecy designations to keep bad news about Iraq out of the hands of Congress.

The firm’s contractThe State Department’s order to Blackwater last week cited a provision in the North Carolina security firm’s contract that makes all records produced by the company in Iraq property of the U.S. government, and prohibits the company from releasing documents without State Department approval.

Waxman had sought information about Blackwater’s contract with the State Department, under which it provides nearly 1,000 armed guards to protect U.S. diplomats when they travel outside Baghdad’s Green Zone.

The request was part of a probe into a Sept. 16 incident in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed after Blackwater employees protecting a U.S. Embassy convoy opened fire.

The incident enraged the Iraqi government, which accused the firm of routinely shooting civilians with impunity.

L. Paul Bremer III, the former U.S. administrator for Iraq, granted contractors immunity from prosecution in an order he signed the day before handing over sovereignty in June 2004.

A preliminary Iraqi investigation said the shootings occurred without provocation; Blackwater and the State Department said the convoy was ambushed and the guards opened fire after being attacked.

Hearing scheduledWaxman has scheduled a Blackwater hearing for next Tuesday, but Blackwater’s attorneys warned the committee that the State Department’s letter may complicate company executives’ testimony.

“In the fluid setting of a congressional hearing it may become difficult, if not impossible, for Blackwater personnel to meet the terms of” the State Department finding, wrote Stephen M. Ryan, an attorney advising Blackwater in the congressional investigation.

“This contractual direction from the [State Department] is unambiguous.”

A company spokeswoman said Tuesday that Blackwater interpreted the State Department’s apparent shift Tuesday as permission to release documents sought by Waxman.

The State Department has repeatedly defended Blackwater in the aftermath of the Sept. 16 incident. After a brief ban on diplomatic travel outside the Green Zone, department officials have resumed trips under Blackwater guard and have said that the company’s status has not changed.

In his letter to Rice, Waxman also objected to a move by the department to bar its officials from speaking with committee investigators about corruption inside the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

An e-mail received by the committee Monday night indicated that the State Department was treating information about corruption as classified, suggesting it might undermine bilateral relations.

“The scope of this prohibition is breathtaking,” Waxman wrote. “On its face, it means that unless the committee agrees to keep the information secret from the public . . . the committee cannot obtain information about whether Mr. Maliki himself has been involved in corruption or has intervened to block corruption investigations.”

Waxman said that previous official reports of corruption within Iraqi ministries were treated as “sensitive but unclassified.” The State Department retroactively classified the reports after his committee requested them, Waxman said.

peter.spiegel@latimes.com

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.