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Thursday, June 07, 2007

What if our mercenaries turn on us?


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"But what he and his allies have built is a mercenary army, paid for with government money, which operates outside the law and without constitutional constraint."

I have no objection to mercenaries. In fact, I am one--of sorts. Besides, any knowledgable Austrian economist can tell you that anything the government can do, the private (for profit) sector can do better--and that includes the provision of security services. But...the operaterave phrase in the quoted sentence above is: "paid for with government money."

I trained at the NC Blackwater facility in 2004 where I was a victim of their anti-southern cultural bigotry. To get the whole story, see "WHEN "PRIVATIZATION" IS NOT 'PRIVATE' or How Neo-cons Are Like Liberals" at http://www.flyoverpress.com/blackwater.htm

thegunny, 419

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What if our mercenaries turn on us?

http://tinyurl.com/2jbkhd

Chris Hedges is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and won a Pulitzer Prize as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times

Armed units from the private security firm Blackwater USA opened fire in Baghdad streets twice in two days last week. It triggered a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, a reminder that the war in Iraq may be remembered mostly in our history books for empowering and building America's first modern mercenary army.

There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors working in Iraq, although there are no official figures and some estimates run much higher. Security contractors are not counted as part of the coalition forces. When the number of private mercenary fighters is added to other civilian military "contractors" who carry out logistical support activities such as food preparation, the number rises to about 126,000.

"We got 126,000 contractors over there, some of them making more than the secretary of defense," said House defense appropriations subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D., Pa.). "How in the hell do you justify that?"

The privatization of war hands an incentive to American corporations, many with tremendous political clout, to keep us mired down in Iraq. But even more disturbing is the steady rise of this modern Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome was a paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse, and eventually plunged the Roman Republic into tyranny and despotism. Despotic movements need paramilitary forces that operate outside the law, forces that sow fear among potential opponents, and are capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors. And in the wrong hands, a Blackwater could well become that force.

American taxpayers have so far handed a staggering $4 billion to "armed security" companies in Iraq such as Blackwater, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.). Tens of billions more have been paid to companies that provide logistical support. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) of the House Intelligence Committee estimates that 40 cents of every dollar spent on the occupation has gone to war contractors. It is unlikely that any of these corporations will push for an early withdrawal. The profits are too lucrative.

Mercenary forces like Blackwater operate beyond civilian and military law. They are covered by a 2004 edict passed by American occupation authorities in Iraq that immunizes all civilian contractors in Iraq from prosecution.

Blackwater, barely a decade old, has migrated from Iraq to set up operations in the United States and nine other countries. It trains Afghan security forces and has established a base a few miles from the Iranian border. The huge contracts from the war - including $750 million from the State Department since 2004 - have allowed Blackwater to amass a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, including helicopter gunships. Jeremy Scahill, the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, points out that Blackwater has also constructed "the world's largest private military facility - a 7,000-acre compound near the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina." Blackwater also recently opened a facility in Illinois ("Blackwater North") and, despite local opposition, is moving ahead with plans to build another huge training base near San Diego. The company recently announced it was creating a private intelligence branch called "Total Intelligence."

Erik Prince, who founded and runs Blackwater, is a man who appears to have little time for the niceties of democracy. He has close ties with the radical Christian Right and the Bush White House. He champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is dishonest, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. But what he and his allies have built is a mercenary army, paid for with government money, which operates outside the law and without constitutional constraint.

Mercenary units are a vital instrument in the hands of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century each built rogue paramilitary forces. And the appearance of Blackwater fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, may be a grim taste of the future. In New Orleans Blackwater charged the government $240,000 a day.

" 'It cannot happen here' is always wrong," the philosopher Karl Popper wrote. "A dictatorship can happen anywhere."

The word contractor helps launder the fear and threat out of a more accurate term: "paramilitary force." We're not supposed to have such forces in the United States, but we now do. And if we have them, we have a potential threat to democracy. On U.S. soil, Blackwater so far has shown few signs of being an out-and-out rogue retainer army, though they looked the part in New Orleans. But were this country to become even a little less stable, outfits like Blackwater might see a heyday. If the United States falls into a period of instability caused by another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown that triggers social unrest, or a series of environmental disasters, such paramilitary forces, protected and assisted by fellow ideologues in the police and military, could ruthlessly abolish what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge profits it hands to corporations, and to right-wing interests such as the Christian Right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared on the streets in New Orleans could appear on our streets.
http://tinyurl.com/2jbkhd

Chris Hedges (hedgesscoop@aol.com) is author, mostly recently, of "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." --
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A NEW, IMPORTANT MESSAGE: TO ALL US VETERANS, FAMILY MEMBERS OF VETERANS AND PATRIOTS WHO CARE ABOUT OUR COUNTRY


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From:
http://www.flyoverpress.com

And you guys currently serving on active duty need to pay particular attention. Don't be fooled. Nothing has changed. This is what they think of you too! Now you know what it really means to be a member of the "brotherhood."

thegunny, 419
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

A NEW, IMPORTANT MESSAGE
TO ALL US VETERANS, FAMILY MEMBERS & PATRIOTS

By: John LeBoutillier

A NEW, IMPORTANT MESSAGE: TO ALL US VETERANS, FAMILY MEMBERS OF VETERANS AND PATRIOTS WHO CARE ABOUT OUR COUNTRY

FR: FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEBOUTILLIER

RE: AN ACTION PLAN TO SPREAD THE TRUTH ABOUT LIVING AMERICAN POWS STILL HELD ALIVE IN VIETNAM AND LAOS

In less than one month - just before Memorial Day - AN ENORMOUS CRIME;The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Vietnam and Laos will be published by St. Martins Press.

This book - as Publishers Weekly says - "makes the case that the U.S. knowingly left hundreds of POWs in Vietnam and Laos in 1973, and that every presidential administration since then has covered it up."

Indeed, AN ENORMOUS CRIME is the definitive proof that our government left hundreds of POWs behind and then covered it up - and the men are still there and still sending signals that say, "Please come rescue me!!!!"

Already the book has rocketed up the charts - it is already Number One on the Amazon.com Vietnam War list - even though it isn�t even on the bookshelves yet! All these sales are pre-orders through Amazon.

Our duty as Americans is to force the living POW issue back onto the front pages of our nation�s newspapers and back onto the top of the television news. Our comrades in Vietnam and Laos were - and remain - abandoned by a series of corrupt administrations in Washington - and the cover-up is still ongoing!

With the 2008 election already underway - and the country in the middle of yet another war where our troops are treated badly, used as PR props for political candidates and then cast aside when they come home - it is time for the truth about our living POWs to finally be put front and center for every American to see.

Why?

Because only by exposing the truth about the abandonment and cover-up of our Vietnam War POWs can we expose the perfidy and corruption of our government - and then begin to correct these mistakes.


AN ENORMOUS CRIME is indeed the book that can break open the truth about the POW issue. It is based on 66,000 pages of never-before-published US Government documents which prove that the highest levels of our government - from the Oval Office on down - have known all along that our POWs have been held alive against their will by the Vietnamese and Pathet Lao.

What can you do to help our POWs?

Here is an Action Plan for every US Veteran, every American Legion Post, every VFW Post and for all patriotic citizens who care about our men abandoned in SE Asia:

� Pre-order AN ENORMOUS CRIME through Amazon.com so that the book rises higher and higher on their Best Sellers List - and that will make the Media pay attention to the book and the Living POW issue. Here is the link to pre-order the book.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for your Legion or VFW Post.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for every building which flies the POW flag. Buy it and go into that building - a post office, government building or court house - and present them with the book that explains why the POWs exist in the first place!

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for your Congressman - and give it to him/her and ask that they read it, not pawn it off to some staffer.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for your US Senator - and give it to him/her.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME and bring it to your local Memorial Day parade or celebration. Tell everyone there about the book - and urge them to buy it, to read it and to spread the word about our men still held against their will in Laos and Vietnam.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for your local library.

� Buy a copy of AN ENORMOUS CRIME for your school library - and take it there and show it to the librarian.

� Forward this email to any and everyone you know - especially to veterans, American Legion members, VFW members and Vietnam vets.

� Pray - as a community of veterans, patriots and POW activists - for the successful return of all our POWs.

� We have a duty - for our country and for these men left behind by a callous and criminal government - to expose our arrogant government officials - liars like McCain, Kerry, Kissinger, former CIA Director and former President George "Sit Down and Shut Up!" Bush.

� Let us make one last push to get our POWs home - alive - now - beginning on Memorial Day when this book comes out.

The Pentagon is still receiving new, up-to-date, credible reports of sightings of US POWs this year! (Of course, they're hiding those reports from the public.)

So we owe it to these brave American heroes to make one more concerted effort to get them home.

The POWs need our help - so it is up to us to do whatever we can do to help get this issue back on the front pages and back in the news.

Please help our brothers!


Sincerely,
Former Congressman John LeBoutillier

P.S. Please feel free to forward this to any and everyone you know and especially to every veteran you know! Spread the word!

P.P.S. Here is the first news article about AN ENORMOUS CRIME.
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Publisher's Weekly:

An Enormous Crime: The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia
Bill Hendon and Elizabeth Stewart. St. Martin's/Dunne, $29.95 (640p) ISBN 978-0-312-37126-8
Controversial former North Carolina congressman Hendon and attorney Stewart make the case that the U.S. knowingly left hundreds of POWs in Vietnam and Laos in 1973, and that every presidential administration since then has covered it up. The main reason for the secrecy, say the authors, is the billions in war reparations demanded by the Vietnamese and promised by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon at the Paris Peace talks. Hendon and Stewart provide a mountain of evidence, mainly intelligence reports of live sightings of American prisoners in Vietnam and Laos that make for less-than-scintillating reading. But riveting sections describe Hendon's crusade on this issue in the early 1980s, including two meetings with President Reagan, pleading his case that the government free the live POWs. Hendon and Stewart directly accuse a long list of government officials of the coverup. Among the most culpable: Kissinger, President George H.W. Bush, Senators John McCain and John Kerry, Gen. Colin Powell, former secretary of state George Schultz and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It's a chore wading through the live-sighting reports and the massive, detailed endnotes, but the descriptions of Hendon's unsuccessful personal mission provide an intriguing story�and carry the ring of truth. 36 b&w photos not seen by PW. (June 1)

Kirkus Reviews:

A sprawling indictment of eight U.S. administrations. The charge: sacrificing American war prisoners in the interest of focusing, as Bush aides have said, "not on Vietnam�s past but on its future." Beginning in 1966, write former Rep. Hendon (R-NC) and attorney Stewart, GIs captured in South Vietnam were moved north along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and other routes. Cataloguing sightings with the diligence of Vincent Bugliosi�whose Reclaiming History (2007), on the JFK assassination, is something of a companion piece�Hendon and Stewart reckon that hundreds of POWs had crossed the Demilitarized Zone by the time of the Tet Offensive, their numbers swelled by pilots downed over North Vietnam. Many of these soldiers, Hendon and Stewart charge, were used as human shields against American bombing attacks on power plants, military headquarters and other strategically important venues. North Vietnam and its allies in Laos and Cambodia weren�t particularly forthcoming on all these things, but the U.S. played a dirty hand, too; by the authors� account, the prisoners� ultimate release was bound up in negotiations conducted by Henry Kissinger, "the surrogate president," who reneged on promises of U.S. aid owing to supposed violations of previous accords, thus closing off a diplomatic channel for repatriation. Fast forward to 1987, when Ross Perot traveled to Vietnam and told the foreign minister, who insisted that there were no POWs there, "Don�t embarrass yourselves, I know too much." Fruitful negotiations ensued, the authors report, only to be brushed aside by the Reagan administration�even though, they claim, at least 100 U.S. prisoners were still alive in Vietnam. Hendon and Stewart, who appear nonpartisan in their disdain for governmental inaction and double-dealing, close by offering advice to President Bush to send an army of former presidents and their staffs to negotiate the release of the remaining captives. Much of the authors� evidence is circumstantial, but there�s an awful lot of it. A convincing, urgent argument.

Hendon, Bill & Elizabeth A.Stewart
AN ENORMOUS CRIME:
The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia
Dunne/St. Martin�s (640 pp.)
$29.95
Jun. 1, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-37126-5



"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

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John LeBoutillier is a former U.S. Congressman and a nationally recognized political commentator. He has been a frequent guest on many national talk show programs and is author of the book Harvard Hates America. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

John LeBoutillier can be reached at: johnlebout@johnlebout.com

He keeps an archive of his articles at: JohnLeBout.com

Published in the May 11, 2007 issue of Ether Zone.
Copyright � 1997 - 2007 Ether Zone.

We invite your comments on this article in our forum!


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