Posted by: Tony Carson | 23 September, 2007

Blackwater, the Great Dismal Swamp

How powerful is Blackwater?

Iraq will not take immediate steps to expel U.S. security firm Blackwater, under investigation over a shooting which killed 11 Iraqis a week ago, a government security official said on Sunday. See: Iraq says won’t move to expel Blackwater.

Just days after Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki banished Blackwater from his country for the apparent unprovoked attack on innocent civilians, it’s back in business and the subject to a probable white wash, a “joint inquiry into the work of private security companies like U.S.-based Blackwater, which many Iraqis see as private armies acting with impunity.”

Security firms operating in Iraq have become indispensable extra-legal private armies, aka mercenaries, that march to their own drummer.

So who is Blackwater? These notes are from a January 2007 Democracy Now interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

Blackwater is a company that began in 1996 as a private military training facility in — it was built near the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina. And visionary executives, all of them former Navy Seals or other Elite Special Forces people, envisioned it as a project that would take advantage of the anticipated government outsourcing.

Well, here we are a decade later, and it’s the most powerful mercenary firm in the world. It has 20,000 soldiers on the ready, the world’s largest private military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships. It’s become nothing short of the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration’s so-called global war on terror. And it’s headed by a very right-wing Christian activist, ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, whose family was one of the major bankrollers of the Republican Revolution of the 1990s. He, himself, is a significant funder of President Bush and his allies.

And what they’ve done is they have built a very frightening empire near the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina. They’ve got about 2,300 men actively deployed around the world. They provide the security for the US diplomats in Iraq. They’ve guarded everyone, from Paul Bremer and John Negroponte to the current US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. They’re training troops in Afghanistan. They have been active in the Caspian Sea, where they set up a Special Forces base miles from the Iranian border. They really are the frontline in what the Bush administration viewed as a necessary revolution in military affairs. In fact, they represent the life’s work of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

I think a lot of people still would be surprised to know that the US ambassador in Iraq and US diplomats throughout Iraq and US diplomatic facilities and regional occupational offices are actually guarded by mercenaries. And Blackwater has a $300 million contract to provide diplomatic security. And so, they guard Zalmay Khalilzad and other US diplomats in Iraq.

Remember, it’s not necessarily Americans that make up the majority of these 100,000 — 100,000 — contractors that are operating in Iraq right now, 48,000 of whom are mercenaries, according to the GAO. So I don’t think it’s possible to put a fine point on the number of troops killed, because the Bush administration has found a backdoor way to engage in an undeclared expansion of the occupation by deploying these private armies.



  1. Lest we forget, Blackwater is but one of an array of similar businesses, from Ma and Pop Shop setups to publically listed corporations. Blackwater has the biggest name, but it isn’t alone.

  2. Blackwater, the Great Dismal Swamp | Carsons Post How To Spot Fake Hermes Constance Bag

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