Blackwater's Not Going Anywhere
It seems that executives from Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush Administration's favorite hired guns in
This story broke on July 21, when the Associated Press ran an article based on lengthy interviews with Blackwater's top guns. Since then, the story has picked up considerable steam and generated a tremendous amount of buzz online and in the press. After all, Blackwater has long been a key part of the
Among the headlines: "Blackwater Plans Exit From Guard Work," "Blackwater Getting Out Of Security Business," "Blackwater Sounds Retreat From Private Security Business," and "Blackwater to Leave Security Business." One blogger slapped this headline on his post: "Blackwater, Worst Organization Since SS, To End Mercenary Work."
Frankly, this is a whole lot of hype.
Anyone who thinks Blackwater is in serious trouble is dead wrong. Even if-and this is a big if-the company pulled out of
Back to the matter at hand:
Complaining that negative media attention and Congressional and criminal investigations are hurting business and that the Blackwater name had become a catch-all target for antiwar protesters, the company's brass told the AP Blackwater was shifting its focus to its other areas of government contracting, like law enforcement and military training, as well as logistics.
"The experience we've had would certainly be a disincentive to any other companies that want to step in and put their entire business at risk," said Erik Prince, Blackwater's reclusive, 39-year-old founder and owner. Company president Gary Jackson said Blackwater has become like the "Coca-Cola" of war contractors, a brand representing all private companies servicing the
All of this sounds a bit like whining on a children's playground.
Shame on journalists for not recognizing the noble work of the gallant heroes and patriots (who happen to be paid much more than US troops, have not been subjected to any system of law and can leave the war zone any moment they choose) and forcing Blackwater to consider abandoning its (very profitable, billion-dollar) charitable humanitarian campaign in Iraq. Remember, according to Blackwater, it is not a mercenary organization, it is a "Peace and Stability" operation employing "Global Stabilization Professionals."
While they were at it, Jackson and Prince should have blamed those wretched seventeen Iraqi civilians who had the audacity to step in front of the bullets flying out of Blackwater's weapons in
As for the current hype, the day after the AP story broke, Blackwater's longtime spokesperson Anne Tyrrell was quick to clarify the matter. Blackwater, she said, has no immediate plans to exit the security business. "As long as we're asked, we'll do it," she said. Meanwhile, the State Department, which renewed Blackwater's contract for another year in April, says it has received no communication from the company indicating it is not going to continue on in
As of 2005-2006, according to the company, about half of Blackwater's business was made up of its security work in places like
Blackwater, like all companies operating in
Perhaps Blackwater has already gotten what it needed from
Erik Prince's private spy agency, Total Intelligence Solutions, is now open for business, placing capabilities once the sovereign realm of governments on the open market. Run by three veteran CIA operatives, the company offers "CIA-type services" to Fortune 1000 companies and governments.
Blackwater was asked by the Pentagon to bid for a share of a whopping $15 billion contract to "fight terrorists with drug-trade ties" in a
Blackwater is wrapping up work on its own armored vehicle, the Grizzly, as well as its Polar Airship 400, a surveillance blimp Blackwater wants to market to the Department of Homeland security for use in monitoring the US-Mexico border.
On top of this, Blackwater affiliate Greystone Ltd., registered offshore in
At the end of the day, maybe this is just a story, a whole lot of hype and a dash of misdirection from a pretty savvy company. Safe money would dictate that Blackwater plans on continuing to be, well, Blackwater.
Consider this: the other day Blackwater president Gary Jackson told the AP, "Security was not part of the master plan, ever."
Interesting claim. It was, in fact, Jackson himself who, back at the beginning of the
Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," published by Nation Books. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!.