Skip

Blackwater: Coming Home To Roost
September 24, 2005 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Blackwater: Coming Home To Roost Blackwater and other mercenary companys run rampant in Iraq, making up the second largest military group in Iraq, outnumbering all other military forces combined. Now they are in New Orleans with no restrictions on use of firearms, seizure of property, taking of life. They are now bidding on security contracts with the U.S. Border Patrol. They could be coming to your city next, to your office building to maintain security. Has all of this 'Homeland Security' finally gone too far?
posted by mk1gti (57 comments total)

 
Seems like an end run around the "posse comitatus" laws...
posted by clevershark at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2005


Are you saying you DO want a draft? Just kidding.

I don't know how Americans can allow the privatisation of public security. There is a sense that when a person joins a public law enforcement organization or the military that it is partially an act of selflessness that reflects a certain duty towards the nation and people that they are protecting. However, with the desertion of police during the hurrican in Louisiana I don't know whether that is quite true. Perhps they simply lacked the necessary resources to properly do their job.

What I do know is that the USA is probably the only western country that would let private interests oversee public security at all levels of execution.
posted by furtive at 10:37 AM on September 24, 2005


I want to say something here about franchise opportunities for General Bob's Army (tm), but it just doesn't seem funny anymore.
posted by Mercaptan at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2005


Seems like an end run around the "posse comitatus" laws...
posted by clevershark at 1:02 PM EST on September 24 [!]


Mercenaries allow you do to end runs around many laws. Corporations are put together to avoid criminal liability. Add to that so-called "tort reform" and other legal manuevers that remove a citizen's ability to effectively sue to control a corporation's destructive behavior, ultimately private businesses such as Blackwater allow a government to usurp its own laws when convenient to do so.
posted by Rothko at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2005


This is very bad stuff. Erik Prince and the Blackwater guys are way too heavily connected to the GOP apparatus. This means we have armed right-win ideologue mercenaries operating on American soil with no oversight, free to exercise lethal force.

I wonder what size jack boots these guys wear?
posted by stenseng at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2005


Katrina changed everything, you know
posted by matteo at 12:37 PM on September 24, 2005


I just had this terrible but darkly humorous vision of a second shoah and many of us trying to get in one last mefi post as they break down the doors and drag us off to the camps...
posted by stenseng at 12:42 PM on September 24, 2005


This bothers me but not nearly as much as the fact that deserters from the NOLA police force were given Vegas vacations for returning after the emergency. There are laws against Blackwater's conduct in NO. They are just not being enforced.
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on September 24, 2005


"When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?'" A true patriot.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:56 PM on September 24, 2005


"No restrictions on taking of life".

Murder laws? No?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:05 PM on September 24, 2005


Blackwater girls, you make the flooded world go round.
posted by maxsparber at 1:21 PM on September 24, 2005


I am not wholly dismissing the concerns of this article, but the writer is being disingenuous. The State of Louisiana has a "Department of Homeland Security", and they have duly deputized Blackwater people, who have the same powers as State Police. By comparison, after the 1992 LA riots, Bush's father -- similarly assailed for slow response -- flooded the city with something like 5000 federal officers from an alphabet soup of agencies.

The author also conflates -- in addition to federal and state contractors -- government and private security guards. The general effect of all this firepower is indeed alarming, but the legal conundrums are quite different.
posted by dhartung at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2005


Another word on Posse Comitatus: The police are there to protect the public from the 'criminal element'. The military is there for protecting the population from an aggressor nation. When the military become policemen in their own country, the citizens become an aggressor nation, as well as a 'potential/probable criminal element'.

As George Orwell stated in '1984'.

"If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face...forever."
posted by mk1gti at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2005


I think if one weighs what has happened in this country since Reagan's time forward you will quickly realize that the author is being anything but 'disingenous' but is in fact illustrating a cold, hard fact: This country has evolved and continues to evolve into a freedom-destroying right wing dictatorship with no fear of law or legal obligation to uphold laws it does not deem in it's own interests.
Taking over a citizen's apartment and throwing their personal belongings onto the street does not sound like anything necessary to me. They could just as easily have taken over a 'Kinkos' and used that as their base of operations.
The fact that there are numerous law enforcement agency officials in the area (border patrol, DEA, State Patrol, Police officers, etc) from around the country volunteering in New Orleans clearly indicates that there is no need whatsoever for mercenaries to run rampant on american soil, much less the soil of any foriegn country. 'One stop shopping' indeed. More like 'One Stop Fleecing of the taxpayer to benefit an Oligarchy'.
posted by mk1gti at 1:44 PM on September 24, 2005


First of all These blackwater people have the same legal right to 'seize property' and 'take lives' that you or I would. They don't have special legal rights, and would probably be charged with murder if they shot anyone, and would need to prove self defense in court. Notwithstanding any deputization by the LA government. First of all these blackwater people have the same legal right to 'seize property' and 'take lives' that you or I would. They don't have special legal rights, and would probably be charged with murder if they shot anyone, and would need to prove self defense in court. Notwithstanding any deputization by the LA government.

The situation in Iraq is a little different, as private security forces are actually illegal under Iraqi law, but they're no different then another armed militia or whatever. A lot of US military people really don't like them being there, but their higher-ups aren’t complaining.

I remember reading a story about one security contractor in Iraq who got scammed out of an apartment. He paid $10,000 to an Iraqi, but when he tried to move in, someone was already living there. He called the local police, and they didn't care, and when he called the US Military, the person on the other line yelled at him and told him to get out of Iraq, and that he'd be arrested if military person found him.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2005


More frightening than terrorist, in my opinion.
posted by Atreides at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2005


I don't know how Americans can allow the privatization of public security
------------------------
Well, unfortunately americans have nothing whatsoever to do with running their country these days. The illusion that citizens (or as business would rather have us identify ourselves 'consumers') have any real impact these days is just that, an illusion. The fact that this country's government and corporations get away with as much as they do these days is a clear indication of that.
posted by mk1gti at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2005


when he called the US Military, the person on the other line yelled at him and told him to get out of Iraq, and that he'd be arrested if military person found him
-------------------------------------------------

Good . . . mercenaries were outlawed across the world until recently. It would be a good thing to outlaw them again, and this time make it stick.
posted by mk1gti at 1:51 PM on September 24, 2005


I thought that mercenaries were still outlawed and that's why we call them "contractors" instead of mercenaries. Kind of like the "advisors" who started out around Viet Nam.
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:59 PM on September 24, 2005


Of course it's hard to keep up with all the changes. I keep having to remind myself that Iraq wasn't really just about the wmd's.
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:59 PM on September 24, 2005


This is the slow and steady take over over the government by Corporations. Give the Corporations everything- health care, social security, the military, and soon corporations will be the government.

Its very sad Middle America cannot see this happening, happy in the haze of their Jesus hour.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:02 PM on September 24, 2005


soon corporations will be the government.
-----------------------------------------------------------
Hence Grover Norquist's 'I want to reduce government small enough that I can drown it in a bathtub.'

Lower and middle class conservatives don't seem to realize that they're just giving up one form of government for another, more oppresive and invasive form of government.

Too late now... Be careful what you wish for...
posted by mk1gti at 2:28 PM on September 24, 2005



If they have been deputized they are no different than the state police (highway patrol, whatever its called in your locale)

They are still required by law to get warrants, advice of Miranda rights et al.

Get your heads out of your asses people, they don't have super powers. And I think what the world needs is MORE PMC's not more worthless organizations like the UN.

(SEE SIERRA LEONE, as the prime example)
posted by CCK at 2:30 PM on September 24, 2005


This is the slow and steady take over over the government by Corporations. Give the Corporations everything- health care, social security, the military, and soon corporations will be the government.

I've been telling my Dad that for years. He thinks I'm crazy.
posted by teece at 2:39 PM on September 24, 2005


CCK: ssssllllloooowwwllllyy inserts head up own ass.
Perhaps you can show me where private military contractors are obligated to obtain warrants, advise of Miranda rights (worthless, actually) or otherwise show any respect for due process of law. You're pulling facts out of your ass, son and it shows.
posted by mk1gti at 2:42 PM on September 24, 2005


Oh, and for those of you who think you still have any rights left in this country, read this book. Really good explanation as to why Miranda rights are pretty much worthless.
You are a vessel to be searched, invaded, poked up the poopchute anytime 'the man' says so. Welcome to East Germany.
posted by mk1gti at 2:46 PM on September 24, 2005


You could make a great novel out of this situation. A private security company in the most powerful democratic country in the world, with schizophrenic ideas about the state military, gets larger and larger until its power starts to match that of the state run military. Crisis hits. A cunning, megalomaniac leader employs this company to take over security in much of the country. Things progress to the point where this leader now has his own security force controlling the country. Things are still out of control in many areas. The people cede increasing power to their dear leader in a vain attempt at security. Finally, he takes over as dictator, using his private, and very well paid, security force to enforce his power.

It Can't Happen Here.
posted by caddis at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2005



Mk1gti,
See the previous thread about gun owners in N.O. having their guns taken away and a federal court stepping in and stopping it.

IF, and I say IF they are deputies, that means they swear an oath to protect things like the LA constitution does it not?

if not, they are private citizens breaking laws and will be dealt with accordingly, by other private citizens immediately or by the court system in the future.
posted by CCK at 2:52 PM on September 24, 2005


There is a touching and quaint naivete which echoes loudly from some of the comments in this thread...
posted by clevershark at 4:07 PM on September 24, 2005


> soon corporations will be the government.

Soon?
posted by spincycle at 4:39 PM on September 24, 2005


mk1gti : "Perhaps you can show me where private military contractors are obligated to obtain warrants, advise of Miranda rights (worthless, actually) or otherwise show any respect for due process of law. You're pulling facts out of your ass, son and it shows."

Well hold on there, sonny. I dunno much about the issue from either side, but maybe you could show me where deputized private contractors are absolved from an obligation to obtain warrants, advise of worthless Miranda rights, or otherwise show any respect for due process of law. I don't think you're pulling facts out of your ass, you may have evidence for it, but from what I can see in your links, it seems clear that they aren't showing respect for due process of law, but the issue of whether they're obligated to or not isn't touched on.
posted by Bugbread at 4:47 PM on September 24, 2005


Bugbread, for what it's worth, private military contractors in Iraq sign agreements with the US government that grant them immunity to prosecution under Iraqi law. It doesn't seem outrageous to expect that Blackwater and the like are granted the same leeway to conduct their business in New Orleans.
posted by Rothko at 5:05 PM on September 24, 2005


the next thing you know this pussy will be crying for them to reinstate the 4th amendment. It's a war on terror moron, you have to decide what is more important to you, your rights or a false sense of security. Well, which is it? If you vote for the other guys they'll raise your taxes and make you marry a faggot. Does that make it easier?
posted by any major dude at 5:05 PM on September 24, 2005


Rothko : "Bugbread, for what it's worth, private military contractors in Iraq sign agreements with the US government that grant them immunity to prosecution under Iraqi law. It doesn't seem outrageous to expect that Blackwater and the like are granted the same leeway to conduct their business in New Orleans."

Understood. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying, implying, or particularly even thinking that they are under normal police or related regulations, and I think that there is a possibility that they're not. It just bothers me that mk1tgi is taking it for granted, while getting annoyed at others for taking the opposite position for granted.
posted by Bugbread at 5:21 PM on September 24, 2005


I'm not upset, just resigned to lack of oversight. Case in point below as stated in the referenced article:

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn's hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn's security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn's associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from "black gangbangers" on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. "At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner," he recalls. "I dropped the phone and returned fire."

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. "After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said."

Then, Montgomery says, "the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn't even care. They just left." Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on "how they could get out of the city." Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made.
---------------------------------------

Now it seems that if this is 'murica, the cops would show up, investigate the 'incident', relieve all affected parties of weapons (including the mercenaries involved), call ambulances to save lives, write up reports, jail offenders, etc. Instead, according to what is being related, the authorities show up, say 'what up G', G says 'nothing to see here officer, move along' and Officer says 'Oh well, that's good enough for me that you're shooting up whoever on U.S. soil with fully automatic weapons, which are in fact outlawed for use by civilians (which military contractors/former military *are*) and Deputy Dawg hops back into his cruiser and moseys along to the nearest donut shop. This is supposed to be the United States, Not Fucking Bosnia... Remember, this is supposed to be the government caring for it's citizens, not corporate employees gunning down whomever whenever with the full knowledge and expectation that they will walk away from all this with no consequences whatsoever.
We are supposed to be americans governed by an american government, not the supplicants of a corporation that has no more interest in our personal well being than a middle-ages lord does for his serfs.
posted by mk1gti at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2005




Two possible scenarios in which blackwater is operating.

1. The have been deputized. This word means something people. They are required to uphold the laws of the land they are policing.

or
2. They are acting as private citizens.

In either case, what they have done is wrong (morally) and illegal.

And call me niave Clevershark. But I believe in the long run this will be born out in a court of law.
You know like that other illegal act (confiscation of firearms) that was just stopped by a federal judge.
posted by CCK at 6:55 PM on September 24, 2005


mk1gti,

well your reading a few too many things into that article.
1. this is a quote from one person at that time. we have no way of knowing what has transpired since then.
2. I think the NO police have had so much shit going on that you tend to believe some people in incidents such as this. (note; I'm not saying this is right, just the fact right now)
3. AR-15's are not fully automatic. In no place in the article did it say they were.
4. Fully automatic weapons ARE IN FACT perfectly legal in many states in this country. (I'm not sure of their status in LA)

While I understand your outrage. it needs to be tempered with a little objectivity here.
posted by CCK at 7:02 PM on September 24, 2005


mk1gti : "fully automatic weapons, which are in fact outlawed for use by civilians (which military contractors/former military *are*)"

No, they are in fact legal in Lousiana provided that you have approval by the Department of Public Safety.

Facts, ass, pulling (all the more annoying because I agree with you that this whole Blackwater thing is a bad thing. Don't make shit up, it weakens our position).
posted by Bugbread at 7:35 PM on September 24, 2005


CCK: What would need to happen before you became outraged?
posted by cleardawn at 7:40 PM on September 24, 2005


cleardawn : "CCK: What would need to happen before you became outraged?"

That's not the important question. The important question is, what would need to happen in order for outrage without objectivity to be preferable to outrage with objectivity, which is what CCK is advocating. In my opinion, nothing. That (I believe) is one of the things that separates me from those "faith based" reality folks.
posted by Bugbread at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2005


What about Blackwater being in NO is a bad thing? What I mean by that is why should we be any more outraged because its a corporation doing these things, rather than individual citizens, or even the government?

Listen, what they appear to be doing. (I never take the nation at its word, nor FNC) is morally and legally wrong, I've already said that and I want it to be corrected. But the issue for most of you here seems to be a problem with PMC's. And that I don't understand.
posted by CCK at 8:02 PM on September 24, 2005


What I mean by that is why should we be any more outraged because its a corporation doing these things, rather than individual citizens, or even the government?

The usual complaint about corporate behavior comes down to legal accountability, especially relevant here given Blackwater is a major GOP campaign contributor.

Blackwater is already a particularly egregious abuser of local sovereignty in Iraq.

It behooves us to understand what it means for our representative government to hire private corporations to replace local and state law enforcement, when the accountability issues are unresolved — and given the dearth of public law enforcement, potentially unresolvable.
posted by Rothko at 8:53 PM on September 24, 2005


But the issue for most of you here seems to be a problem with PMC's. And that I don't understand.

To me the issue's are legion, even if Blackwater is doing everything with government consent and by the book and legally.

First thing: Blackwater mercs make, what, 2-20 times the going rate compared to Nat'l Guard or a civilian cop? That's a waste of tax payer money.

Second, I have oversight over both cops and soldiers through the people I elect. I have no such oversight with private mercs. I want the people doing government jobs to be government employees. There is an entire system of accountability and transparency built into the government, however broken it may be (and when it is broken, we can try to fix it). With private mercs, we know almost nothing about their standard operating procedures, their ability to follow regulations and police themselves, etc. They can, and do, operate with great organizational secrecy, which is extremely dangerous to democratic ideals. Indeed, as a company, they have little interest in transparency: it would be bad for business.

Lastly, a trend towards outsourcing governmental use of force for policing or soldiering duties has had demonstrably bad consequences in other countries: central Europe, Africa, south America. Civil order can get very precarious if cops and soldiers are replaced by armies of private mercs with loyalties to certain tribes (or loyalties to a paycheck), but no guaranteed loyalty to the greater country or its ideals.

The path towards mercs doing Americas policing and soldiering is a monumentally stupid path to tread, even if Blackwater is doing everything legally. And there seem to be demonstrated cases of them NOT doing it by the book in Iraq, so they are doubly troubling.
posted by teece at 9:20 PM on September 24, 2005


That is the critical question here, Blackwater is not the police, is not the State Police, is not a legal government entity, they are a corporation endorsed by a political party that has a clear and proven track record of doing everything and anything they can to subvert their own country's laws and regulations for the benefit of themselves and their contributors. For those who would like to point fingers at 'the other *insignificant* political party, show me where that other party has such a clear record over such a long period of time of working against it's own citizen's interests. This inquiring mind would like to know...
posted by mk1gti at 9:24 PM on September 24, 2005


What teece said.

At least with police there is (or should be) accountability. With mercenaries, not so much.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:55 PM on September 24, 2005


Too bad David Koresh was behind the curve on this one. Apparently private militias are the wave of the future -- he could have been a rich man.
posted by spiderwire at 11:22 PM on September 24, 2005


And for that fucking matter, where are the inner-city gangs on this one? I mean, seriously, our major problem is dealing with urban security -- would it really get any better than that? The Crips and the Bloods need to get on top of this.

I wonder if the drug money competes with what Blackwater gets paid?
posted by spiderwire at 11:25 PM on September 24, 2005


teech hit it out of the park there. The issue is ACCOUNTABILITY. And, to answer the 'taxpayer money' issue you bring up, teece -- that's what we're paying for. A rapid-response force that's not constrained by red-tape.

You can surely make an argument that sometimes that's necessary, but if it was then the Preznit could always just declare martial law. That is what you're paying for. Avoiding the PR backlash associated with martial law. Same thing in Iraq. Avoiding the PR backlash associated with Abu Ghraib.

Get your heads out of your asses people, they don't have super powers. And I think what the world needs is MORE PMC's not more worthless organizations like the UN.

(SEE SIERRA LEONE, as the prime example)


Yeah, good call. Hey, wait, that's a brilliant idea! There's no limit to the use of mercenaries as long as we're putting down civil unrest!

OK, here's the plan: We're having to compete with China and India for cheap labor, right? So why don't we contract Blackwater to take over some backwards-ass country and set up a mercenary government, and then we can try Bush's great Freedom Experiment there. We can effectively lift all their tariffs by hiding everything behind inter-corporate asset transfers. It's lucrative and democratic! Sudan could be the next Microsoftia!

I gotta get Bill Gates on the phone.
posted by spiderwire at 11:37 PM on September 24, 2005


Everyone seems to forget that historically, when countries relied on mercenaries they tend to have problems in the near future. (For example, the British in the Revolutionary War relied on German Mercenaries).
posted by dial-tone at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2005


dial-tone writes "Everyone seems to forget that historically, when countries relied on mercenaries they tend to have problems in the near future."

This administration doesn't seem like one which sets out to learn from the mistakes of the past, and therefore seems condemned to repeat them.
posted by clevershark at 11:42 AM on September 25, 2005


Everyone seems to forget that historically, when countries relied on mercenaries they tend to have problems in the near future.

Another good point, dial-tone. If you can't find citizens willing to fight your wars, and your unwilling to draft 'em (because the citizens would revolt), well, the cancer in the society and its decision making apparatus runs pretty deep.

If you can't find police and soldiers willing to rebuild a city devastated by a hurricane, well that cancer has metastasized and I wonder if survival is a realistic possibility at that point.

Luckily, mercs in NOLA seems to be a very stupid idea by FEMA, but not a necessity, or I'd think all of us American were screwed.
posted by teece at 11:43 AM on September 25, 2005


Everyone seems to forget that historically, when countries relied on mercenaries they tend to have problems in the near future.

Straight out of Machiavelli. Don't ever hire mercenaries.

Of course this bunch reads him as selectively as they do the Bible.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:28 PM on September 25, 2005


Another problem with mercenary armies vs. government armies is that their loyalty is to them what pays them, look at the medieval mercenaries of Europe as examples, as well as right up to the present day. They switch sides as often as some people change their underwear. Maybe more...
As far as Sierra Leone goes, read Robert Young Pelton's book titled Three Worlds Gone Mad for some examples of what mercenary armies actually do. In one of the instances they assaulted a village to drive off it's inhabitants so a corporation could march in and take over it's mineral resources. This wasn't just an instance of a bunch of guys with guns walking in and saying 'get the hell out', this was a full-on military assault with mortars and heavy machine guns against an unarmed village.
With mercenaries you can throw ethics and morals completely out the window. Government troops, at least for the most part, still have some degree of accountability.
posted by mk1gti at 12:32 PM on September 25, 2005


Hmm, does this mean I can hire my gun-nut friends as "mercenaries" when everything goes apocalyptic? I'll give them each $5, a uniform, water, food, and ammo. I'm going to add walkie talkies, badges, and official-looking uniforms to my collapse-of-civil-society stash. If mercenaries get free rein, then just hire your own! Everyone can play this game.
posted by beth at 1:55 PM on September 25, 2005


Where's my tinfoli hat?!!!!111 The gubment is letting their friends take over! Oh noes!!!!!!2111
posted by mrblondemang at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2005


Actually beth, your mercenaries should 'bring their own kit' for your $5.00. If your mercenaries are asking to be issued with anything other than a uniform and walkie-talkies, I would be a 'smart shopper' and ask other contractors to submit bids. Me, I wouldn't give my mercenaries anything more than what they absolutely need for the job. How do you expect to under-bid other mercenary companys? I would just feed mine raw meat and let them out of their cages when needed. . . Oh, and don't forget to shop for surplus warsaw-pact equipment, it's such a bargain these days!
posted by mk1gti at 4:18 PM on September 25, 2005



They're pickin' up the prisoners
And puttin em in a pen
Rebels been rebels
Since I don't know when
Molotov cocktail the local drink
They mix 'em up right
In the kitchen sink
Crazy people walkin round with blood in their eyes
Wild-eyed pistols wavers who ain't afraid to die
Well the government bugged the men's room
In the local disco lounge
And all she wants to do is dance, dance
To keep the boys from sellin
All the weapons they could scrounge
But that don't keep the boys from makin a buck or two
The still can sell the army
All the drugs that they can do
Well we barely make the airport
For the last plane out
As we taxied down the runway
I could hear the people shout
The said, "don't come back here Yankee"
But if I ever do
I'll bring more money

Never mind the heat
Comin off the street

/ - dancing Henley
posted by Balisong at 11:58 PM on September 25, 2005


« Older Autumn de Wilde   |   Hey Officer: Confiscate This! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post