Who could possibly have suspected this? A Beltway-wired mercenary company hired by the American government to act as freebooting muscle in the war of aggression against Iraq has been accused -- in sworn affidavits from company insiders -- of operating a murder and gun-running racket in order to push its hard-right owner's religious extremism. Can such a thing even be contemplated? Why, the next thing you know, they'll be telling us that good, clean-limbed, all-American agents used KGB-derived torture tactics against helpless captives or something!
And yet, incredible as it may seem, insiders from the company once known as Blackwater (and now going under the brand-name disguise of Xe) have given sworn statements implicating the company and its founder, Eric Prince, in killing Iraqi citizens for God and profit (as if there were any difference between the two amongst our gilded militarists), running guns to various militant factions in the conquered country -- and murdering potential witnesses who might testify in investigations of Blackwater's nefarious doings.
The intrepid Jeremy Scahill is on the case in The Nation (here, via Anti-war.com). Scahill has been on Blackwater's case for a long time, penetrating deep into the bowels of the military-industrial-security complex that dominates, by bribery and brute force, the American political system. This is truly courageous work on Scahill's part, for not a few incisive divers in these murky waters have woken up dead over the years.
In his latest report, Scahill has unearthed some scathing testimony against Blackwater and its well-connected founder. You should read the whole piece, but here are just a few key highlights:
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-U.S. Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”
...These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct.
...The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.”
...he two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:
To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”
...Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, “were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department.” Doe #2 adds that “Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis.” Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy “unfit men” and sent them back to the U.S. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were “the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,’” as well as “excessive drinking” and “steroid use.” However, when the men returned to the U.S., according to Doe #2, “Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to ’stop costing the company money.’”
...Doe #1 states that “Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians.” He concludes, “Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct.” Doe #1 states that he “personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.” He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or “seriously” wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.
...Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince “made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis.” Specifically, he alleges that Prince “obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis.”
...Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy.
In that last paragraph, we see how the merging of militarism with the rapacious crony capitalism that has brought the world economy to its knees. Prince -- and many, many other operators in the shadowlands where crime, terror, corruption, covert ops and high affairs of state all mix and mingle -- have been able to use the collapse of regulatory power over high finance to hide their criminal activities and war atrocities. What we have seen over the past few decades, in fact, is the expansion of the BCCI system -- "the largest criminal organization in the history of the world," as the US Senate called it -- into the "normative" system of global affairs: the "way of the world." For a much more detailed look at this system, please see The Bomb in the Shadows: Proliferation, Corruption and the Way of the World.
What will come of these latest sworn allegations against Blackwater? A very likely scenario is that nothing will happen: Scahill's story will be swept away by the tsunami of trivia and idiocy that swamps the American political discourse day after day, year after year, and Blackwater - or Xe, or whatever new moniker the company's PR whizzes come up with -- will continue to gorge itself on public money and innocent blood in various countries around the world.
Or who knows? It may be that Prince and his boys have ended up on the wrong side of some factional tussle in the imperial backrooms, and will be trussed up as a sacrifice -- one of the periodic burnt offerings our leaders make to make the rubes back home believe that "the system still works." In some ways, this would be unjust; after all, Blackwater was just doing exactly what it was sent to do in Iraq -- which was exactly what the American military was sent to do in Iraq: i.e., kill a bunch of "ragheads" and impose America's "unipolar domination" on world affairs. Or, as Thomas Friedman put it with his customary eloquence, to tell the Ay-rabs to "Suck. On. This." Why should Eric Prince be punished for playing such a key role in what no less than Barack Obama himself has called "an extraordinary achievement" in Iraq?
Again, it is likely that Prince and Blackwater will get away clean, or at most with a light wrist tap for some minor infractions here and there. But even if they are found guilty of these heinous accusations, it is certain that the true architects of the mass murder of more than one million innocent human beings in Iraq -- who would be be alive today if not for the American invasion and the continuing occupation -- will never pay for their vastly greater crimes.
And the system that spawned these crimes will go on and on, "surging" into new atrocities and unnecessary deaths around the globe -- even while praising itself constantly, obsessively, pathologically, as a "force for peace" in the world.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on August 6, 2009.