Stand not amaz’d: the prince will doom thee death
"Nobody shot at them and nobody attacked them. They (Blackwater) just started shooting people at random. Many people died right there. I got in my car and started driving away but they kept firing heavily at me. That's when my car flipped over. I lost consciousness then. They fired at least 24 bullets in my car, four of them hit me in the back."---Hassan Jabir, Iraqi citizen (speaking with the Real News Network following the September 16, 2007 Blackwater shootings in Baghdad)
"We're a private company, and there's a key word there -- private"---Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater USA, responding to a question from Congressman Murphy (D-CT), US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, October 2, 2007.Yes, Blackwater USA has made the Big Time. Tuesday morning it was Lights! Camera! Hearings! for the private
Congressman Harry Waxman, the tireless Chairman of the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, presided over 3+ hours of Prince's testimony. While the committee was anxious to ask about the September 16th shootings of Iraqi civilians, they were constrained by the current US Dept. Justice investigation of same.
Make no mistake: there were plenty of other things to discuss. You see, after 6 years of constant war in Afghanistan and Iraq (and don't forget Haiti!), the US has found plenty of 'use' for a firm like Blackwater USA. In fact, the US government has found them so useful, they've all but put them on their speed-dial. "Break Glass in Case of Embarrassing Troop Shortfall"
And that's really the problem. It isn't just that the US is using Blackwater's 'security' personnel to supplant uniformed military service members. It's so much more than that, as the world's foremost (non-evil) Blackwater-expert, Jeremy Scahill discovered:
Need to guard an oil pipeline? Send Blackwater.
Are those Katrina evacuees gettin' ya down? Send Blackwater.
Too many I-leegals sneakin' into San Diego? Send Blackwater.
Oh! I almost forgot: Do you have a BS war you'd like to fight? Well, what if I told you that you could have the war of your dreams, without all those names read on the evening news?
Act now, sir, and we'll throw in what's left of Pinochet's old army and some death-squad veterans from Honduras. Yes, yes, I like to think of us as an 'Instant Coalition of the Willing.' We call this "The President's Package." Of course...
What? What's the catch?
Well...you understand, o'course, that we can't just give The President's Package away. Each of our guys is gonna run you 'bout 5x as much as one of your regular guys...
Aww, that's ok. You're Erik Prince! You're a Bush Pioneer!
Well, gee, that's great to hear, Mr. President. Now, there is one more thing...
Oh. Right...don't you worry about that. I'll hide you guys under the State Department. Nobody ever digs around over there, anywayz. And Bremer? Ya, he's m'boy! I'll make sure he's gotcha covered. Frankly, I can't see what could possi-Bly go wrong...
Yeah. Well...here we are, it's October 2007 and The Prince is before Waxman's Oversight Committee. Personally, I couldn't wait to hear what this guy had to say for himself, so I sat, and watched, and listened, and...typed for over 3 hours. By mid-afternoon I realized I had very nearly transcribed the testimony! And while I was tapping away in the BnR war thread (well, one of our war threads), my dear colleague skdadl was equally busy reporting on the Senate Judiciary hearing in our 'prosecutor purge' thread. With some gentle nudging from Alison@Creekside, I decided that it wouldn't be a bad idea to copy my rough Prince/Blackwater notes into my poor, neglected blog :)
This is NOT a true transcript. I did mah best, but tis rife wif tpyos. I have added links where I feel they're most necessary. If nothing else, please make sure you read about Blackwater's role in training NATO members, like, oh...I dunno...CANADA!
To proceed to my annotated notes and rough-transcript: I bring you my new sub-blog, "Foul deeds will rise"
Oh! And please take a moment to cast your mind back to Spring 2006...
April 10, 2006: President Bush takes a question from a student (VIDEO HERE)
Q Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.
THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)
Q I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. I'm -- thanks. (Laughter.)
January 14, 2007: Bush speaking to Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes
I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.(April 2006 video via Scruffy Dan)