American Mercenaries and the Death of Law

Blackwater mercenaries:  Coming to an American neighborhood near you (pecunium at Majikthise, emphasis mine):

The reports out of New Orleans, that Blackwater had been deputised to provide security, were worrisom.

Then I see things like this piece by Naomi Wolff which is about the ways in which Blackwater is positioning istelf to get more work in the states.

What is Blackwater? According to reporter Jeremy Scahill, the firm has 2,300 private soldiers deployed in nine countries, and maintains a database of an additional 21,000 to call upon at any time. Blackwater has over ‘$500 million in government contracts — and that does not include its secret “black” budget…’ One congressman pointed out that in terms of its manpower, Blackwater can overthrow ‘many of the world’s governments.’ Recuiters for the company seek out former military from countries that have horrific human rights abuses and use secret police and paramilitary forces to terrify their own populations: Chileans, Peruvians, Nigerians, and Salvadorans.

Blackwater is coming home to Main Street, and one of our key constitutional protections is at stake. The future for growth is directed at increased deplyment in the US in cases of natural disaster — or in the event of a ‘public emergency.’ This is a very dangerous situation, of course, now that laws have been passed that let the President decide on his say-so alone what a ‘public emergency’ might be.

The Department of Homeland Security hired these same Blackwater contractors to patrol the streets of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — for a contract valued at about $73 million. Does Blackwater’s reputation for careless violence against civilians in Iraq, protected by legal indemnification, matter to us? Scahill reports at least one private contractor’s accounts of other contractors’ abrupt shooting in the direction of American civilians in the wake of Katrina: ‘After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped.’

How protected is Blackwater from prosecution for its crimes? The company’s lawyers argue that Blackwater can’t be held accountable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, because they aren’t part of the US military; but they can’t be sued in civil court, either — because they are part of the US military.

The thought of armed mercs with a history of violence and terror patrolling our streets, convinced they have the authority to detain, the authority to act as officers of the law, is really fucking frightening.  pucinium’s reaction is understandable at a visceral level:

I’m spending more time at the range than I used to, and if Blackwater comes to my part of town, well that’s it, you’d better believe there’s a civil disturbance, because at that point I’ll be in revolt.

Before it comes to that, we might want to remind our congress critters, our senators, the newspapapers; and everyone we can think of, that USC Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 118 § 2441 is out there, and see about using it.

Blackwater maintains its employees are above the law (with our government’s support!), and has a history of violence and murder:

I was amazed, actually, that the problem of Order 17 (Paul Bremer’s diktat that contractors were immune from Iraqi prosecution) didn’t come to a head sooner, when this happened.

In December, a Blackwater employee shot and killed one of the vice president’s guards without provocation, Iraqi officials say. The employee left Iraq and no longer works for Blackwater.

Imagine that happening here (one of Dick Cheney’s Secret Service detail being  shot dead by the private bodyguard of the Ambassador of anywhere), and the only thing happening is the guy, “is no longer in [the United States].”

Yeah, right.

And there’s more:

Or this,

BAGHDAD — The Blackwater incidents cited by Iraq’s Interior Ministry as reason for the security firm to be barred from operating in Iraq include the deaths of four people with ties to Iraq’s government-funded television network.

The first of those was the Feb. 2 shooting death of Suhad Shakir, a reporter with the Al Atyaf channel, as she was driving to work. She died outside the Foreign Ministry near the Green Zone, where top U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work.

B lackwater employees murdered a journalist.  Who is to say they won’t pull the same stunt here?  Here is an except of Lindsay’s encounter with some Blackwater employees in the US (Majikthise):

When I looked in their eyes, I felt something entirely new to me–a basic mammalian sense of dread. It was as if some part of my brainstem came alive and said: “These people are predators. They would kill you.”

These mercenaries were nothing like the lunger. In fact, they weren’t overtly threatening, or outwardly aggressive. Actually, some of them were friendly in their own twitchy dead-eyed way.

As soon as I got out of sight and back to the rental car, I started shivering and didn’t stop for almost an hour.

In retrospect, I realize that I only dared to approach these guys because of a naive faith that I was an unarmed US journalist in the USA.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a society where these guys were around every corner, unbound by the rule of law.

I can.  Suddenly the appeal of mercenaries, especially for domestic security, becomes absolutely clear.  Individuals who are not bound by normal human emotions or ethics employed in a way to minimize or eliminate any recourse through the courts, military or civilian.  Blackwater represents an authoritarian’s  dream come true.  And every bit of power and legitimacy they obtain makes opposing them all the harder, and stopping their abuse of human rights an uphill battle.

The image was taken from unitedcats:

One last thing that concerns me. Do we want private American armies in the USA? The above picture of Blackwater Mercenaries was taken in New Orleans.

In the markedly vain hope somewhere in our leadership there remain those with, if not wisdom, then at least good sense, I’ll offer up a few words from an old hand at politics and war:  Machiavelli:

Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you.

And these prescient words should chill you with the cold air of familiarity (emphasis mine):

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way.

American employed mercenaries, abroad and at home, represent a grave and present threat to our safety, our freedom, and the rule of law.

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2 Responses

  1. In Puerto Rico is DynCorp, you know the corp that got caught trafficking in children in the Balkans.

  2. […] American Mercenaries and the Death of Law […]

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