Protest the TSA, and Avoid Flying

A lot of this bullshit article by the AP doesn’t add up. Written with an anti-populist sneer, the article states:

Despite tough talk on the Internet, there was little if any indication of a passenger revolt Monday at many major U.S. airports, with very few people declining the X-ray scan that can peer through their clothes.

As well as claiming:

Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable.

According to the article, most people don’t care, hell they don’t mind being molested by TSA officials and feel all warm and cuddly about it.

And yet…

A loosely organized Internet campaign is urging people to refuse the scans on Wednesday in what is being called National Opt-Out Day. The extra time needed to pat down people could cause a cascade of delays at dozens of major airports, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

If so few people care or are taking action, how will it cause a “cascade of delays”?

“Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays,” said Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, which has warned its more than 8,000 members about delays. “It doesn’t take much to mess things up anyway.”

Bullshit. They are worried about many people choosing to skip the scan. And not because of the delay. Because with every additional scan they run the risk of more news stories like this one (they broke a man’s prosthetic and left him drenched in his own urine), or this one(patting down a 3-year old child), or this one(a woman is “patted down” underneath her underwear). The negative PR over this is shooting through the roof.

The article’s language (“loosely organized Internet campaign” and “tough talk on the Internet”) screams an aloofness – a desire to minimize the validity and impact of a visceral reaction to police state tactics at the airport. Idiotic politicians are taking one of two routes – use this mess to advocate profiling (guess who… Republicans), or take the time to actual defend this bullshit (you guessed it,Obama). This leaves us with an increasing disconnect between a stressed public who are being subjected to unreasonable and illegal procedures. The pat downs are essentially sexual assault. The scans don’t inspire confidence either from a privacy or a health standpoint (has not seen independent evaluations is technicalese for – the data thus far is just biased jack).

The TSA chief worries about people boycotting the scans. If you must fly, boycott them, slow the line down. Make a statement. Or make a bigger statement by avoiding air travel at every opportunity. That’s what I’m doing. Because when you factor in the cost, unpleasant nature of the cramped seats (coupled with too large passengers), time to and from the airport, time waiting at the airport, risk of getting molested by the tsa, radiation exposure, and the hassle of the security line… Is it really worth the trouble?

Boycott the TSA, boycott the scans, if you get molested let them know “if they touch you inappropriately you will seek all available legal recourse”. Boycott flying. Raise a ruckus.

Republican President Set to Strike

Today is the anniversary of the day a Republican President let partisanship cloud his judgement, and ignored the report stating “Bin Laden set to strike”.  The day the myth of Republicans as stewards of national security was shattered with finality.

Since then we’ve seen Democrats lay down or assist a Republican party bent on trading their own power for our security.  From the tragic blunder of Iraq to the wholesale evisceration of our constitutionally protected civil rights, we’ve watched our government become hostile to us.

Take a moment and chalk up the crimes, the blatant violations of the constitution and our trust, that the Bush administration has perpetrated utterly free of any consequences.

Angry yet?  Don’t forget to vote this November.  We need to send the incumbent ideology packing with a stinging welt on its ass.

Graphic by Tengrain of MockPaperScissors, Memory and political attention span beyond a week by Blue Gal.

PS Its two days till the Accountability NOW PAC Moneybomb.

Dear Obama: Listen!

Please listen to Jamelle!  (US of Jamerica):

Obama’s little riff here basically sums up his foreign policy approach.  I actually wish he would use this language to challenge John McCain’s national security “credentials,” since it’s a pretty effective characterization.

Barack’s language is right on, and applies neatly to foreign policy.  From the difference between talking tough and needing to act out, to the wisdom of walking away and “saving it for when you need it”.  These points, especially given the state of our military and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran(Pending Cheney pressing a big red button while Congress just watches), hit home in an easily understandable way.

What was in Obama’s Passport File?

And what is in mine? (Bloomberg, emphasis mine, odd quoting theirs):

“Passport files do not contain travel information, such as visa and entry stamps, from previous passports,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “Almost all passport files contain only a passport application form as submitted by the applicant.”

Whose passport files would contain more information, and for what purpose?

McCain’s Dismal Foreign Policy Expertise

John McCain is going to run as an expert on foreign policy, an experienced heavyweight with security his centerpiece strength.

Which makes this pretty fucking alarming (via Greg Saunders at TMW, emphasis mine):

The foolishness of this John McCain “gaffe”, to use the media’s favorite understatement, should terrify anyone who actually thinks the commander-in-chief should have a basic understanding of the wars we’re fighting :

Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran.He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear. McCain then said: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.”

Wow. If foreign policy is supposed to be the area in which McCain is an expert, I’m terrified of what he might do to the economy.

McCain’s being transparent.  He wants to yell “boo, Al-Qaeda!” when pressed with a foreign policy question, even when it makes less than zero sense to do so.  If McCain’s experience amounts to staring at a wall while people whisper the answers in his ear he’d better come up with another angle to market his presidency.

Time Lies for Big Brother

Time Magazine has written an irresponsible article that manufactures indifference.  Via Slashdot, Glenn Greenwald has the scathing lowdown:

No matter how corrupt and sloppy the establishment press becomes, they always find a way to go lower. Time Magazine has just published what it purports to be a news article by Massimo Calabresi claiming that “nobody cares” about the countless abuses of spying powers by the Bush administration; that “Americans are ready to trade diminished privacy, and protection from search and seizure, in exchange for the promise of increased protection of their physical security”; and that the case against unchecked government surveillance powers “hasn’t convinced the people.” Not a single fact — not one — is cited to support these sweeping, false opinions.

Worse still — way worse — this “news article” decrees the Bush administration to be completely innocent, even well-motivated, even in those instances where technical, irrelevant lawbreaking has been found, as it proclaims:

In all the examples of diminished civil liberties, there are few, if any, where the motivating factor was something other than law and order or national security.

Does Calabresi or his Time editors have the slightest idea how secret, illegal spying powers have been used, towards what ends they’ve been employed and with what motives? No, they have absolutely no idea. Not even members of Congressional Intelligence Committees know because the Bush administration has kept all of that concealed. So Time just makes up facts to defend the Bush administration with wholly baseless statements that one would expect to come pouring out of the mouths only of Dana Perino and Bill Kristol — the “motivating factor” for secret, illegal spying was nothing “other than law and order or national security.”

This goes beyond simply making false assertions.  A claim like this actively influences our domestic policy.  If enough papers uncritically picked up on this story suddenly any idea of public pressure on domestic spying would be met with ridicule.  Weak politicians who would only support efforts to fight the repeated violations of our rights by the Bush administration would find no pressing need to do so.

It is not surprising that this is the view of Bush followers, but it’s also the predominant view of our ornery watchdog journalists as well. The Founders envisioned that the media would be the watchdog over government deceit and corruption, but nobody is more aggressive in dismissing concerns of government lawbreaking and deceit than the Time Magazines of our country. That’s their primary function.

That function is antithetical to Democracy and the proper role of the press.

Hillary’s Fear Ad and Obama’s Response

Hillary’s latest ad is badass. The essential equation is “Won’t somebody think of the children” + fear. The straight up honesty involved in such a tact is refreshing. Hillary Clinton is going to manipulate the shit out of you running for office, and if elected, will continue to do so. How very McCain “liberal conservative” of her. Via Pam at Pandagon(text quoted from ABC) :

“It’s 3:00am and your children are asleep,” the voice over says. “There’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call.”

Whether someone knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead. It’s 3am and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?”

Obama’s response video provides an alternative appeal. The strange idea that more than having any experience, it is having the correct experience that counts:

It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone ringing in the White House.  Something’s happening in the world. When that call gets answered, shouldn’t the president be the one – the only one – who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start… Who understood the REAL threat to America was al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Who led the effort to secure loose nuclear weapons around the globe… In a dangerous world, it’s judgment that matters. I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message..”

Experience is a liability if you’ve made the wrong decisions. Barack Obama’s ad makes that a central point in this campaign, and one that will be of equal use when he faces off against McCain in November.

US Govt: Your Laptop, NOW

This pisses me off.  Our government is mugging travelers and taking their laptops, the better to snoop with.  (Slashdot, emphasis mine):

Angus McKraken brings us a Washington Post story about how travelers are seeking more well-defined policies and rules about the search and seizure of electronic devices by U.S. Customs officials. The EFF has already taken legal action over similar concerns. We recently discussed the related issue of requiring people to disclose their passwords in order to search their private data. From the Post: “Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had ‘a security concern’ with her. ‘I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight,’ she said. ‘I was assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days,’ said Udy, who continues to fly into and out of the United States. She said the federal agent copied her log-on and password, and asked her to show him a recent document and how she gains access to Microsoft Word. She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access. With ACTE’s help, she pressed for relief. More than a year later, Udy has received neither her laptop nor an explanation.

Maybe bullshit like this will end up on the TSA’s sloppy PR blog.  Its purportedly there to answer questions:

The federal government wants to hear — or at least read — your gripes at the “Evolution of Security” blog the Transportation Security Administration introduced Wednesday. And it promises those complaints and suggestions won’t vanish into thin air.

The blog, at, is getting a rather “blah” response from aviation analysts and passengers advocates who say it will do little to improve process or perception.

“This will just make it easier for them to receive complaints for them to ignore in the name of national security,” said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association.

Perhaps they can explain how this is anything other than blatant data theft.

McCain the Warlord

With all the talk of the “independent vote” McCain is snapping up, it’ll be easy to get swept up in the media glow and view the man as a sane, reason-governed paragon of virtue. As a compromise candidate for a Republican field racked by distasteful failures and disunity.

John’s stance on war is not sane. We’ll do well as an electorate to remember this (ThinkProgress):

NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” Still photographs provided by the military to NBC News seemed to show McCain wearing a bulletproof vest during his visit.

McCain recently claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.

Catch that?  Walking through a market with 100 soldiers, helicopters and gunships, and a bulletproof vest, is walking freely.  This man doesn’t see the same world we live in.  So comments like these really make me shiver (Huffington Post):

Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.” Offering more of his increasingly bleak “straight talk,” he repeated the claim: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.”

Iran?  Syria?  Where will Jolly old McCain drag this country next?  Is he prepared for the cost of war?

“And right now – we’re gonna have a lot of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] to treat, my friends,” he said. “We’re gonna have a lot of combat wounds that have to do with these terrible explosive IEDs that inflict such severe wounds. And my friends, it’s gonna be tough, we’re gonna have a lot to do.”

We are no friends of John McCain.  Friends don’t look into the heart of war’s consequences, into shattered spines and amputated legs, into children with hairline fractures in their personalities, and say “it’s gonna be tough”.  These are the words of men who inject us with fear and then offer to sell us security at the sale price of our rights and dignity as a nation.

And this man wants to be our next President.

Lying US into Iran

US Officials edited video and flat out lied in an effort to make Iran appear to be a danger to us.  Via Johnathen Schwarz at TMW:

Are you the kind of weirdo who thinks Congress should investigate when the Pentagon essentially fabricates a video of U.S. ships being “threatened” by Iran? Just because it could, you know, lead to a massive war based on lies? (Gareth Porter has an excellent run down of how things happened, here.)

If you are such a weirdo, you can contact Congress via Just Foreign Policy.

From the article (emphasis mine):

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them.

Further undermining the U.S. version of the incident is a video released by Iran Thursday showing an Iranian naval officer on a small boat hailing one of three ships. 

That didn’t stop US Officials from presenting a very different story:

The dramatic version of the incident reported by U.S. news media throughout Tuesday and Wednesday suggested that Iranian speedboats, apparently belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy, had made moves to attack three U.S. warships entering the Strait and that the U.S. commander had been on the verge of firing at them when they broke off.

Typical of the network coverage was a story by ABC’s Jonathan Karl quoting a Pentagon official as saying the Iranian boats “were a heartbeat from being blown up”. 

The rest of the article goes into even more detail, how parts of the messages received might not have even come from the Iranian patrol ships.

This hollow manipulation of the public trust to push us into another war, when we are already short troops for our side adventure in Iraq and are unable to contribute needed troops to Afghanistan, shows how purely incompetent the Republican approach to security is.  An approach, I might add, that every Republican save for the only isolationist in the race has endorsed, and the presumed front runner in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton, has helped enable.

This story may or may not catch fire in the press, but there is something deeply wrong with any candidate who does not seize it and make a relevant message of truth and trust a part of their campaign.

DADT: Every Republican Candidate’s Failure

Augustin Cline has a brilliant post up at Jesus’ General. It is about the wholesale failure of the entire Republican side of the 2008 race to take the right stand on openly Gay Americans in the military.  This issue is sharply divided along partisan lines:

Every Republican candidate is on record as supporting the current policy and not allowing gays to serve openly in the military; one suspects that they would oppose gays serving in the military at all if they could only think of how to get away with it. Every Democratic candidate is on record as supporting the elimination of this policy and opening the ranks to gays who are out of the closet.

The argument behind don’t ask don’t tell is one of desperately convoluted logic (emphasis mine):

The status of gays in the military also sharpens the conflict between reality and conservatives’ wishful thinking: by allowing closeted gays to serve, conservatives are unable to argue that there is something intrinsically wrong with the presence of gays themselves. Only publicly gay people are a “problem,” and somehow the revelation of one’s sexual orientation — not their behavior, just their orientation — causes them to go from being a model of military discipline to troublemaker who has to be drummed out of the service. Only the desperately homophobic can accept this at face value.

The cost of DADT is well documented.  We are losing very capable soldiers, translators, and other vital personel to salve the open sore that is religious conservatism in this country.  And the Republicans are all too willing to have that much in common with the same religious radicals we are supposed to be fighting:

Better to live in chains than let queers out of the closet, that’s the motto of the Republican Party — and perhaps more than a few religious extremists living in caves in the Middle East.

Homophobia is tangibly hurting this country.  No candidate who supports Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has an ounce of credibility on security issues.  The only thing they’ve shown us is how far they will go, how deeply they will betray our confidence in the service of an illogical hatred.

Fuck Democracy: We Make Us Less Safe


On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

They’ve done this every fucking time something “slips” about their rank abuse of civil liberties and human rights. And every fucking time they are dead wrong:

  • We know the US tortures its prisoners. What we didn’t know was that the Justice department publicly criticized torture while privately condoning it. How is the approval of White House legal compromising anything?
  • The idea that the public’s knowledge of this administration’s actions is somehow dangerous is itself a direct attack on the American people. We put those fuckers in office, they are there to serve us, and we have the right and responsibility to know what they are doing in our name!
  • It is transparent and convenient every time they pull it. Oh really? The administration did something awful, and revealing it makes us less safe? Imagine that.

And of course Bush justifies this in terms of “protecting” us:

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Your job is so much more than providing security. You aren’t the national chief of police. You are the President.

And even if we accepted your patronizing argument, it fails on its own merits. Torturing prisoners makes the world less safe for Americans. Especially if you allow torture of Americans. Suddenly the US is viewed, correctly, as an imperialist nation ruling with fear and steel. We become a nation of thugs, and God help any of our citizens captured by hostile forces.

You are the worst excuse for a President this country has ever suffered through. 2008 can’t come soon enough. And when it does, we’re sending your criminal ass to the slammer for life.

Blackwater: Reckless Shootings

Top American mercenary corporation Blackwater is in hot water over their self reported recklessness (Sue Pleming, Reuters):

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. security contractor Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq since 2005 and, in eight of 10 cases, their forces fired first, a leading U.S. lawmaker said on Monday.

And who watches the for profit watchmen?

Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, released details from Blackwater’s own reports of multiple incidents involving Iraqi casualties. The memorandum also slammed the State Department’s oversight of the company.

Not the State Department. A Democratic Representative with backbone.

Blackwater, which has been paid a little over $1 billion by the U.S. government since 2001, declined to comment on Waxman’s memorandum.

The State Department commented in usual Bush administration fashion: through damning actions (emphasis mine):

“It appears that the State Department’s primary response was to ask Blackwater to make monetary payments to put the ‘matter behind us’ rather than to insist upon accountability or to investigate Blackwater personnel for potential criminal liability,” said the memorandum.

Wow that sounds sketchy. Apparently Iraqi lives are worth 15,000 when murdered by Blackwater employees:

The State Department’s charge d’affaires recommended Blackwater make a “sizeable payment” and an “apology.” Waxman noted the State Department’s diplomatic security said that was too much and eventually Blackwater agreed on a $15,000 payment.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey declined to comment on specifics listed by Waxman but said the department was “scrupulous” in its oversight of all contractors.

I wonder how much money our citizens are worth? (Naomi Wolf, via pecunium, Majikthise)

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.’

Will any Blackwater employees be made to pay for their crimes? And will the US government continue paying these recklesly violent mercenaries for their services?

Viewing the Candidates Through the Iran Vote

Here is why liberals cannot believe a word of Hillary’s talk on Iraq (Nezua, Unapologetic Mexican):

Here she goes again, authorizing war. I’m just curious…what will she say later, when the obvious disaster that bombing Iran would bring about has the People furious, out in the street, and demanding accountability? That she was duped? Again? That we ALL thought Iran was a grave threat?

This is damning. What will she say? Hillary took a long time, longer than any of the other candidates, to even come around in the weakest of ways as an anti-war candidate (if you can call her nuanced position even that). And now she goes and preps this nation for another round of blood, money, and perhaps even nuclear waste. Also notable was Obama’s brave abstention from the vote. What the fuck is that about? Cowardice. Unable to take a stand and get nailed to an issue as (gasp) having a position, Obama joined McCain in staying silent and ineffective.

And for all the talk about experience, well, here’s that argument shot to shit. Hillary has mountains of experience, and look at her vote! Now contrast that with freshman senator Webb (via Florida Democrat at Dailykos):

Senator Webb’s video at Think Progress urging a vote against this Amendment:…

We haven’t had one hearing on this. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee, I’m on the Armed Services Committee. We are about to vote on something that may fundamentally change the way the United States views the Iranian military and we haven’t had one hearing. This is not the way to make foreign policy. It’s not the way to declare war.

This is no way to lead, and no way to be a Democrat. It is a great way to drive us into another dangerous war even as we stretch our military to the breaking point losing two others in the region. At what point does the blatant disregard for the practical detriment to our security become enough of a crisis for us to end this madness? You’ll notice how many Senators, Republicans and Democrats, voted for this to pass.

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Senator. Talk to a staff person. If you don’t get through Call or Email them directly.

Let your local candidates know they have won your active opposition in the future. Let’s do everything we can to keep the Hillarycrats and the Republicans from one more term of power. This nation cannot afford it.

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.