Monday, September 12, 2005

The Blackwater Mercenaries

It has not gotten much press, but the hired mercenaries that are now practicing frontier justice in New Orleans are a matter of concern.

In a story on the TruthOut blog, Jeremy Scahill and Daniella Crespo write the following:

"Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago.

"What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments.

"Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees.

"As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons. This despite Police Commissioner Eddie Compass' claim that "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons.""

This piece is definitely worth a read, for more startling revelations, such as "in an hour-long conversation with several Blackwater mercenaries, we heard a different story. The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force."

Get the feeling that things are spinning out of control?

And yet, the MSM has ignored this story. Pretty much all that has been printed mirrors the Washington Post coverage of Blackwater, which explains their presence as a matter of the rich hiring Security Guards to do such things as "protecting facilities that house "priceless art pieces" and special landmarks."

Once again, we need to look to blogs to get at the truth that our press seems to be incapable of reporting on.

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