Jeremy Scahill and Naomi Wolf weigh in:
The testimony of Erik Prince, the mysterious 38-year old owner of Blackwater USA, left more questions than answers as to the company’s lawless behavior in Iraq, and what to do about its past deeds and its future.
by Jeremy Scahill
Erik Prince, the secretive 38-year-old owner of the leading US mercenary firm, Blackwater USA, has seldom appeared in public. He has never held a press conference and is only known to have given one television interview — to Fox News shortly after 9/11. When Congress called him to testify last February, he dispatched his lawyer. But on October 2, Prince found himself in front of a Congressional committee, TV cameras trained on his boyish face. The official focus of the hearing, convened by Henry Waxman’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was on two questions that should have been asked long ago: whether the government’s heavy reliance on private security contractors is serving US interests in Iraq and whether the specific conduct of Blackwater has advanced or impeded US efforts.
Blackwater: “Newly Created Thug Caste”
By Naomi Wolf on Fri Oct 5, 2007 at 08:35 am
(Naomi Wolf is the author of The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. She has written extensively about Blackwater and joins us in the comments – jh)
Congress is finally asking questions of Erik Prince, the head of Blackwater, the private mercenary organization that massacred seventeen civilians in Iraq recently. As I mentioned before, Blackwater operates in Iraq entirely outside the rule of law and has close ties to the White House. The New York Times today reported just how close – Prince’s sister-in-law is a major Bush fundraiser and ally.
What still evades the framing of this debate, though, is that the violent lawlessness perpetrated against civilians in Iraq by this newly created thug caste is a taste of what is in store for us at home – unless Congress confronts the President’s and Prince’s plans to bring Blackwater increasingly to a neighborhood near you. It is remarkable that the hearings focus on what Blackwater is doing in Iraq – but not on what Blackwater plans to and is legally able to do here in the US when the President determines there is a `public emergency’ that requires the restoration of `public order’ – a power that he arrogated more completely with the 2007 Defense Authorization Act. The second phase of the blueprint of what I have called in The End of America a `fascist shift’ is what we are beginning to see now: increasing physical intimidation of civilians and increasing staging or provocation of situations in the a federalized national guard or a Blackwater paramilitary force is sent in at the behest of a leader – over the heads of the people’s representatives – to `restore public order.’ I note that Congress is outraged that there were plans to stage a fake scenario of a dirty bomb detonation in three US cities next week – plans that were not fully revealed to Congress. The second stage of a fascist shift on the blueprint I identified in The End of America calls for disorienting public spectacles, sudden scenes of shocking violence against civilians (see the tasering of a student in Gainesville, Florida, and the death of a woman who looks like you or me in a holding cell in the Phoenix airport) and the declaration that a situation is unstable so call for a paramilitary force in order to keep the people safe.