Abby Martin discusses a New York Times revelation concerning officials at Blackwater threatening to murder State Department officials, and how this is just the latest example of Blackwater’s criminal, murderous and unaccountable legacy.
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It’s no secret that the mercenaries at Blackwater (since rebranded first as Xe, now Academi) were out of control and effectively above the law in Iraq, but today’s revelation in the New York Times that they went so far as to threaten to kill the US Government’s appointed overseer of their activities still comes as something of a shock:
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Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.
American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show.
Abby Martin calls out the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart for his soft ball interview with former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, showing how the exchange between the two men only serves to whitewash the company’s history of war crimes and legal impunity.
The April 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine includes “The Warrior Class,” a feature by Charles Glass on the rise of private-security contractors since 9/11. The conclusion to the piece describes a series of videos shown to Glass by a source who had worked for the private-security company Blackwater (now Academi, formerly also Xe Services) in Iraq. Clips and photos from the videos are shown below, introduced by Glass’s descriptions: The first [video], identified as “Baghdad, Iraq, May–September 2005,” showed Blackwater convoys racing through town. Suddenly, the door of a Blackwater SUV opened and a rifle fired at passing traffic. “They opened the door,” my companion said. “You should never break the seal.”
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WASHINGTON — Four former employees of Blackwater, the scandal-plagued security firm now called Xe, have filed a $60 million class action lawsuit claiming the firm failed to pay health and pension benefits to its employees.
Their lawyer, Scott Bloch, said Wednesday that Xe improperly classified thousands of its employees as independent contractors, allowing the company to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes, withholding and payments of benefits.”
“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers,” said Bloch in a statement.
“It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Washington, and hopes to recover Social Security, unemployment insurance, health and other benefits for the four plaintiffs, all of whom were injured while working for Blackwater.
The game designers have opted to have your gun fire automatically when it hovers long enough over an enemy target. Kotaku Australia reviews the first-person-shooter Blackwater video game, out soon for Xbox Kinect and endorsed by founder Erik Prince:
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This week was the first time we heard of publisher 505 Games’ Blackwater, an FPS that would cast you in the role of Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries.
The topic seemed thorny – the mercenary company, now renamed Xe Services, has been at the center of a multiple of controversies and the subject of highly critical Congressional hearings. Blackwater has been linked to the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians, and the alcohol-fueled fatal shooting of a security guard in the employ of the country’s vice president. According to 505, the game was designed in consultation with former mercenary agents, and with Erik Prince, the founder and former head of the hot-button security contractor.
The New York Times exposes Erik Prince’s latest meddling in the Middle East:
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
There’s an unlikely story circulating on various underground news sites claiming that the controversial biotech company Monsanto has acquired infamous mercenary outfit Blackwater (now trading as Xe Services). The report apparently first appeared in La Jornada, one of Mexico City’s leading daily newspapers, described by Noam Chomsky as “the one independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere.” Pravda has translated the original Spanish text written by Silvia Ribeiro into English. From my reading of the Jeremy Scahill article that seems to form the basis of the report, the most you can deduce is that Monsanto hired the creeps at Blackwater to do dirty work for them, but the rumor keeps circulating, so could there be a grain of truth somewhere in this story?:
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A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater’s Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto.