Jeremy Scahill has an important story
in The Nation about Erik Prince, the allegedly "Christian" warrior who runs the private merc firm Blackwater. Two former Blackwater employees -- presently anonymous, for reasons soon to become clear -- have stated that Prince has murdered whistleblowers cooperating with federal investigations of Blackwater.
Prince also stands accused of weapons smuggling, destroying evidence and misleading investigators.
The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."
You can find pdfs of the sworn statements here
. Here's an interesting snippet:
9. Mr. Prince is motivated to engage in misconduct by two factors: First, he views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.Beauseant!
10. To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
The informant says that these mercenaries went on insane killing sprees, essentially murdering "ragheads" for sport. According to this statement, Prince encouraged the deployment of mentally unstable individuals -- drunk, hopped up on steroids and intent on running up massive body counts. (But still Christian
, y'know?) The psychologists who labeled the men unstable were fired.
The second force motivating Prince was, of course, greed.
16. Mr. Prince obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating the human body...
I find this accusation more than credible. Here's
a PETA piece on the tests conducted by Le Mas on pigs. And here's
a scientific study, complete with gruesome photos of what happens to the pigs. Also see the discussion here
and the report here
, which mentions Blackwater.
Let's get back to the claim that Blackwater kills snitches. One possible victim was Ciara Durkin, who served at Bagram Airfield; I've discussed her strange death in a previous post
. Her home town newspaper quoted her sister thus:
"She was in the finance unit and she said, ‘I discovered some things I don’t like and I made some enemies because of it.’ Then she said, in her light-hearted way, ‘If anything happens to me, you guys make sure it gets investigated..."
Originally, Ciara Durkin -- found with a gunshot wound to her head -- was labeled killed in action. Later, she was ruled a suicide. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy asked the Army to assent to the family's request for an indpendent autopsy -- but so far as I know, none was ever permitted. (See also here
Another possibility: The highly suspicious death of Ted Westhusing
, who also died of a gunshot wound to the head (although in this case, we have a suicide note). Westhusing, an expert in the history of military ethics, was an aide to Gerneral Petraeus.This story
, which does not mention Blackwater, says that he seemed initially to "get along well" with private contractors from a Carlyle group subsidiary called U.S. Investigations Services. That attitude changed:
Westhusing began having increasingly contentious conflicts with the contractors from USIS. There were ongoing problems with USIS’s expenses, and Westhusing was forced to deal with allegations that USIS had seen or participated in the killing of Iraqis. He received an anonymous letter claiming USIS was cheating the military at every opportunity, that several hundred weapons assigned to the counterterrorism training program had disappeared, and that a number of radios, each of which cost $4,000, had also disappeared. The letter concluded that USIS was “not providing what you are paying for” and that the entire training operation was “a total failure.”
And when the Bush administration finally succumbed (in late 2008) to pressure to investigate Blackwater, guess who was given the task of running the investigation? That's right: USIS
Of course, federal law prohibits the use of private contractors to conduct criminal investigations. Not that the law
matters any more.
(Hm. Has the Obama administration changed the situation? I think not...)