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Institute for Truth Studies

John ellis water

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A Look at President Bush's Private Army

The Bush administration has its own private army operating inside Iraq that is not accountable to Congress or the American people..


By Pat Shannan

One of the most frightening developments in the occupation of Iraq and the so-called “War on Terror” is actually something most of the American people have never heard of. In addition to the 150,000 troops on the ground in Iraq, the Bush administration has deployed a shadow army of some 100,000 contractors. Of these tens of thousands of heavily armed mercenaries that roam Iraq with impunity, among the most powerful of the companies involved is Blackwater USA, a secretive company headquartered in the wilderness woods of North Carolina.

It is headed by a bankroller of President Bush and his allies, Erik Prince. Blackwater considers itself the “Fed Ex” of the national security apparatus, but the reality is that Blackwater has become a prime player in the War on Terror and is nothing short of the Bush administration’s Praetorian Guard.

Prince, 39, became an instant billionaire when his father, Edgar, passed away in 1995. He had developed Prince Manufacturing, a leader in automotive innovation over the years, and became best known for his invention and development of the lighted vanity mirror now found behind nearly every sun visor in every American car.

Blackwater USA largely operated in the shadows of the U.S. war machine, until the morning of March 31, 2004, when four Blackwater contractors were ambushed and killed in the city of Fallujah, Iraq. Their bodies were burned and dragged through the streets. Two of the mercenaries were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

For most people, it was the first that they ever heard of private military contractors operating in Iraq. That was the day the war turned. Unlike Somalia, when the Clinton administration pulled out, the Bush Administration initiated a massive revenge attack. The American army laid siege to the city of Fallujah, killed hundreds of people, displaced tens of thousands of others and in the process enflamed the Iraqi resistance that haunts the American occupation forces to this day.

Unofficial estimates now claim over one million Iraqi civilians have died since the U.S. occupation in 2003.

The Bush administration came to power with a radical privatization agenda. “We see it in our schools, prisons, healthcare systems and law enforcement in the United States,” says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, who has taken on exposing the Blackwater secrets with a vendetta. “The occupation of Iraq and the War on Terror have brought the greatest privatization of warfare in modern history.”

Blackwater USA has become one of the most powerful private actors in the so-called war on terror, and it provides the Bush administration with an extraordinary amount of political cover. The deaths of Blackwater contractors and other mercenaries are not included in the total death count, even though estimates place it at around 1,000 killed In Iraq. Their injuries do not get calculated either, and their crimes do not get punished.

“What we have here is a revolving door” reports Scahill. “Blackwater and other companies benefit the Bush administration, and in turn the Bush administration and its allies in congress protect the shielded military contractors from any effective oversight, any effective accountability, and effective legal system. The operations are shrouded in secrecy, and people in Congress find it almost impossible to get any information about Blackwater and other companies in operation.”

Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) expressed her frustration:

“We know virtually nothing about this. We think that about 40 cents of every dollar goes to private military contractors. We think about 800 of them have been killed in Iraq, but we don’t know that, they’re not even counted. We think that about 25,000 to 40,000 have been engaged in military activities and combat related activities, but we don’t know, and we can’t find out.”

Blackwater USA has 2,300 men actively deployed in nine countries around the world. They have another 20,000 “contractors” at the ready. Scahill says that while Blackwater is operated in Iraq and Afghanistan, it increasingly has its sights set on deployments inside the United States. It is setting up a new facility in Illinois and another one in California.

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