Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bushies & Blackwater - BFF?

Ben Van Heuvelen has a nice piece in Salon about the connections between the Bush administration, a few notable Republicans and Blackwater, USA. I know, I know, you're shocked, SHOCKED to hear that the administration is in bed with one of the contractors working in Iraq. They may be anti-gay marriage, but they sure do love to cuddle:

A report issued by [Rep. Henry] Waxman on Monday alleges that State helped Blackwater cover up Iraqi fatalities. In December 2006, State arranged for the company to pay $15,000 to the family of an Iraqi guard who was shot and killed by a drunken Blackwater employee. In another shooting death, the payment was $5,000. As CNN reported Monday,the State Department also allowed a Blackwater employee to write State's initial "spot report" on the Sept. 16 shooting incident -- a report that did not mention civilian casualties and claimed contractors were responding to an insurgent attack on a convoy.

The ties between State and Blackwater are only part of a web of relationships that Blackwater has maintained with the Bush administration and with prominent Republicans. From 2001 to 2007, the firm has increased its annual federal contracts from less than $1 million to more than $500 million, all while employees passed through a turnstile between Blackwater and the administration, several leaving important posts in the Pentagon and the CIA to take jobs at the security company.

The article goes on to list several of the right-wing stateside psychos who are connected to Blackwater past & present. And how those connections have helped both groups at the expense of the American taxpayer, the Pentagon, and, oh yes, the Iraq War. Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater has more connections to the Bush administration & right-wing psychos than Cheney has to Halliburton!

[Prince's] late father, auto-parts magnate Edgar Prince, was instrumental in the creation of the Family Research Council, one of the right-wing Christian groups most influential with the George W. Bush administration. At his funeral in 1995, he was eulogized by two stalwarts of the Christian conservative movement, James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Edgar Prince's widow, Elsa, who remarried after her husband's death, has served on the boards of the FRC and another influential Christian-right organization, Dobson's Focus on the Family. She currently runs the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, where, according to IRS filings, her son Erik is a vice president. The foundation has given lavishly to some of the marquee names of the Christian right. Between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the FRC and $531,000 to Focus on the Family.

Both Edgar and Elsa have been affiliated with the Council for National Policy, the secretive Christian conservative organization whose meetings have been attended by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, and whose membership is rumored to include Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Dobson. The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave the CNP $80,000 between July 2003 and July 2006.

But what of the rest of the Blackwater band?

Joseph Schmitz, General Counsel
Joe's dad was a Republican congressman, while Joe worked for Ed Meese in Reagan's white house. In 2002, Bush nominated him to police Pentagon military contracts as DoD Inspector General. Under Joe's reign, the military contracting industry flourished as never before. He oversaw $42.1 billion flying out the door in contracts, hundreds of millions to ... yup, you guessed it, Blackwater. Joe's boss at the Pentagon? None other than Donny Rumsfeld.

J. Cofer Black, Vice Chairman
J.C. comes from the CIA, where he was in counterintelligence at the time of the 9/11 attacks. His is one of the faces behind the concept of hiding terror suspects in secret prisons for ... interrogations. He moved over to State, where he gave Blackwater a contract to train Olympic security teams for 2004. He left state to join Blackwater. Although he must have some spare time on his hands, because he's able to spend time as Mitt Romney's senior adviser for counterterrorism.

And what's a list of Blackwater's BBFs without one of everyone's favorite Republican from the 1990s - Ken Starr! Starr was kind enough to represent Blackwater as counsel in 2006. He helped out in a long-standing suit against the company by the families of the four Blackwater employees tortured & killed in 2004. Starr petitioned the Supreme Court that Blackwater was "constitutionally immune" to the lawsuit. Amazingly enough the petition was denied.

Cartoon from Zen Comix.


Blogger TomCat said...

Bush want's an honest investigation so badly that he has assigned Blackwater to guard the FBI agents investigating Blackwater.

3:17 PM  

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