German Arms Firm Ends Blackwater Deal After TV Report

Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch said it would end its relationship with Blackwater after German media reported that the controversial US-run military firm was using its guns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackwater, a private security company which has been contracted to protect high-profile US officials and foreign dignitaries in Iraq, had been using Heckler & Koch machine guns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, German broadcaster ARD’s “Report Mainz” program reported Monday, Feb. 19.

The German arms manufacturer contacted the program shortly before the report was aired on Monday night and said it would cut all its ties to the US firm, according to “Report Mainz.”

The German company on its Web site described its work with Blackwater as a “unique and strategic partnership” in which the two firms were cooperating to develop “special edition” firearms and offer training courses in the United States to use Heckler & Koch weapons.

Read more

Hayden Admits: Contractors Lead ‘Enhanced Interrogations’ at CIA Black Sites

Ciaprison In testimony before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Director of Central Intelligence Mike Hayden admitted to using contractors for “enhanced interrogation” at the CIA’s secret prisons, the so-called black sites.  It was an issue first raised last summer on The Spy Who Billed Me.  From Tuesday’s exchange:

FEINSTEIN:  I’d like to ask this question: Who carries out these [enhanced interrogation] techniques? Are they government employees or contractors?

HAYDEN: At our facilities during this, we have a mix of both government employees and contractors. Everything is done under, as we’ve talked before, ma’am, under my authority and the authority of the agency. But the people at the locations are frequently a mix of both — we call them blue badgers and green badgers.

FEINSTEIN: And where do you use only contractors?

HAYDEN: I’m not aware of any facility in which there were only contractors. And this came up…

FEINSTEIN: Any facility anywhere in the world?

HAYDEN: Oh, I mean, I’m talking about our detention facilities. I want to make something very clear, because I don’t think it was quite crystal clear in the discussion you had with Attorney General Mukasey.

Earlier, Senator Feinstein has asked Attorney General Mukasey whether the use of contractors in coercive interrogation techniques (i.e. enhanced interrogation techniques) is legal.  Specifically, Senator Feinstein asked:

Read more

FBI program alleged to prepare businesses for martial law

A public-private partnership program on infrastructure preparedness and protection run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly has briefed its corporate members on the possibility of martial law and the use of lethal force, according to an exclusive report in the magazine The Progressive.”One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation—and what their role might be,” writes Matthew Rothschild in the Feb. 7 report, quoting an anonymous whistleblower on the program. “‘Then they said when—not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,’ he says.”

Rothschild’s report details InfraGard, a program set up between the FBI and a number of businesses engaged in maintaining elements of “critical national infrastructure,” such as agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation. The program’s 23,000-plus members provide information to the FBI and in turn receive privileged information from the FBI on threats to infrastructure.

Read more

Connecting The Many Undersea Cut Cable Dots

by Richard Sauder

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

4 February 2008

The last week has seen a spate of unexplained, cut,  undersea communications cables that has severely disrupted communications in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. As I shall show, the total numbers of cut cables remain in question, but likely number as many as eight, and maybe nine or more.

The trouble began on 30 January 2008 with CNN reports that two cables were  cut off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, initially severely disrupting Internet and telephone traffic from Egypt to India and many points in between. According to CNN the two cut cables “account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East.“ CNN reported that the two cut cables off the Egyptian coast were “FLAG Telecom’s FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies”.(10) Other reports placed one of the cut cables, SeaMeWe-4, off the coast of France, near Marseille.(9)(12) However, many news organizations reported two cables cut off the Egyptian coast, including the SeaMeWe-4 cable connecting Europe with the Middle East.  The possibilities are thus three, based on the reporting in the news media: 1) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the coast of France, and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of Egypt, because it runs from France to Egypt; 2) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the Egyptian coast and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of France, because it runs from France to Egypt; or  3) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut both off the Egyptian and the French coasts, nearly simultaneously, leading to confusion in the reporting. I am not sure what to think, because most reports, such as this one from the International Herald Tribune, refer to two cut cables off the Egyptian coast, one of the two being the SeaMeWe4 cable,(11) while other reports also refer to a cut cable off the coast of France.(9)(12)  It thus appears that the same cable may have suffered two cuts, both off the French and the Egyptian coasts. So there were likely actually three undersea cables cut in the Mediterranean on 30 January 2008.

In the case of the cables cut off the Egyptian coast, the news media initially advanced the explanation that the cables had been cut by ships’ anchors.(10)(13) But on 3 February the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that a review of video footage of the coastal waters where the two cables passed revealed that the area had been devoid of ship traffic for the 12 hours preceding and the 12 hours following the time of the cable cuts.(5)(11) So the cable cuts cannot have been caused by ship anchors, in view of the fact that there were no ships there.

Read more

Secret CIA flights to Greenland reported

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Denmark will investigate claims that the CIA secretly used an airport on the Nordic country’s remote Arctic territory of Greenland to transport prisoners in the U.S. war on terror, the prime minister said Thursday.

Denmark, like many other European countries, began investigating reports in 2005 that the U.S. intelligence agency quietly touched down on their territory as part of the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” program.Human rights groups have criticized the practice, in which suspects are transported for interrogation to countries outside the U.S. for interrogation.

A Danish TV documentary broadcast Wednesday by the DR1 TV network claimed that prisoner flights not only used mainland Denmark’s airports and airspace but also touched down on Greenland, a semiautonomous Danish territory between Europe and North America.

“In the light of the new information, we will be looking into what happened and if need be, we will ask the Americans for explanations,” Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. He said Denmark has previously informed the United States that any unauthorized use of its airspace was “unacceptable.”

Read more

Showdown in Blackwater’s Backyard

Marshall Adame is a Democrat running for Congress in North Carolina’s 3rd District, a jurisdiction along the Tar Heel state’s low-lying eastern coast that is home to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, Air Station Cherry Point, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as Blackwater Worldwide’s 7,000-acre corporate headquarters and training facility. Adame is an underdog in the congressional race, where he will likely face seven-term Republican incumbent Walter B. Jones—who brought the term “freedom fries” to Congress—in the general election. Jones has since become an opponent of the Iraq war, atoning for his vote to authorize the war by writing letters of condolence to the families of dead soldiers—a “mea culpa to my Lord,” he says. But the incumbent and his Republican party are not the only obstacles Adame will have to overcome if he hopes to take over the 3rd District’s congressional seat. He also faces tough opposition from Blackwater.

Read more

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction

The message to you the American citizen: Do not attack Blackwater Worldwide peacefully or otherwise.
The first secret courtcases against political activists in America have been and gone. The end game has begun.
 
Meet Blackwater; Cheneys Gestapo. The army of the New World Order.(travellerev)

By Jeremy Scahill.

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

The arrest of the activists and the subsequent five days they spent locked up in jail is more punishment than any Blackwater mercenaries have received for their deadly actions against Iraqi civilians. “The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what makes for an orderly and peaceable world,” said Steve Baggarly, one of the protest organizers. “In fact, U.S. law and courts stand idly by while the U.S. military and private armies like Blackwater have killed, maimed, brutalized and destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.”

U.S. Cannot Manage Contractors In Wars, Officials Testify on Hill

With even more U.S. contractors now in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military personnel, government officials told Congress yesterday that the Bush administration is not prepared to manage the contractors’ critical involvement in the American war effort.

At the end of last September, there were “over 196,000 contractor personnel working for the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Jack Bell, deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.

Contractors “have become part of our total force, a concept that DoD [the Defense Department] must manage on an integrated basis with our military forces,” he also said in prepared testimony for a hearing yesterday of the Senate homeland security subcommittee. “Frankly,” he continued, “we were not adequately prepared to address” what he termed “this unprecedented scale of our dependence on contractors.”

Read more

The Homeland Security Campus: Repress U

by Michael Gould-Wartofsky

Global Research, January 25, 2008
The NationFree-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.
From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to “violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention”–as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name–have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.

Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is a seven-step mission:

Continue reading

US quietly demands Iraq give defense contractors, US military immunity from prosecution

US officials are dragooning Iraq into accepting immunity for US civilian contractors in new negotiations with the Iraqi government just months after a feud over a private defense contractor exploded into an international outcry.

The Bush administration insists that Baghdad give the US “broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials,” a front page story in Friday’s New York Times reports.

The Administration’s proposed security agreement would replace the current United Nations mandate authorizing the US presence in Iraq, which is set to expire Dec. 31, 2008.

Read more

Blackwater dropped blinding tear gas on Iraqis, US soldiers in 2005

Blackwater security contractors employed in Iraq dropped a blinding riot-control gas on Iraqi civilians and US military personnel on a busy Baghdad street in May 2005, according to the reporter who first broke the NSA wiretapping scandal in the New York Times.”The copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders,” James Risen writes. “An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.”

CS gas — 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile — is among the most common tear gases used by law enforcement and militaries in conflict zones.

Use of CS gas in war is prohibited by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (signed in 1993), as it could trigged retaliation with more toxic substances such as nerve gas. “A 1975 presidential order allows their use by the United States military in war zones under limited defensive circumstances and only with the approval of the president or a senior officer designated by the president,” the Times notes.

Read more

9/11 and the incompetence excuse: Could a bunch of sociopathic screw-ups really pull off the crime of the century?

By Warren Pease
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Jan 9, 2008, 00:18

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

Many who deny government complicity in 9/11/01 maintain that some of the best evidence against official involvement in the crime of the century lies in the Bush administration’s unbroken record of sheer incompetence, an argument bolstered by the perception that key members of the administration, notably The Commander Guy, spent that entire day running around like headless chickens.

On the contrary, they did no such thing. Rather, the administration was highly competent and enormously successful that day — they just had different criteria for success than would sane people. And they’ve been highly competent ever since. You just have to adjust your standards for evaluating success, then view the past six years through the PNAC/neocon lens. Let’s review some of their primary accomplishments — on 9/11 and in the six eternal years since:

Read more

Blackwater USA steps up lobbying efforts

WASHINGTON — Private-security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, which protects U.S. government officials in Iraq and faces scrutiny over its role in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians, has ramped up its lobbying representation on Capitol Hill.

Law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice was tapped by the company, whose chairman is Erik Prince, a Holland native. They’ve been hired to lobby the government on contracting and other issues, according to the form posted online Tuesday by the Senate’s public records office.

Womble Carlyle is the third lobbying firm to be hired by Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater since October.

The company has attracted considerable congressional scrutiny and criticism from the Iraqi government and human rights groups for its involvement in several dozen shooting incidents.

Read more

SPECIAL REPORT: Turning The Police State Apparatus Against Dissenters

Second major phase of the coordinated destruction of freedom in America targets those who refuse to go along with it
Turning The Police State Apparatus Against Dissenters
A sustained media propaganda campaign in support of the move to swing the apparatus of tyranny away from phantom Muslim terrorists and towards the American people is in full operation and may pave the way for further attacks on US soil to be blamed on dissenting Americans who speak out against the war and the rise of the domestic police state.

A sustained media propaganda campaign in support of the move to swing the apparatus of tyranny away from phantom Muslim terrorists and towards the American people is in full operation and may pave the way for further attacks on US soil to be blamed on dissenting Americans who speak out against the war and the rise of the domestic police state.
Over the past decade we have witnessed an extreme acceleration of the physical implementation of a framework and infrastructure ready to receive those who will not go along with a coordinated destruction of traditional American values and freedom. With 9/11 came the first opportunity of the 21st century to radically alter the mentality of America and introduce a new order of society.

The corporate media is now preparing the psyche of the American public for a second major shift. This time the effort will be to direct the understanding of the manufactured and fraudulent “war on terror”, away from “Islamofascists” and “Al Qaeda” and towards dissenting American citizens.
Over the past month or so we have highlighted this ongoing propaganda campaign in the following articles:

Read more

Vengeance, Blackwater Style: US Military and Western Mainstream Media trying to conceal War Crimes committed in Fallujah


Every time I read a story published in Western mainstream media about what transpired in Fallujah in 2004 during two US assaults on the city I feel sick.

The evidence proving that the United States committed war crimes, slaughtering innocent men, women and children is irrefutable. The US military’s use of chemical weapons is irrefutable. The destruction of a city amounting to collective punishment is irrefutable. All of this occurred because four Blackwater mercenaries were killed by Iraqis who were trying to protect their city form what we now know as “America’s Private Army”.

I have tried to understand why Western mainstream media has remained complicit in its coverage and reporting of this event, and I believe I have found the answer.

Yesterday, The Washington Times reported that “a secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows that the U.S. military thinks that it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to ‘political pressure’ that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents.” This propaganda piece continues to state that “the decision to order an immediate assault on Fallujah, in response to the televised killing of four contractors from the private military firm Blackwater, effectively prevented the Marine Expeditionary Force charged with retaking the town from carrying out ‘shaping operations,’ such as clearing civilians from the area, which would have improved their chances of success.”

Read more

Blackwater critics to Pentagon: Don’t say we didn’t warn you

Defense and legal experts issued two years worth of warnings to the Pentagon about its heavy reliance on Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq — and watched as the Defense Department continued to expand its use of the contractors, according to a new report.In a series of memos, letters and in-person meetings with high-level officials in the US and Iraq, critics had warned of a “lack of control” over the private guards, writes the the Washington Post‘s Steve Fainaru. But despite a growing number of incidents in which Blackwater employees allegedly shot and killed Iraqi civilians, the US government was slow to act.

“We set this thing up for failure from the beginning,” a retired Marine colonel who advised Iraqi military forces in 2004 told the Post. “We’re just sorting it out now…I still think, from a pure counterinsurgency standpoint, armed contractors are an inherently bad idea, because you cannot control the quality, you cannot control the action on the ground, but you’re held responsible for everything they do.”

Read more

Ok one more; Disputed in Iraq, Blackwater Now Splits California Town

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

A sign addresses the recall on members of the planning board in Potrero, Calif.

More Articles by Solomon Moore”>SOLOMON MOORE

Published: December 11, 2007

POTRERO, Calif. — The scandal in Iraq involving
the private security firm, is a world away from this tiny town near the Mexican border. But five members of the community’s planning group are expected to lose their posts on Tuesday for approving a Blackwater training camp on an old chicken farm here.

Read more

Blackwater’s Bu$ine$$

By Jeremy Scahill

Gunning down seventeen Iraqi civilians in an incident the military has labeled “criminal.” Multiple Congressional investigations. A federal grand jury. Allegations of illegal arms smuggling. Wrongful death lawsuits brought by families of dead employees and US soldiers. A federal lawsuit alleging war crimes. Charges of steroid use by trigger-happy mercenaries. Allegations of “significant tax evasion.” The US-installed government in Iraq labeling its forces “murderers.” With a new scandal breaking practically every day, one would think Blackwater security would be on the ropes, facing a corporate meltdown or even a total wipeout. But it seems that business for the company has never been better, as it continues to pull in major federal contracts. And its public demeanor grows bolder and cockier by the day.

Read more

Exit the patsy: Ex-Cheney aide Libby to drop appeal in CIA leak case

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is dropping his appeal in the CIA leak case, his attorney said Monday.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction for lying about his conversations with reporters about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame.

“We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby’s innocence,” attorney Theodore Wells said. “However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear.”

Read more

9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon

If the 9/11 commision doen’t believe the crap they’ve been fed than why should you?

By Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006; Page A03

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.