Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blackwater Steals Guns From U.S.

From an article at The Washington Independent by Spencer Ackerman:
Employees of the CIA-connected private security corporation Blackwater diverted hundreds of weapons, including more than 500 AK-47 assault rifles, from a U.S. weapons bunker in Afghanistan intended to equip Afghan policemen, according to an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee. On at least one occasion, an individual claiming to work for the company evidently signed for a weapons shipment using the name of a “South Park” cartoon character. And Blackwater has yet to return hundreds of the guns to the military.

A Blackwater subsidiary known as Paravant that until recently operated in Afghanistan acquired the weapons for its employees’ “personal use,” according to committee staffers, as did other non-Paravant employees of Blackwater. Yet contractors in Afghanistan are not permitted to operate weapons without explicit permission from U.S. Central Command, something Blackwater never obtained. A November 2008 email from a Paravant vice president named Brian McCracken, obtained by the committee, nevertheless reads: “We have not received formal permission from the Army to carry weapons yet but I will take my chances.”

The committee’s investigation points to the contrary. Blackwater personnel appear to have gone to exceptional lengths to obtain weapons from U.S. military weapons storehouses intended for use by the Afghan police. According to the committee, at the behest of the company’s Afghanistan country manager, Ricky Chambers, Blackwater on at least two occasions acquired hundreds of rifles and pistols from a U.S. military facility near Kabul called 22 Bunkers by the military and Pol-e Charki by the Afghans. Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of all U.S. military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, wrote to the committee to explain that “there is no current or past written policy, order, directive, or instruction that allows U.S. Military contractors or subcontractors in Afghanistan to use weapons stored at 22 Bunkers.”

Blackwater personnel invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when approached by the committee to explain the weapons acquisitions from 22 Bunkers, according to committee staff. Sailer, who is still deployed to Afghanistan, told the committee that he thought Blackwater was signing for the weapons to train Afghan police, a task it has never conducted.

Additionally, Blackwater personnel in Afghanistan, including those involved in both the May shooting and an earlier improper weapons discharge from December 2008, have been cited for, among other infractions, drug and alcohol abuse and, in one case, an “extensive criminal history.”
Conservatives like to point to systemic corruption when discussing progressives, but it is their unwavering support of the military industrial complex that has bred this culture of corruption. Billions of dollars have been awarded to companies like Blackwater with little government oversight, and considering the previous administration's propensity to either look the other way or out nay-sayers, this abuse of the federal government was allowed to cultivate in these organizations.

A while back, there was a comparison of the disproportionate amount of money each company receives to the amount of air time devoted to stories about them, and incidentally, the conservative media had shown complicity with these criminal organizations and their waste of taxpayer money, yet there seems to be an overabundance of attacks against organizations deemed friendly to the Obama administration.  To me, this seems to be disingenuous to the American people, and while these news groups claim to be "fair and balanced," they do nothing but shill for their political parties.  We see Andrew Breitbart and his cronies constantly attacking ACORN, and with revelations that conservative activist James O'Keefe lied to even his boss, or so Breitbart claims, the refocus of their attacks are now that the community organization may not have done anything criminal in the videos, but they are knowledgable of cheating the stystem, and they must have stuck it to taxpayers in the past.  Where are those same accusations from Breitbart & Co. for these military contractors?

I think I will wait to hold my breath for this one.  Lets just hope that the Senate Armed Services Committee doesn't cave in to the industry and I hope we don't reward any future to the renamed Blackwater.  A pig by any other name is still a pig.

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