- $4 billion in taxpayer funds have been paid for private security forces in Iraq-
4 bill is a lot of wetland and levee.
The ominous rise of Blackwater Security Forces over the past 6 years has become very disconcerting to me. I have yet to read Jeremy Scahill's book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, but I'm anxious to do so.
The above statistic came from this article in the The Nation which is a must read.
Most of us New Olreanians know that Blackwater was hired to protect certain private assets of wealthier folk in the days immediately following the storm. But I bet most of us don't know that they still have a presence here in the city. Why they're still here is a mystery to me, but I know they are as I shared a drink with one them at an uptown bar recently. I asked him what they were still doing here and he mumbled something which I couldn't understand, then laughed and finished with "Whatever the hell we want." I laughed too...but not because I thought it was funny.
I was in the city about 3 days after the levees broke, shooting as much footage as I could of the scene. The months following the storm now seem like an extended acid trip, but there are certain things which stuck out in my mind...one of them involves Blackwater.
About 2 weeks after the water was finally pumped out of the city, I was down by the Superdome where ABC 26 was conducting their nightly newscasts out of a parking lot. One of my friends was being interviewed about something or other and I tagged along. While I was there I struck up a conversation with an LAPD officer who was in the city assisting our own police force. There were a lot of officers from around the country who traveled down here and helped out...LAPD, Illinois State Police, NYPD, New York State Troopers, etc....they came from all around the country.
The officer told me of an incident he encountered while patrolling the Riverwalk with another LAPD officer and a New York State Trooper. He said they were walking through the mall area and came up on two Blackwater guys who drew their weapons on the officers and told them to halt. The officers drew their weapons in turn and told the Blackwater soldiers to stand down and lower their weapons. He said the Blackwater guys started laughing and said, "Do you know who we are?" The LAPD officer responded, "Yeah I know who you are, lower your Goddamn weapons right now." They didn't at first. He said the moment became very tense but the Blackwater goons eventually stood down.
The LAPD officer was incredibly pissed about it....which of course he should have been. Blackwater was basically hired as security...I think they were gaurding a Cruise ship or something if I remember his story correctly. They have absolutely no law enforcement or legal jurisdicition, even under martial law...at least not towards American citizens especially on American soil. Raising a firearm on officers of the law is absolutely out of bounds.
Meanwhile, I'd like to find out why they are still in the city.
This is from Rick-n-Gentilly:
yup. lost their contract right after the dems won the elections. allways thought that was weird timing.
all in all they were here a hell of a long time doing basicly rent a cop work once the city reopened.
they were making 300.00 bucks a day to hang out at the d.r.c. for 12 hours and look tough.
i'm sure jeffery saw it all at work. i just got to see them at play.
thanks for clearing that up. rick-n-gentilly.
So it looks like they're gone. Good enough.