• God’s Will: Academi and Mercs at State

    June 14, 2012 // 9 Comments »

    I wrote recently about the return of Blackwater to the State Department, with the mercenary guns-for-hire company changing its name once again (now called Academi in a homage to bad spelling) and buying an existing contract to put it back into the State Department’s world.

    It gets creepier, as government seems to get these days.

    Slam Dunk on Inman

    Academi now boasts two celebrities on its Board of Directors, former attorney general John Ashcroft and retired admiral Bobby Inman. Ashcroft of course is Mr. Homeland Security, the guy who set in motion the smorgasbord of unconstitutional wiretapping, spying and detentions without trial that followed 9/11. He is also the guy who was so offended by the marble statues at the Department of Justice that he had them draped to hide classical nude details.

    From a State Department-Blackwater love fest perspective, Inman is a slam-dunk. Inside Foggy Bottom, Inman is permanently associated with the up-armoring of embassies abroad through the 1985 “Inman Report,” a call to arms that resulted in the moated, blast-proof, unapproachable fortress embassies America promotes its image through today. The Report was also the catalyst for the establishment of the part of the State Department which titularly oversees the deployment of mercenaries, everyone’s favorite Bureau of Diplomatic Security, DS. Inman’s word is gospel to DS, so his appearance on the Academi Board is no accident.

    Small World

    Keeping the circle of life theme going, Academi’s CEO Ted Wright used to be president of mega-contractor KBR, the firm Dick Cheney worked for and the firm that made billions running the backstage logistics portion of the Iraq and Afghan crusades. One of Academi’s VPs worked for Queen Noor of Jordan, and has ties to the Bush dynasty. It is indeed a small world.

    More creepiness?

    Academi, on its “pro shop” web site, sells God’s Will T-shirts, pictured above. Just the thing for the budding merc crusader to wear while gunning down Muslims for profit. Jeez, and people wonder why we’re not winning.

    A Devil’s Bargain

    In the days since 9/11, State has undergone a fundamental shift, one that has required the organization to make a Devils’ Bargain with mercenaries like Academi. Prior to 9/11, State’s policy was generally to evacuate embassies in countries at war, reinserting diplomats when things quieted down to the point that diplomacy was again possible. This strategy worked well for some 220 years of American history.

    After 9/11, State felt compelled to out-macho the military, to prove its manliness in the testosterone-fueled Bush (and now Obama) years. This meant opening and/or keeping open embassies in the midst of shooting wars, originally just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now spread alongside America’s increasingly one-tune foreign policy of belligerence to places like South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere in drone land. The US military, already stretched thin by endless war, has neither the forces nor the interest in guarding State’s pasty pseudo warriors, and so the Department of State is forced to turn to private armies, like Academi, mercenaries, to enable its macho posture abroad.

    I saw groups like Blackwater in action in Iraq, often alongside our own military. The mercs were what our military would be like without the NCO corps to enforce discipline, a frat house with guns, lots of guns. While State makes wordplay out of claiming to supervise its mercs, overpaid, ‘roided ‘dudes with guns named Smitty, J-Dub, Spider and the like take little notice when requested to follow the laws of war in protecting diplomats so far out of their environments. It is a situation that isn’t just likely to go wrong, it is one that practically demands to devolve into crisis.

    The solution is straightforward. State should understand and admit that it is neither equipped, trained nor needed for combat situations. State should take a step back from adventures that assure its role as negotiators, diplomats, public diplomacists and the like will be misunderstood at best, and refocus its resources away from spending billions on private armies. Until then, State is forced into bed with creepy organizations like Academi, and will suffer for it.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq

    Huzzah: Blackwater is Back at the State Department!

    June 12, 2012 // 5 Comments »

    Your mercenary update: There’s a new merc company out there, ACADEMI, but it actually is the same company formerly known as Xe which is the same company formerly known as Blackwater.

    Last month, apparently without attracting any public attention (until now), they quietly bought another security firm, International Development Solutions, and took over its piece of the State Department’s $10 billion World Protective Services contract, which then-Blackwater got kicked out of years ago.

    A good way to keep up with all things Blackwater, er, Xe, Academi, whatever is the web site AcademiWatch.

    Also, some awesome video of the Blackwater bullies in action in Iraq, winning hearts and minds for ‘Merica.

    Blackwater is back, baby!

    Blackwater and State have a, well, history. Records released after a four year FOIA fight between the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the web site Gawker show that mercenaries, primarily from Blackwater, shot and sometimes killed a lot of Iraqis in the name of protecting America’s diplomats while under contract with the State Department. The mercs, er, the private security companies, were supposed to be operating under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s command and control but instead shot up Iraq like outcasts from the Road Warrior.

    The 4500 FOIA’ed pages released are filled with contact/incident reports. Every time a Blackwater shooter cranked off a few rounds at some Iraqi, he was supposed to file a report. State’s Diplomatic Security would validate the shoot as having taken place under its own rules and that would be that. No attempts were made to seriously investigate anything, no attempts were made to find out what happened to any of the Iraqis popped by American hired guns and certainly no attempts to rein in Blackwater are documented.

    And now, Blackwater and State are back, together again, baby! Get some!

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq

    Blackwater Faces Another Suit for Cheating State Department

    July 15, 2011 // Comments Off on Blackwater Faces Another Suit for Cheating State Department

    It is beginning to become more and more clear why these wars are so darn expensive: the State Department keeps tossing away money on things they never receive.

    Employees of the security contractor previously known as Blackwater filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit in US District Court alleges that Blackwater (now known as “Mr. John Smith”) overbilled for protecting State Department employees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Blackwater billed the State Department for sniper services from one individual who sat behind a desk, probably without a rifle. In at least one other case, the company allegedly billed for services provided by a marksman who had failed a required drug test. A spokesman for Moyock, N.C.-based mercenary company declined comment, citing the pending legal action.

    In addition to the ongoing hilarity involving anything “contracty” that the State Department touches in Iraq and Afghanistan, the steady drumbeat of these kinds of lawsuits and investigations drives home the point that after ten years of wars of terror, State still has not figured out how to supervise the thuggish contractors they employ. It is equally clear that those contractors sure as hell have figured out the game, and feel free to shoot people, double bill or just outright steal money, knowing the consequences of getting caught are few.

    Kinda like working for the White House, consequence-free no matter what happens. Viva!

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq

    How to Get Free Government Money!

    June 16, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    These two stories are unrelated:

    June 6, 2011: DynCorp International, the largest contractor in Afghanistan, has refunded a portion of $40.8 million to the State Department for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    June 13, 2011: DynCorp International announced that it has been selected by the Department of State as one of five providers on the Criminal Justice Program Support contract.

    These two stories are also unrelated:

    August 20, 2010: Blackwater Worldwide reached an agreement with the State Department to pay $42 million for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations.

    October 1, 2010: Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion.

    This story is also unrelated to any of the above:

    (2008) “When I am president I will ask the Joint Chiefs for their help in reducing reliance on armed private military contractors with the goal of ultimately implementing a ban on such contractors,” (then Candidate Hillary Clinton) declared. Clinton slammed Obama on this issue: “Senator Obama and I have a substantive disagreement here. He won’t rule out continuing to use armed private military contractors in Iraq.”

    Clinton released a statement saying she would endorse the Stop Outsourcing Security Act to “ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq.” She declared, “The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.”

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq