As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blackwater Is Fatwa'd

I thought this would have received more attention:

Iraq's Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani lashed out at foreign security contractors on Friday accusing them of "belittling" Iraqis.

Sistani is demanding that the government pass legislation "that stops the shedding of Iraqi blood," his spokesman Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai said in the central shrine city of Karbala.

"The foreign security companies working in Iraq belittle innocent Iraqi citizens," a statement from Karbalai said.

If you lose Sistani, you've lost the Iraqi people, and there will be repercussions for years. The State Department has made overtures toward dropping Blackwater, but nothing permanent. Which could be why Blackwater is moving on to greener, and quieter, pastures.

Prince is prepping his company for even more lucrative contracts than the billion dollars Blackwater has received from the U.S. government since 9/11. As The Wall Street Journal reports today, Prince is looking to take on the biggest defense contractors in the country.

According to the Blackwater founder and CEO, private security -- guarding U.S. personnel in war-torn countries, as Blackwater does in Iraq -- shouldn't be what defines the company. "We see the security market diminishing," he told the paper. Instead, Blackwater wants to grow its training and logistics work, placing Blackwater in the center of what the WSJ terms "missions to which the [U.S. military] won't commit American forces." For example, Blackwater recently outbid Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon for a five-year, $15 billion contract to "fight terrorists with drug ties." Get ready to see a lot of Blackwater in Colombia.

Blackwater has 40 aircraft, a 183-foot ship, and an armored-car production facility (wouldn't it be nice if the military could get some of those armored vehicles?) to make American street-legal cars. They're a moving target, preparing for other eventualities once the Iraqi adventure runs its course. They'd much rather operate without fanfare or publicity, becoming the Defense Department's new black-ops team, for example, or getting hidden in the CIA's secret intelligence ledger. They may leave Iraq, but they're not leaving the accounting books of the US government.

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