Summary: In reports on recent news that Iraq's Interior Ministry has revoked the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm, several news outlets did not mention that Blackwater USA's vice chairman is also the head of Mitt Romney's counterterrorism policy advisory group.
In September 17 reports on the decision by Iraq's Interior Ministry to, in the words of CNN.com, "revoke the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm whose contractors are blamed for a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left eight civilians dead," CNN and CNN.com failed to note that Blackwater USA's vice chairman, J. Cofer Black, is reportedly the head of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's counterterrorism policy advisory group. During the 2 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom, CNN re-aired a June 2006 report during which senior international correspondent Nic Robertson interviewed Black, but when co-anchor T.J. Holmes introduced the report, he did not mention Romney's reported connection to Blackwater USA, and, during the report, Black was identified only as, "Vice chairman, Blackwater USA":
The CNN.com article, as well as reports by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Associated Press, and an additional segment during a later hour of CNN Newsroom, all failed to note the reported connection between Romney and Blackwater USA. On September 13, The Boston Globe reported that Romney "tapped" Black, "a former CIA official, who is now a top officer in a private security firm with widespread operations in Iraq, to head his counterterrorism policy advisory group."
By contrast, Time.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox noted Blackwater USA's reported connection to the Romney campaign in a post on the Swampland blog. Cox wrote: "Company run by Mitt Romney's national security adviser ejected from Iraq over an incident in which 'eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.' I suspect this is not the way Romney was planning on announcing his plan for withdrawal."
From the September 13 Boston Globe article:
Mitt Romney today tapped a former CIA official, who is now a top officer in a private security firm with widespread operations in Iraq, to head his counterterrorism policy advisory group.
Cofer Black, who also served as a top State Department counter-terrorism official, is now chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions and vice-chairman of Blackwater USA. That firm came to public attention in 2004, when four employees were ambushed, killed, and mutilated in Fallujah.
"The United States faces a new generation of global threats and challenges," Black said in a statement issued by the Romney campaign. "Governor Romney recognizes the threats before us and has already laid out the policies needed to give our men and women the tools they need to protect our country."
Others who will advise Romney on counterterrorism include businesspeople, a former military officer, former FBI officials, and former Foreign Service officials.
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the September 17 edition of CNN Newsroom:
HEIDI COLLINS (co-anchor): An interesting development in Iraq this morning: Iraq's Interior Ministry has revoked the license of Blackwater Security. The ministry is blaming Blackwater guards for a gun battle yesterday in Baghdad -- the battle leaving eight Iraqis dead, 14 others wounded. An Iraqi Ministry spokesman says the incident is being investigated and, quoting here now, "those responsible for Sunday's killing will be referred to Iraqi justice."
Blackwater guards provide protection for construction workers, diplomats, and government officials -- an estimated 25,000-plus private security workers are in Iraq. It's not known how many of them are employees of the North Carolina-based company. Also unclear, how this will affect reconstruction projects and workers Blackwater guards are assigned to protect.
From the 2 p.m. ET hour of the September 17 edition of CNN Newsroom:
HOLMES: Eight Iraqi civilians killed in a gun battle in Baghdad; a U.S. security firm blamed by the Iraqi government.
Iraq's Interior Ministry is banning Blackwater from operating anywhere in that country.
Blackwater provides security for American diplomats and others working in Iraq. Iraqi officials blame Blackwater contractors for the firefight yesterday in a Baghdad neighborhood.
The U.S. State Department says Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice will call Iraq's prime minister to express regret and assure him an investigation is under way.
Blackwater has, in fact, faced other troubled times in Iraq. More than three years ago, four Blackwater security personnel were ambushed, killed, and mutilated in Fallujah. Last year, CNN got unprecedented access to Blackwater and its security operations.
The tour of Blackwater's North Carolina headquarters given to our Nic Robertson by a vice president of Blackwater, Chris Taylor -- Taylor no longer works for the company.
Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush’s Undeclared SurgeOn Tuesday, five employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA were killed in a violent Baghdad neighborhood. Hours later, President Bush used his State of the Union address to call on what some are calling an undeclared surge of private mercenaries in Iraq. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, author of the forthcoming “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”
America's Corporate SS - Is Blackwater USA the Beginning of a Private Political Army?
....What we are seeing is the creation of a global governmental structure created strictly by, of and for corporate power. With large portions of the US military having become alienated by the blatantly corporate goals of the Iraq invasion and occupation global corporations cannot afford to be stymied by truly patriotic governmental military leaders. Values such as democracy, justice and accountability simply get in their way. If this sounds rather extreme or even impossible to you, let's not forget that this model has already been proven to work for some period of time - in Nazi Germany....
....its goal of co-opting the country’s military and law enforcement.....
....“Contracting out security to groups like Blackwater undermines our constitutional democracy,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Their actions may not be subject to constitutional limitations that apply to both federal and state officials and employees—including First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches and seizures. Unlike police officers they are not trained in protecting constitutional rights and unlike police officers or the military they have no system of accountability whether within their organization or outside it. These kind of paramilitary groups bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law. The use of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our rights."
....So Americans are living under laws their representatives never passed. Signing statements put the president above the law." He has also gutted the Posse Comitatus Act, which was created to prevent the president from maintaining a standing army for use against American citizens. Wolf writes that the 2007 Defence Authorization Bill lets the president "expand his power to declare martial law and take charge of the National Guard troops without the permission of the governor when 'public order' has been lost; he can send these troops out into our streets at his direction-overriding local law enforcement authorities-during a national disaster, epidemic, serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or 'other condition.'" On its own, this is an incredible expansion of presidential power, but when combined with the use of military contractors like Blackwater it gives the president almost dictatorial authority...
..."This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal."...
Blackwater Eyes Domestic Contracts in U.S.
..."From a capitalist point of view it is brilliant," said Walker. "You want to diversify your market to diversify your downside risk. But do you really want someone diversifying this service? This is hired gun service. And you are going to diversity this among the 51 jurisdictions in the U.S.? This makes me really nervous. This is not a good thing."...
Washington Dispatch: Why the controversial private security company wants to run congressional candidate Marshall Adame "out of Dodge."
January 28, 2008
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.