The Watering Hole: Hump Day: Wednesday, August 15, 2012: Breaking Gnus: Romney’s VP Choice

“Tweeter tweets.”

Once again, Tweeter, The Zoo’s premier investivative journalist, is first on the scene and first with the news of Presumptive Presidential Candidate of the Republican Party, Mitt “Corporations are People” Romney’s Vice Presidential Pick.

Sources closest to the candidate revealed Halliburton was going to get the nod. It was a tough call, as the choice of potential running mates eventually narrowed down to just three: Academi, formerly Xe, formerly Blackwater; Bain Capital; and Halliburton.

Academi, a favorite with the gun crowd and evangelical christians, was felt to be a little too militaristic. Romney’s fears they might pull of a coup finally scratched the paramilitary force. It was also thought that with its frequent name-changes, it has lost its once-famous brand recognition. “People know and love Blackwater. But the meme at least since the days of Reagan have been to distrust Academia.” one source commented. In the end, it was decided to keep Academi on the side, perhaps reserving a cabinet post for the Corporation.

Bain Capital was Romney’s favorite going into the selection process. But backgrond checks revealed Corporate plans to leverage a buyout of the Executive Branch. Negotiations ensued regarding Romney’s golden parachute from the buyout, and whether he could enjoy his term to completion, then retroactively give up the Presidency to Bain Capital. Negotiations broke down, however, when Romney insisted he be given Rhode Island as part of his severance.

That left Halliburton. It is well-connected, has loads of foreign policy experience, and has an added plus of the backing of former VP Dick Cheney. The fact that it is now headquartered on foreign soil didn’t seem to bother the Presumptive Presidential Pick. “Lot’s of Americans live overseas. I don’t see why we should treat Halliburton any different than any other red-blooded American Patriot.” Romney was reported to say.

Unfortunately, just minutes before Romney was to make his historic announcement, Halliburton called and declined. “I took a long, hard look at the balance sheet, and untimately concluded that it wouldn’t be profitable, on a cost-benefit analysis, to be tied up for 4-8 years as VP.” Halliburton reportedly told Romney in a call to his cell phone just before he stepped on the stage to announce his pick. “I’m hoping to be named Secretary of Commerce.” Halliburton told reporters later.

Shaken by this last-minute turn of events, Romney approached the podium where he promptly introduced Paul Ryan as the next President of the United States. And, with that slip of the tongue, Paul Ryan became Mitt Romney’s VP Pick.


The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.


If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?



Republicans, Government & Privatization

Republicans, in the course of the health care debate, repeatedly decry the ineptitude of our Federal Government.

I would like to see them sponsor a bill to privatize our Nuclear Weapons arsenal. I mean, if our government is as inept as Republicans claim it to be, wouldn’t the whole world be safer if a mercenary army like Xe (Blackwater) were in control of our nukes?


After Sucking America Dry

Erik Prince, the CEO of the formerly named Blackwater (renamed Xe – pronounced “Z” – to help improve its image) has resigned.  CNN reports that no successor has been named.

Gary Jackson, Blackwater/Xe’s president,  is also retiring.

Of course they can resign.  The newly minted multi-millionaires got their money the old-fashioned way;  in no bid, overpriced contracts consisting of your and my tax dollars.

Prince did not elaborate on what he planned to do next, saying only that “I will be taking on new challenges that I have not yet had the chance to tackle.”

Swell, I can’t wait to see what he is planning next to screw up for this country further. In case you don’t remember:

That followed a refusal by the Iraqi government to renew the firm’s operating license because of a 2007 incident in which the Iraqi government says security guards — then employed by Blackwater — fired upon and killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

Officials said the State Department is talking with security firms DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, which share the Iraq contract with Blackwater, about picking up the duties handled by Blackwater.

Good lord, NO. Can’t these mercenaries just go away once and for all?

add to : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Avast Ye Privateers


When President George W. Bush wanted to get around the Constitution in order to raise and support his own private army to provide protection for Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul Bremer, Blackwater was there. When the president also wanted his own private army to operate on American soil, one of many disastrous moves by his administration during Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater was there. When seventeen Iraqi civilians were gunned down by foreigners in Nisoor Square, Blackwater was there. And now that pirates are ramping up their operations off the coast of Somalia, it looks like Blackwater will be there, too.

According to Blackwater Worldwide CEO and Founder, Erik Prince,
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In case you missed them…

Truthout rocks! I love reading articles there. I learn so much.. Articles that you can’t miss:

Most Corporations Don’t Pay Income Taxes

Most corporations, including the vast majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.

Massive Private Contractors’ Role in Iraq Documented by New Congressional Report

Today private military contractors supporting the U.S. occupation in Iraq far outnumber U.S. troops inside the country. All together, these non-uniformed workers have cost nearly $100 billion, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the total U.S. budget for the five-year war.

These contractors [mercenaries] are paid for with our US tax dollars [though apparently not paid by corporations], and yet there is no accountability and no oversight. They answer to no laws – in Iraq, OR the US.

Obama’s Mercenary Position

by Jeremy Scahill
via: CommonDreams

A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not “rule out” using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. The adviser also said that Obama does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new President will be sworn in. Obama’s campaign says that instead he will focus on bringing accountability to these forces while increasing funding for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the agency that employs Blackwater and other private security contractors. (Hillary Clinton’s staff did not respond to repeated requests for an interview or a statement on this issue.)

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Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction

by Jeremy Scahill
via: AlterNet

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

The symbolism was stark: Re-enact a Blackwater massacre, go to jail. Commit a massacre, walk around freely and perhaps never go to jail. All seven were charged with criminal trespassing, six of them with an additional charge of resisting arrest and one with another charge of injury to real property. “We feel like Blackwater is trespassing in Iraq,” Baggarly later said. “And as for injuring property, they injure men, women and children every day.” The activists were jailed for five days and eventually released pending trial.

Read entire article… (3 pages)

2005 Use of Gas by Blackwater Leaves Questions

Photo by Capt. Kincy Clark

by James Risen
The New York Times
via: Truthout

Washington – The helicopter was hovering over a Baghdad checkpoint into the Green Zone, one typically crowded with cars, Iraqi civilians and United States military personnel.

Suddenly, on that May day in 2005, the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders. An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.

“This was decidedly uncool and very, very dangerous,” Capt. Kincy Clark of the Army, the senior officer at the scene, wrote later that day. “It’s not a good thing to cause soldiers who are standing guard against car bombs, snipers and suicide bombers to cover their faces, choke, cough and otherwise degrade our awareness.”

Both the helicopter and the vehicle involved in the incident at the Assassins’ Gate checkpoint were not from the United States military, but were part of a convoy operated by Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor that is under scrutiny for its role in a series of violent episodes in Iraq, including a September shooting in downtown Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.

None of the American soldiers exposed to the chemical, which is similar to tear gas, required medical attention, and it is not clear if any Iraqis did. Still, the previously undisclosed incident has raised significant new questions about the role of private security contractors in Iraq, and whether they operate under the same rules of engagement and international treaty obligations that the American military observes.

This happened in 2005. Why is this story just now coming out?
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Failure and incompetence MUST be rewarded..

(Title written with a high degree of sarcasm..)

After Blackwater Controversy, State Dep’t Gave Bonuses to Contracting Officials By Spencer Ackerman
via: TPM Muckraker

According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State’s relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

Read entire article..

Normally when something like what has been happening with Blackwater in Iraq happens, someone is held accountable and loses their job.
Well, at least the WH and the State Department are consistent. Someone screws up, things go horribly wrong, well, someone gets a promotion!

Black is white, up is down… War is peace..

Perhaps these people are being rewarded because things AREN’T going wrong; perhaps things are going exactly according to plan…

All in the family..

via: Raw Story and ABC News

Brother of State Dept. Official Linked to Blackwater

State Dept. IG Recuses Himself From Blackwater Case After Family Link Revealed

In a dramatic turn of events on Capitol Hill today, the State Department inspector general recused himself from all Blackwater-related issues after admitting to Congress that his brother served on the private security contractor’s advisory board.

After initially rejecting allegations that his brother, Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, was a Blackwater board member, Howard Krongard later told lawmakers that his brother was in fact on the board.

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Good Morning from Europe – 440 Days to Go

Ecomusée – Alsace – France

Is the turmoil in the financial markets a full-blown crisis already? Not everyone thinks so. “The Guardian” is convinced the real crisis is still ahead at least for British banks and, truly, nobody knows what’s still lurking in the “subprime basement”.

Pakistan is facing new protests, as the imposing of what is in fact martial law, produces further unrest. Benazir Bhutto has threatened to call for mass protests, but has not, as of now, done so, while Pakistani Police cracks down violently on protesters. The “Telegraph” sheds a light on the wisdom of Musharraf’s actions.

The Kurdish PKK is now an Enemy of the United States. For now an invasion into Iraq by Turkey has been averted. Intelligence gathered by US military will be forwarded to Turkish authorities to help them fight the PKK. 

While French President Sarkozy is looking forward to meeting with President Bush, “Le Petit Nicolas” will first have to confront the wrath of his own people. If the pictures here, are mindful of the Pakistani unrest, martial law and other serious incidents, it helps to know that the protests are about petrol prices!

The Swiss Blackwater Mercenary: In Switzerland a former Blackwater-in-Iraq employee is prosecuted for working as a mercenary, while still considered a member of Swiss active duty military personnel.

Truffles prices are up after an uncommonly hot summer in Italy, which leads to fairly uncommon criminal activity.

So, with only 440 more days of Bush Presidency to go through, have a nice day Everyone!

Spies for hire?

Blackwater is getting into the spying business next. So does that mean we are now going to be developing a private CIA as well as a private army? Does that now mean there will be NO oversight on top secret intelligence and sensitive matters? No need for security clearance? How will we even know?

Total Intel, as the company is known, is bringing “the skills traditionally honed by CIA operatives directly to the board room,” Black said. Black had a 28-year career with the CIA.
“They have the skills and background to do anything anyone wants,” said RJ Hillhouse, who writes a national security blog called The Spy Who Billed Me. “There’s no oversight. They’re an independent company offering freelance espionage services. They’re rent-a-spies.”

It was bad enough when Blackwater was in the ‘private security’ business. They had no oversight or accountability, but they were at least visible. Now they are headed into the spying business, again with no oversight or accountability – and this time they are INVISIBLE… I can’t believe this. This will be rogue spooks run amok. Will they be contracted by our government? To do what? How will we even know?

State Department Granted Immunity to Blackwater Guards After Shootings

From Think Progress:

This is absolutely stunning:

Following the deadly September shootout in Baghdad involving Blackwater USA, the Bush administration rushed to the security firm’s defense and even awarded the firm a new $92 million contract.Today, the AP provides further evidence of the administration’s efforts to shield the firm, reporting that the State Department “promised” legal immunity to Blackwater guards after the shooting incident:

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians. […]

Earlier this month, the FBI took over the case after DoJ prosecutors realized they “could not bring charges against Blackwater guards based on their statements to the Diplomatic Security investigators”:

Officials said the Blackwater bodyguards spoke only after receiving so-called “Garrity” protections, requiring that their statements only be used internally – and not for criminal prosecutions.

While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress last week she “regrets” the lack of oversight of Blackwater, she neglected to mention that she granted the Blackwater guards prosecutorial immunity after the shootings.

I’m at a loss for words.

UN to probe U.S.-contracted mercenaries for War Crimes?

via: Reuters

The United Nations wants probes to determine whether private security contractors in Iraq have committed war crimes and for governments to ensure that the rule of law is applied, U.N. officials said on Thursday.

The killing of 17 Iraqis in a shooting involving U.S. security firm Blackwater last month has created tensions between Baghdad and Washington and sparked calls for tighter controls on private contractors, who are immune from prosecution in Iraq.

Ivana Vuco, the U.N.’s senior human rights officer in Iraq, told a news conference that private security contractors were still subject to international humanitarian law.

“Investigations as to whether or not crimes against humanity, war crimes, are being committed and obviously the consequences of that is something that we will be paying attention to and advocating for,” she told a news conference.

Continue to read…

It would be a good start..

This just in..

via: APNews

Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm’s guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.

The demands – part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press – also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

Read the rest..

Wow, I wonder how this will go over in Washington..? Well, as far as Blackwater goes, $136 million should be a drop in the bucket given the money they have made hand over fist in Iraq…

As far as accountability of the involved Blackwater security agents in Iraqi courts?.. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Small army for hire?

For the right price, you TOO can have your own private army! Blackwater, this fast growing private military company, is expanding their facilities:

Blackwater executives say they plan to soon open a branch facility in southern California and a jungle survival skills training center on the site of the former Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines.

Both projects will be smaller versions of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre compound in Camden and Currituck counties, where thousands of military and law enforcement personnel come each year for training. The company says it is the largest tactical training facility in the United States, if not the world.

The people of Southern California are none too happy to have a massive Blackwater training facility there. And who can blame them…
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State Department Plans Tighter Control of Blackwater

Rather than taking control of the situation by booting Blackwater out of Iraq, and canceling their contract, the State Department has decided instead to place security cameras in Blackwater vehicles, monitor radio transmissions, and send State Department baby-sitters to Iraq to keep an eye on things.

New York Times

Published: October 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — The State Department, seeking to retain its relationship with Blackwater USA while trying to bring the company’s armed guards under tighter control, said Friday that it would now send its own personnel as monitors on all Blackwater security convoys in and around Baghdad.

Read the rest of the story here.

Breaking up is such a messy business, so why not just be friends?  Now that Blackwater has been out of control for the last four years, it’s about time they sent some State Department flunkies to Iraq — to watch Blackwater from their hotel in the Green Zone.

“Prevent Allende from coming to power or unseat him”

The detention of the dictator of Chile’s sons and wife under charges of embezzlement:

SANTIAGO, Chile, Oct. 4 — A Chilean judge on Thursday ordered the arrests of the widow and five children of General Augusto Pinochet and 17 of his closest military and civilian collaborators on charges of misappropriating public funds.

Note one thing:

The money is located in around a hundred (I’m not exaggerating here) of bank accounts at USA’s Riggs Bank (in Spanish):

Because daddy was such a liberty lover…

Who was “appointed” by Nixon and Kissinger…

A transcript of the president’s comments on March 23, 1972, made after the leak of corporate papers revealing collaboration between ITT and the CIA to rollback the election of socialist leader Salvador Allende, was recently published in the National Security Archive book, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability by Peter Kornbluh; the tape marks the first time Nixon can be heard discussing his orders to undermine Chilean democracy.

These are the results of “Spreading freedom” 30 years after.

‘Redacted’ at the Sitges Film Festival

Sitges is a small beach town, some miles from Barcelona:

But it has some other lures for the internationally curious. It has a thriving gay community, and the subject of this post, its Film Festival, mostly of fantasy and terror themes, but other genres aren’t dismissed. It has seen premieres of Blade Runner, Robocop and many, many other titles later considered classics. This year, the schedule
includes a film of Brian de Palma, ‘Redacted’, based in the rape of the 14 years girl, and the subsequent killing of her and her family. Made with real footing of amateur filmations done by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. De Palma tries to give another point of view of what is going really “out there”, aside from the Main Media ‘Usual Suspects’.

Here, you have the original article, in what this post is based, in Spanish, but with footing of Bill O’Reilly, calling villain to De Palma.

Now what?

The White House has dismissed repeatedly the investigations of the Iraqi police about the last Blackwater shootings in Baghdad. But today, the Washington Post has posted this:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military reports from the scene of a shooting incident in Baghdad involving security contractor Blackwater indicates its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

So, now what, I ask?

Positive Spin for Blackwater

This week congress started investigations into Blackwater’s role in Iraq and last month’s unprovoked shooting of Iraqi civilians. Finally the average American started to become aware of this group and how it functions.

Yesterday Blackwater was dispatched by the American Embassy to rescue the Polish Ambassador who was under attack. And today we are hearing how indispensible Blackwater is to the mission in Iraq. The claim is that there was nobody else the embassy could send by helicopter to rescue him.

It would seem that in previous wars regular military would have handled this type of rescue. And since the American taxpayer pays either way why doesn’t the military handle these issues?

This has given the media a chance to spin all of Blackwater’s positives.
Watch this clip from yesterday’s CBS Evening News.

Undoubtedly this is the beginning of glorifying Blackwater.

Via: Raw Story

Order 17

Red, white and mercenary in Iraq
by Sidney Blumenthal
via: Salon

On June 27, 2004, the day before the United States was to grant sovereignty to a new Iraqi government and disband the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. proconsul, issued a stunning new order. One of the final acts of the CPA, Order 17 declared that foreign contractors within Iraq, including private military firms, would not be subject to any Iraqi laws — “all International Consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process,” it read. “Congratulations to the new Iraq!” Bremer said moments before flying out. His memoir, “My Year in Iraq,” neglects to mention Order 17.

Read the rest of the article.