Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gadfly Author Admits an Obama Administration Would Need Blackwater

Even a standard-bearer of the kook fringe admits that an Obama Administration would need Blackwater Worldwide and its services.

The admission from writer Jeremy Scahill comes as somewhat of a surprise. Scahill made a name for himself, as well as a tidy bit of cash, in his partially-true book on Blackwater, and his fans seemed to think of him as a latter-day David against the security provider. But as the most prolific of an embarrassingly tiny and ineffective group of anti-Blackwater protesters in San Diego recently, Scahill seems to have seen reality.

"Here is the cold, hard fact," he writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Blackwater knows its future is bright no matter who next takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

It gets better. Scahill notes Blackwater President Gary Jackson's recent observation that despite all the controversy, the company has had its two best consecutive quarters in a row. The US has renewed its big diplomatic security contract with Blackwater in Iraq, despite the Iraqi government's objections after the Nisoor Square shootout last fall.

"Blackwater is also winning at home," writes Scahill. "The company recently fought back widespread local opposition to its plans for a new warfare training center in San Diego."
But wait - there's more: "Obama may want to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq, for instance, but 'diplomatic security' is where Blackwater's bread is lathered with golden butter. Obama has pledged to increase diplomatic activity in Iraq and to keep in place the Green Zone and the monstrous U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Despite his criticism, Obama may have no choice but to use these private forces. His top advisors have painfully acknowledged Obama 'cannot rule [it] out.'

"Consider the numbers: At present, Blackwater has about two-thirds as many operatives in Baghdad as the US State Department has diplomatic security agents in the entire world, including Iraq. Although Obama has said he wants diplomatic security to be done by U.S. government employees, accountable under US law, the State Department estimates that it could take years to recruit, vet and train a force to take over Blackwater's work.

"In addition, Obama's rhetoric on Latin America strikes familiar 'drug war' chords, which bodes well for Blackwater, and he plans to send 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the company is already firmly entrenched. . . .

"There is no question that a McCain White House would be preferred by Blackwater and its allies. The question is: Would a Democratic victory really be bad for business?"

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