“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blackwater is Defiant: "We will not let our people be taken by the Iraqis."

Erik Prince, unshaven, maybe unforgiven.

Mr. Erik Prince, Blackwater Chairman, said, "the hostility toward Blackwater was partly driven by partisan politics from the Democrat-led Congress and the news media." He is right there, but it is hard to see how this ends well. Talk about timing.

Blackwater won't allow arrests
By Sharon Behn Washington Times
October 17, 2007

A defiant Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said yesterday he will not allow Iraqi authorities to arrest his contractors and try them in Iraq's faulty justice system.

"We will not let our people be taken by the Iraqis," Mr. Prince told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. At least 17 of 20 Blackwater guards being investigated for their roles in a Sept. 16 shooting incident are still in a secure compound in Baghdad's Green Zone and carrying out limited duties.

Two or three others have been allowed by the State Department to leave the country as part of their scheduled rotation out of Iraq and are expected to return.

"In an ideal sense, if there was wrongdoing, there could be a trial brought in the Iraqi court system. But that would imply that there is a valid Iraqi court system where Westerners could get a fair trial. That is not the case right now," said Mr. Prince.

Mr. Prince also expressed his disappointment that the State Department has not come to the company's defense, even though it has never lost a State Department client in years of protecting them.

"For the last week and a half, we have heard nothing from the State Department," said Mr. Prince. "From their senior levels, their PR folks, we've heard nothing — radio silence.

"It is disappointing for us. We have performed to the line, letter and verse of their 1,000-page contract," he said. "Our guys take significant risk for them. They've taken a pounding these last three years."

A number of Blackwater contractors, most of whom come from military and law-enforcement backgrounds, have been killed in action or grievously wounded in Iraq while running more than 16,500 security missions in the past three year.

Iraq's government, outraged by the Sept. 16 incident in which up to 17 Iraqis were killed as Blackwater staff tried to clear a crowded traffic circle, has accused the U.S. firm of unprovoked and random killings. Blackwater says its men were defending themselves after coming under fire.

The State Department has since ordered that cameras be placed in Blackwater security vehicles and that Diplomatic Security agents accompany Blackwater staff on missions. Mr. Prince said his company had recommended both those steps in 2005 and that the proposals were "buried" by the department.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded yesterday that Blackwater leave Iraq and pay $8 million to the family of each of the 17 victims. Iraqi Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim said the American guards responsible should stand trial in Iraq, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Mr. Prince, a 38-year-old former Navy SEAL, said if there was any evidence of wrongdoing, his employees could be tried in the United States by a jury of their peers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

He said the hostility toward Blackwater was partly driven by partisan politics from the Democrat-led Congress and the news media.

"The far left was unsuccessful in attacking [Army Gen. David H.] Petraeus and defunding the war, forcing a pullback of the U.S. troops," he said. "I think part of the strategy might be to undermine some other part of the support infrastructure, and that would be contractors that are an important part of the supporting package there in Iraq."

He said the scrutiny by Congress, which Democrats say is aimed at better oversight, may have backfired.

"What has happened in the last six to nine months is we've seen the U.S. government, [Department of Defense] in particular, awarding a lot more work to non-U.S. companies ... because it is harder to drag those guys before Congress," Mr. Prince said.

"And there is less oversight, there is less accountability, there is less visibility into those operations."

Mr. Prince has been caught in a partisan crossfire since shortly after last year's election, when a trial lawyer targeting Blackwater lobbied then-House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, for hearings on the "extremely Republican" company.

Mr. Prince emphasized that his guards are proven professionals, recruited on the basis of their prior military, special operations and law-enforcement experiences.

"They go through extensive vetting, training, 160 plus hours of security training, psychological evaluations, security clearances, background checks" and cultural training, he said.

Iraqis and other expatriate security companies on the ground in Iraq have complained that Blackwater guards have been overly and unnecessarily aggressive in their attitudes.


  1. Just another gnag on the streets of Baghdad, hired out primarily to the State Dept, for ease of verbal communication.

    Working under an agreement that the US will not stand up for, when needed.

    "Radio Silence"

    Professor Lewis hitting that infamous nail, on the head, again.

    Good thing that aQ has been defeated and local control is establishing itself to US expectations. The combat troops are coming home!!

    Can't wait for the Parades ...

    Where are we gonna find ticker tape?

  2. Syrian Says Turkey Has Right to Cross-Border Offensive in Iraq As Lawmakers Debate

    ANKARA, Turkey (Associated Press) -- Syria's president said Wednesday that Turkey had a right to stage a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq to chase separatist Kurdish rebels as the Turkish parliament began debating the issue.
    Visiting Syrian President Bashar Assad said Turkey had a legitimate right to stage a cross-border offensive.

    "We understand that such an operation would be aimed toward a certain group which attacks Turkish soldiers. We support decisions that Turkey has on its agenda, we are backing them," Assad told reporters. "We accept this as Turkey's legitimate right. As Syria, we are supporting all decisions by Turkey and we are standing behind them."

    Iraq on Tuesday also dispatched one of its two vice presidents to Ankara who also called for diplomacy.

    "Iraq must be given the chance to stop PKK rebels who cross the border before Turkey takes any step," Anatolia quoted Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as saying before he left Ankara.

    "I got what I wanted from our talks. There is a new atmosphere to stop the current crisis," he was also quoted as saying. Al-Hashimi met Tuesday with Erdogan and other Turkish officials.
    The motion, authorizing an attack into Iraq sometime in the next year, has the backing of all but one party in parliament. Only a small Kurdish party has said it would vote against it.

    "Now, instead of cross-border offensives, it is time to focus on least-tried methods of democratic debate and civilian solution," said Selahattin Demirtas, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party.

    "We will vote 'no' to the motion, and hope there will never be a need to use it," Demirtas said, adding that the occupation of Iraq by U.S.-led forces and the opposition of Iraqi Kurds to a possible Turkish move threatened to "drag Turkey to into a political quagmire."

    "Even if there is a militarily successful operation, how can we prevent the emergence of a deepened problem later on?" Demirtas asked.

    Erdogan said Tuesday: "The passage of the motion in parliament does not mean that an operation will be carried out at once. Turkey will act with common sense and determination when necessary and when the time is ripe."

  3. A defiant Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said yesterday he will not allow Iraqi authorities to arrest his contractors and try them in Iraq's faulty justice system.

    Remind me again what the mission is...Iraqi sovereignty?

  4. Meanwhile closer to home--Oct 17, 11:24 AM EDT

    Report Says Mexico Violence Could Hit US

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Drug-related violence in Mexico could spill into the United States, where the border area is vulnerable because law enforcement is poorly coordinated, undersupplied and sometimes corrupt, a consultant's report says.

    The report, submitted to Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Border Security Council, says Mexico's drug violence is getting worse, with more than 2,100 people killed in drug-related violence since Jan. 1, making 2007 the deadliest year yet.

    An advance copy of the 17-page report to be released Wednesday was obtained early by the Houston Chronicle. The report's chief author is former State Department counterterrorism agent Fred Burton, now an Austin-based consultant and a member of the governor's council.

    The Associated Press reported in August that at least seven killings in Laredo in the last two years were linked to Mexican drug cartels. Rosalio "Bart" Reta, a 17-year-old U.S. citizen and alleged soldier for the cartel, pleaded guilty this summer to a Laredo killing and still faces charges on others.

    The report comes as U.S. and Mexican officials are working to wrap up an anti-narcotics aid package worth at least $1 billion.

    U.S. officials say the aid package is essential for both countries, and praise Mexican President Felipe Calderon's resolve to take on drug traffickers in the first 11 months of his six-year term. Calderon has deployed as many as 20,000 troops and federal police to battle the country's powerful drug cartels, which are fighting among themselves for dominance.

    The Mexican government says gangland killings steadily declined through the spring and summer after peaking at 319 in March. Some 195 gangland-style killings were reported in August.

    However, Burton's report says the security situation in Mexico is deteriorating despite Calderon's efforts.

    On the U.S. side of the border, the report says, "the underreporting of crimes ... and corruption among low- and midlevel U.S. law enforcement officials facilitate the northward spread of cartel activity."

    Conrado Cantu, the former Cameron County sheriff whose territory included the border city of Brownsville, is serving 24 years in federal prison for drug trafficking, extortion and corruption.

    Nevertheless, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Steve Robertson said the United States and its Latin American partners have had major successes in the past year.

    If Blackwater comes home, we could always use them on the border.

  5. Dems keeping the Blackwater brouhaha alive. Wouldn't surprise me.

    “If the Turks cut off our ability to use Incirlik [Air Base], there’s no question that this could jeopardize our troops on the ground in Iraq. And frankly, if this is just the latest in the Democrats’ string of back-door attempts to force a retreat from the war against al Qaeda, it’s certainly the most dangerous.”—House Minority Leader John Boehner

    It would serve Dem purposes to cripple Blackwater and the diplomatic mission in Iraq.

  6. Where's that damn wall?

  7. bobal said:
    "If Blackwater comes home, we could always use them on the border."

    Frankly, I'm about ready to bring them all home. The wife said we should bring them all home and issue a warning that if anyone attacks Israel, we'll vaporise them.

    Sounds good to me.

  8. Back on the Presidential campaign trail: I thought this was good.

    “On illegal immigration, [Mike] Huckabee makes George Bush sound like Tom Tancredo. He has compared illegal aliens to slaves brought here in chains from Africa, saying, ‘I think frankly the Lord is giving us a second chance to do better than we did before.’ Toward that end, when an Arkansas legislator introduced a bill that would prevent illegal aliens from voting and receiving state benefits, Huckabee denounced the bill, saying it would rile up ‘those who are racist and bigots.’ He also made the insane point that companies like Toyota would not invest in Arkansas if the state didn’t allow non-citizens to vote because it would ‘send the message that, essentially, ‘If you don’t look like us, talk like us and speak like us, we don’t want you.’ Like all the (other) Democratic candidates for president, he supports a federal law to ban smoking—unless you’re an illegal alien smoking at a Toyota plant. (I just realized why Mike Huckabee can’t run for president as a Democrat—they’ve already got Mike Gravel.) Huckabee also joined with impeached president Bill Clinton in a campaign against childhood obesity. What, O.J. wasn’t available?”—Ann Coulter

  9. 'where's that damn wall?'--whit

    Everybody is asking Where's The Fence?

  10. Fence?
    We don't need no stinkin' fence!

    Just a few vehicle blockers, at the strategic choke points.

    Let the people flow!

  11. further to our discussion on free trade and globalization:

    Is globalization killing the American middle class?


    Wednesday, October 17, 2007 – Page A21

    Alan Greenspan and Naomi Klein see things the same way.

    The front half of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board's bestselling memoirs has been receiving plenty of attention, especially the parts in which he trashes George W. Bush's spendthrift ways. But the back half of The Age of Turbulence is more compelling. In its dry but lucid pages, he sounds the same alarm that social activists have been raising for years.

    Mr. Greenspan embraces the argument that moving manufacturing offshore to low-wage countries has depressed wages at home. The result is a worsening gap in incomes between the wealthy and the working class and increasing danger of social tensions and economic decline.

    Ultimately, he believes, globalized trade is good for the planet, because living standards are steadily rising in the developing world, and equilibrium will be reached in a few decades. (This writer recalls a conference where one respectable speaker maintained that the Bush administration was spending so much on HIV-AIDS in Africa because the business class knew that, in 50 years, it would be the only place left with cheap labour.)

    But it also means that, in the U.S. and Canada, semi-skilled workers are struggling, while the highly skilled elites on whom the entire economy now rests are making a killing.

    This far, Mr. Greenspan and Ms. Klein, author of the recently released The Shock Doctrine (it blames capitalism for most of the ills of the world) walk together. But no farther.

    The solution to the wage gap, Mr. Greenspan asserts, is not to increase taxes on the rich and raise tariffs, as Ms. Klein and her allies favour, because that would damage the economy and lead to greater long-term misery. Instead, the U.S. needs to increase the pool of skilled workers, which would reduce demand for their services and depress their wages, even as the wages of those entering the pool increased.

    But that's not happening, Mr. Greenspan believes, because America's public schools are failing to properly teach math and science. No math, no skills. Simple as that.

    Why are they failing? Because teachers' unions depress math teachers' salaries. Forty per cent of math teachers in American high schools did not major or minor in math while at university. That makes most of them unfit to teach math. But schools can't recruit qualified math teachers, because the unions insist that teachers be paid according to seniority rather than skill.

    "Since the financial opportunities for experts in math or science outside teaching are vast, and for English literature teachers outside of teaching limited, math teachers are likely to be a cut below the average teaching professional at the same pay grade," Mr. Greenspan writes. "Teaching math is likely to be left to those who are unable to claim the more lucrative jobs. This is far less true of English literature or history teachers."

    The solution is obvious: Allow market forces to dictate the wages of teachers. Math and science teachers will make six figures; English and history teachers will have to take weekend jobs to make ends meet. Students will get a better education, the labour pool's quality will rise, the wage gap will shrink and the expanded base of knowledge workers will stimulate growth.

    But politics being politics, and unions being unions, this is unlikely to happen overnight. As a quicker fix, Mr. Greenspan advocates dropping the tariff on labour.

    If the market demands shoes but government bans shoe imports, shoe manufacturers get rich, but everyone has to pay more for shoes. If Microsoft needs software engineers but the federal government limits immigration, then software engineers earn fabulous salaries, but we all pay more for software, less software gets developed, and productivity and the economy suffer.

    That's why immigration policies should be wide open to skilled labour. Canada's record on this is better than most, but the Americans, because of disputes over illegal Latino immigration, can't agree on immigration reform. Unless the next president is able to craft consensus, the American economy will pay the price.

    Mr. Greenspan's analysis reminds us that the left-right dichotomy is often futile. Smart thinking seeks to analyze problems devoid of ideological blinkers, borrowing from all parts of the political spectrum to build an analysis grounded in reality rather than dialectic.

    Naomi Klein needs to read Alan Greenspan more than Alan Greenspan needs to read Naomi Klein."

  12. If anyone wants to keep themselves informed about nuclear energy prospects in Idaho, you can sign up for updates Here

  13. Parent Company of Idaho Energy Complex. (from an earlier tip by Rufus)

  14. Here it is. Found at last...the virtual fence.

  15. Fred Thompson doesn't do so well with the women voters in this Iowa Rasmussan Poll I thought Fred was the guy the girls couldn't say no to.

  16. Fred will not paint the country red.

  17. Is Canada a racist society, or a fool's paradise? Trouble To The North

  18. The ladies like Mitt, at least my lady does. "Is he going to have an appearance around here?" she asks.


  19. Fred Thompson doesn't do so well with the women voters in this Iowa Rasmussan Poll I thought Fred was the guy the girls couldn't say no to.

    Girls, no. Women yes.