Tuesday, October 02, 2007

C-SPAN 3 hearing on Blackwater

Wow, in these partisan times, I love the relations among the House Oversight Committee members. It's just wonderful the passive-agressive snipping between committee members. When one representative was simply asking the CEO of Blackwater, about the number of accidents involving Blackwater employees and Prince noted that the company had lost three helicopters in Iraq in the past year, professional civic idiot Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Moronia) interposed, outside of the Roberts' rules of orders-just straight interrupted and said.....I swear I heard this.......did this committee investigate the helicopter crash of (former Clinton Commerce Secretary) Ron Brown. Rep. Waxman and Rep. Davis, the chairs and minority standing members both said they weren't on the committee at that time. Really, Issa is such a douche. He, Dan Burton (R-Idiotiana-he's from Indiana but I have nothing particularly against Hoosiers), Tom Mica (R-FL) just want to give this guy's balls a little tickle. They all noted that Blackwater had not allowed any Congresspeople to be injured. Is this the indication of the fitness of Blackwater's work? Dan Burton also just attempted to offer Prince the floor (when he didn't have the floor) to answer a claim that was not an opinion and which was made at the end of one of the Representatives' period for questioning witnesses and in which there was no more time for questions to be addressed. Of course, the reason for Burton's defensiveness is that these are inconvenient facts (as most are) for neo-cons. It's unbelievable how intellectually dishonest these guys are. They had (and still have, in some ways, because of the spinelessness of too many Dems) their way in pushing undemocratic, unaccountable, unresponsive government, for several years after 9/11/01, but when the tables are turned, they attempt to minimize the validity of opposing points of view. And Chris Shays just seems bonkers. He was very brusque with Prince even though his questions weren't particularly harsh. He really is a sick dog. Who knows WHAT goes on behind closed doors with him.

To be honest, Prince seems like an OK guy-at least he's somewhat decent. Given the lawlessness of his company, he seems pretty forthcoming. He might be a nice guy. Again, that is not reason to win a billion dollars in contracts. He's obviously a hard-core neo-con judging by his financial contributions to the Republican party, but the problem is really bigger than whether Blackwater is running amok in Iraq. What we really need is testimony of the State Dept. about the accountability of Blackwater and whether they are accountable to the Dept. of Defense. And unfortunately they are not accountable to the Dept. of Defense, but to the Dept. of State. It is this crossing of wires in the accountability of US personnel is the unaccountable space in which Blackwater and others like them can act so blithely.

Humorous quote of the last 20 minutes: Prinz says: "I think my financial folks will tell you I'm not a financially-driven guy." Yeah, that's why he just said earlier today that he made more than one million dollars in '06 while David Petraeus, the man in charge of US forces in Iraq, made at least six times less. Also in the previous link, Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus notes that in arranging a contract with Regency Hotel for hospital security, Blackwater charged Regency on average $1100 per day per person while their average employee made $600 a day. So you do the math. There are $500 per day per person profits on a 34 person contract negotiated for a year for a contract back in 2004 which is going straight into Blackwater's pocket. And the average pay for a soldier in Iraq? Glad you asked. Also from Pincus' article, an unmarried sergeant makes about $83 a day and a married sergeant, around $170. Something smell bad to you too?

(More has been written about this disaster capitalism by Naomi Klein including excerpts here, and the seminal book on Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill).

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