Friday, November 16, 2007

A Lady Who Doesn't Need Diamonds or Pearls

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blackwater Sniper Fells Three Iraqi Security Guards

So today we find this delicious little scandal concerning our favorite mercenaries:

BAGHDAD -- Last Feb. 7, a sniper employed by Blackwater USA, the private security company, opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry. The bullet tore through the head of a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague's side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony.

Eight people who responded to the shootings -- including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander -- and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where a U.S. diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as "an act of terrorism" and said Blackwater "caused the incident." The media network concluded that the guards were killed "without any provocation."

The U.S. government reached a different conclusion. Based on information from the Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, the State Department determined that the security team's actions "fell within approved rules governing the use of force," according to an official from the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Neither U.S. Embassy officials nor Blackwater representatives interviewed witnesses or returned to the network, less than a quarter-mile from Baghdad's Green Zone, to investigate.

The incident shows how American officials responsible for overseeing the security company conducted only a cursory investigation when Blackwater guards opened fire. The shooting occurred more than seven months before the Sept. 16 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians at another Baghdad traffic circle.

The Feb. 7 shootings convulsed the Iraqi Media Network, one of the prominent symbols of the new Iraq, in anger and recrimination.

U.S. officials and the security company, now known as Blackwater Worldwide, offered no compensation or apology to the victims' families, according to relatives of the guards and officials of the network, whose programming reaches 22 million Iraqis.

"It's really surprising that Blackwater is still out there killing people," Mohammed Jasim, the Iraqi Media Network's deputy director, said in an interview. "This company came to Iraq and was supposed to provide security. They didn't learn from their mistakes. They continued and continued. They continued killing."

Basically, State's justification was that Blackwater said they were fired upon, so that was the truth, and no investigation or evidence was required at all. Blackwater ducked charges in the Iraqi court because of Bremer's 2004 law granting them blanket immunity. And this wasn't just Blackwater shooting at civilian vehicles. The snipers fired from one government compound into another government compound, and they knew it too. The guards were guarding the state-owned and US-funded television station al-Iraqiya. Blackwater was told this by the Justice Department. And then, as the Iraqi guards, clearly in military camoflague and standing on guard towers with the Iraqi flag, in broad daylight no less, directed people away from parking at the TV station because they were worried about car bombs, Blackwater's mercenaries gunned them down in cold blood. And got away with murder.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fans Show Love for the Writers' Strike

So today we are going to spread around the brownie points in honor of the growing blogger support for the writers' guild strike. Also some love for those blogging to show their non-guild writer's support for the fight against studio greed. One blogger comments that a division between studios and the better writers may find those writers using the internet to sell direct to the fans and cut out the studios themselves. Interesting concept. Elsewhere, it's plain to people that the advent of webisodes aren't an advertisement for a show but just allow networks not to pay writers. And here's one blogger's letter in support of the strike to the AMPTP. Brownie points even for the hot Republican chicks who quote Ann Coulter.

The strike goes to the heart of respecting work again in this country. What the guild has been seeking in negotiations is "exceedingly reasonable" to Republicans who read up on the issue, and it's great to see there's some hope labor issues can be seen as nonpartisan. Even though the actors of the Office have shut down their show in support of the WGA by calling out sick, it's great to see the overwhelming support of their fans. We even have a mega-site now for all fans to show their love, so check it out!!

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 05, 2007

Time for the Writers of our Shows to Get Their Money

So today marks Day One of the strike by the Writer's Guild of America. Although most studio executives are out there bragging they can hold out indefinately until the writers agree to be fleeced, I have to believe in the good fight. Everyone who appreciates the extraordinary stories brought to us through our favorite shows, and the truth brought to us by media outside of Faux News, should unite in support. The success of this strike will mean a world of difference to artists both inside the Guild and those aspiring to join them.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Blackwater Provides US Intelligence to Foreign Buyers

So today we are going to contemplate the politics of using the word treason, especially when it gets so cleverly wrapped in the trapings of globalization. Blackwater developed it's own private intelligence agency and now hires out former CIA agents and their experience to the highest foreign bidder. And they admit point out that they are gleaning information from foreign contacts, developed by it's employees while they were in government service, which would be considered the treasonous exchange of state secrets to a foreign government if these foriegners took their information to a US embassy. The silent side of that logic is that capitalism permits the exchange of US classified information and state secrets to a foreign private individual for money. Shortly after 9-11 there was a lot of focus on the dangers to democracy posed by non-state actors. But it seems that instead of learning from history, conservative Republicans were falling in love with the concept of developing armed religious mercenary forces beyond the control of world government.

You learn in government service that it's not enough to avoid providing proof of wrong-doing, but you must also avoid the opportunity to do that wrong. It's not enough not to be caught having sex with a prostitute, you must also not be found in her hotel room with money in your hand. Here we have former CIA agents and other civil servants, building a shadow intelligence agency to collect intelligence they insist is only open source, after having spent a career developing skills focused on intelligence that was anything but publically available. What do they plan to provide intelligence analysis on? Their Global Fusion Center, staffed around the clock, searches for warnings on everything from terrorist plots on radical Islamic Web sites to possible political upheavals in Asia, [b]labor strikes[/b] in South America and Europe, and economic upheavals that could affect private enterprise. "We're not a private detective," former CIA's head of counterterrorism Cofer Black said. "We provide intelligence to our clients. It's not about taking pictures. It's business intelligence. We collect all information that's publicly available. This is a completely legal enterprise. We break no laws. We don't go anywhere near breaking laws. We don't have to."

America and Iraq have learned quite bloodly over the past few months that Blackwater doesn't believe that any laws apply to them at all, or should. If laws applied to Blackwater, as they have consistently argued in court, the ability of the Commander-in-Chief to wage war would be crippled, even while Blackwater was busy changing it's name from Blackwater USA to Blackwater Worldwide. Odd that Black insists that their intelligence operations don't involve pictures, while the live feed from al-Jazeera plays in the background and GoogleEarth is a common feature on computers across America. Yeah, who can blame the reader who swallows that one. But what is Black talking about in terms of gathering information from terrorist websites that's publically available. We happen to have had it out in public quite recently that the gathering of information from these sites uses technologies that provide illegal uses if they were used to hack say, information from Target's pharmacy records about whose getting emergency contraception. Even open source, we are talking about a global form of Operation CHAOS. Yes, the building of files on union activists and anti-war protestors in order to protect the interests of the highest bidder. Funded by conservative Republicans who are using your tax money.

How concerned should a democracy be considering that this intelligence is being fed into an organization with no alligence to the United States, and will consist of analysis of anyone who they have been paid to spy on. Such activities can be reasonably understood to include infiltration both of internet groups and face-to-face of anti-war and fair trade organizations, labor unions and human rights groups. A list of the children of labor rights organizers in Brazil and their schools and routes home. A method of concealing arms shipments from international inspection or even the law. The interrogation of democracy activists in Burma. The suppression of local activists protesting the corrupt regime in Nigeria and it's support by international oil companies. All of which are activities fundamentally in odds with the spread of democracy in the world and the idea of open societies.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, November 02, 2007

Blackwater Smuggles an Illegal Kind of Silence into Iraq

So today bloggers get to chow down on reports that Blackwater smuggled silencers into Iraq and other countries without the permission of the State Department. Yes, that means the kind of smuggling that's illegal. The particular issue seems to have arisen from the broader investigations of illegal arms smuggling being investigated by the BATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C. Experts are of course puzzeled as to why Blackwater would need silencers in escort missions for diplomats and kitchen equipment. While there's dim hope that trials brought by non-violent protesters arrested outside Blackwater's home camp will bring forth any paperwork, the effect of protesters against Blackwater has shown to produce a valuable freak-out effect in the war contractors. Meanwhile, two cars from the Blackwater massacre at Nisour Square are coming to the USA curtosy of the FBI. The labs at Quantico VA plan to use the cars to match bullets to bullet holes and create a virtual crime scene.

My dear readers can go here for an amusing story about Blackwater on vacation in Mexico... and drunk. Elsewhere, the story of Blackwater in New Orleans continues to find people who hadn't heard that the mercenaries were there. Not invited per se, they just showed up and insisted that Homeland Security pay them, which they did to a tune of $950 a day per hot gun. The math means that Blackwater made a sheer profit of $600 a day per bloke. Along those lines, Blackwater is trying to buy goodwill for a new Blackwater training camp in California by providing a tent city for those displaced by recent wildfires.

Meanwhile, CodePink punked Blackwater!! Read on:

Within minutes of Code Pink's emailing out a press conference invitation in the name of Blackwater's new Department of Corporate Integrity, Blackwater was on the phone to the Code Pink D.C. house. We hadn't sent them the invitation, but they got it right away, anyway.

“We're Blackwater and we don't know anything about this,” our confused caller said.

“Well if you're Blackwater, how come don't you know anything about this?...” a Code Pinker replied.

Code Pinkers stayed in character as Kitty Laver of Blackwater while our phones rang off the hook from Blackwater and the press, confused because the mercenary firm was claiming they didn't know anything about this and the press couldn't find any information on a Kitty Laver [aka Medea Benjamin]. A television network called us to schedule Blackwater president Eric Prince for their morning talk show. We accepted, and arranged for a friend to show up as Prince, but that appointment soon fell through, given the growing questions about this press conference. Through Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, no one admitted we were not Blackwater, though the occasional irrepressible whoop of glee in the background might have raised suspicions. Code Pinkers planned the Wednesday press conference in three hours of late-night brainstorming Tuesday.

The next morning we headed over to the Phoenix Hotel, Medea and Des all in black as Kitty Laver and her assistant... We also had a “disgraced Blackwater employee” in an orange prisoner's jumpsuit, and his plain clothes guard. The rest of us wore white coveralls with (paper) Blackwater logos, logo hats, and white rubber gloves as we gathered in front of the hotel, while hefty security men in suits and ties blocked the hotel's entrance and watched us, unsmiling.

The press was gathered, waiting to find out who we really were. As we walked up, someone said, “Oh, it's Code Pink!” But we stayed in character.

Medea as Kitty explained that while Blackwater had not had corporate integrity before now, we were here to take on the task of cleaning up its tarnished image, starting with a generous gift to the disadvantaged of the next generation. As Des displayed some macho fighting man action toys bearing the fierce Blackwater logo, Kitty said the new corporate cleanup crew would be distributing them to disadvantaged youth in the city's homeless shelters during the holidays, “to help them on the road to growing up to be mercenaries themselves!”

The hilarity hardly dispells the growing public outrage over the grant of immunity to the Blackwater mercenaries who slaughtered unarmed civilians at Nisour Square in September. The exact wording of the immunity reads: "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry...I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001." Which means that it allows them to be prosecuted for lying about killing innocent civilians in cold blood but not for the actual act of murder. If the FBI wants to make a case against the mercenaries, it will have to be based entirely on the forensic evidence of the scene and Iraqi testimony. Which means that they will be unable to point out that Blackwater lied on the character issue. Of course, if Blackwater presents the same pack of lies at trial, and are not convicted, they will be able to use that to escape being prosecuted for lying on those statements. The immunity is bushshit. Moonbat doesn't get immunity for the statements that she provides in her work as a government employee!!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,

Labels: , , ,