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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Praetorian Guard is expanding
Posted by Jill | 10:29 AM
At FDL, Naomi Wolf notes that Blackwater, that wonderful company responsible for most of the American killings of Iraqi civilians, has been awarded a government contract for fighting the so-called "drug war":

Late last month, the Pentagon tapped five major defense contractors to provide wide-ranging support in global counter-narcotics operations. The contract, worth up to $15 billion over the next five years, illustrates the extent to which the Defense Department is relying on contractors to perform critical missions while combat forces are stretched thin by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In response to specific task orders issued under the indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract, companies will develop and deploy new surveillance technologies, train and equip foreign security forces and provide key administrative, logistical and operational support to Defense and other agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Wolf, whose new book The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot outlines just how the Bush Administration is systematically taking us down the road to a fascist police state, explains just how terrifying this is:

In my recently released book, The End of America — Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, I describe the 10 steps that would-be tyrants use to close down a democracy and produce a “fascist shift.” The third of the ten steps is to ‘Develop a Paramilitary Force.’ Without a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the people’s representatives, democracy cannot be closed down; however, with such a force available to would-be despots, democracy can be drastically and quickly weakened.

Every effective despot — from Mussolini to Hitler, Stalin, the members of the Chinese Politburo, General Augusto Pinochet and the many Latin American dictators who learned from these models of controlling citizens — has used this essential means to pressure civilians and intimidate dissent. Mussolini was the innovator in the use of thugs to intimidate what was a democracy, if a fragile one, before he actually marched on Rome; he developed the strategic deployment of blackshirts to beat up communists and opposition leaders, trash newspapers and turn on civilians, forcing ordinary Italians, for instance, to ingest emetics. Hitler studied Mussolini; he deployed thugs — in the form of brownshirts — in similar ways before he came formally to power.

In light of these historical warning, we must ask, “What is Blackwater?” According to reporter Jeremy Scahill, the firm has 2,300 private soldiers deployed in nine countries, and maintains a database of an additional 21,000 to call upon at any time. Blackwater has over “$500 million in government contracts — and that does not include its secret ‘black’ budget…” [It also did not include, at the time Scahill’s wrote this description, the massive anti-narcotics contract described above.] One congressman pointed out that in terms of its manpower, Blackwater can overthrow “many of the world’s governments.” Recruiters for the company seek out former military from countries that have horrific human rights abuses and use secret police and paramilitary forces to terrify their own populations: Chileans, Peruvians, Nigerians, and Salvadorans.

Blackwater is coming home to Main Street, and one of our key constitutional protections is at stake. The future for growth is directed at increased deployment in the US in cases of natural disaster — or in the event of a ‘public emergency.’ This is a very dangerous situation, of course, now that laws have been passed that let the President decide on his say-so alone what a ‘public emergency’ might be.

The Department of Homeland Security hired these same Blackwater contractors to patrol the streets of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — for a contract valued at about $73 million. Does Blackwater’s reputation for careless violence against civilians in Iraq, protected by legal indemnification, matter to us? Scahill reports at least one private contractor’s accounts of other contractors’ abrupt shooting in the direction of American civilians in the wake of Katrina: “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped.”


(According to `the blueprint’ described in my book, unless people wake up in time, we in America are likely to see a call for a `security requirement’ for Blackwater to be deployed to `protect’ Congress and to be deployed around voting areas `to maintain public order’, and, unless we intervene, we will see them start to do crowd control when there are antiwar marches or other demonstrations. Then, again according to historical models, protesters will increasingly start to get hurt for `resisting arrest’ or for `provocations.’)

Because, to my sorrow, I know `the blueprint’, I was sad but not at all surprised when a horrified friend who works in downtown New York City told me that armed private contractors — who look like members of the NYPD but who are not answerable to any government entity — have been placed around the U.S. stock exchange. I went down to check it out. Indeed, Wall Street and the entire periphery of the Stock Exchange was like a militarized zone in the hands of what was not evident to onlookers as being in fact a private army: there were barricades; three immense trucks parked to deter and investigate pedestrians; armed dog handlers with their big dogs on tightly held leashes — all of this looks like government security but it isn’t. The company, hired, the guards said, by the stock exchange itself, is neutrally called `T & M.’ (More investigation of such companies is called for.)

I went up to a guard and, chatting sweetly, established from him that, indeed, none of these men were NYPD or even US government agents.

“That’s really big gun,” I remarked admiringly of his massive firearm, encased in leather. “What kind is it?”

“It’s a Glock,” said the contractor, with shy pride.

“Heavens!,” I said. “What kind of guidelines does the company give you for shooting?”

“Use our discretion,” he said. I thanked him, my heart racing.

So while Senate Democrats and Republicans are playing a game of chicken as to who should apologize for saying mean things to America's Military Men and Women™, The Bush Junta is preparing paramilitary squads to operate right here at home, tying in nicely with the the detention camps that KBR has been quietly building.

George W. Bush may not just be looking to outdo his father, it seems he wants to bring his grandfather's dream of a fascist state to fruition as well.

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