The Coincidence Theorist’s Guide to 9/11

The Coincidence Theorist’s Guide to 9/11

Happy coincidenting!

That governments have permitted terrorist acts against their own people, and have even themselves been perpetrators in order to find strategic advantage is quite likely true, but this is the United States we’re talking about.

That intelligence agencies, financiers, terrorists and narco-criminals have a long history together is well established, but the Nugan Hand Bank, BCCI, Banco Ambrosiano, the P2 Lodge, the CIA/Mafia anti-Castro/Kennedy alliance, Iran/Contra and the rest were a long time ago, so there’s no need to rehash all that. That was then, this is now!

That Jonathan Bush’s Riggs Bank has been found guilty of laundering terrorist funds and fined a US-record $25 million must embarrass his nephew George, but it’s still no justification for leaping to paranoid conclusions.

That George Bush’s brother Marvin sat on the board of the Kuwaiti-owned company which provided electronic security to the World Trade Centre, Dulles Airport and United Airlines means nothing more than you must admit those Bush boys have done alright for themselves.

That George Bush found success as a businessman only after the investment of Osama’s brother Salem and reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mahfouz is just one of those things – one of those crazy things.

That Osama bin Laden is known to have been an asset of US foreign policy in no way implies he still is.

That al Qaeda was active in the Balkan conflict, fighting on the same side as the US as recently as 1999, while the US protected its cells, is merely one of history’s little aberrations.

The claims of Michael Springman, State Department veteran of the Jeddah visa bureau, that the CIA ran the office and issued visas to al Qaeda members so they could receive training in the United States, sound like the sour grapes of someone who was fired for making such wild accusations.

That one of George Bush’s first acts as President, in January 2001, was to end the two-year deployment of attack submarines which were positioned within striking distance of al Qaeda’s Afghanistan camps, even as the group’s guilt for the Cole bombing was established, proves that a transition from one administration to the next is never an easy task.

That so many influential figures in and close to the Bush White House had expressed, just a year before the attacks, the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” before their militarist ambitions could be fulfilled, demonstrates nothing more than the accidental virtue of being in the right place at the right time.

That the company PTECH, founded by a Saudi financier placed on America’s Terrorist Watch List in October 2001, had access to the FAA’s entire computer system for two years before the 9/11 attack, means he must not have been such a threat after all.

That whistleblower Indira Singh was told to keep her mouth shut and forget what she learned when she took her concerns about PTECH to her employers and federal authorities, suggests she lacked the big picture. And that the Chief Auditor for JP Morgan Chase told Singh repeatedly, as she answered questions about who supplied her with what information, that “that person should be killed,” suggests he should take an anger management seminar.

That on May 8, 2001, Dick Cheney took upon himself the job of co-ordinating a response to domestic terror attacks even as he was crafting the administration’s energy policy which bore implications for America’s military, circumventing the established infrastructure and ignoring the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman report, merely shows the VP to be someone who finds it hard to delegate.

That the standing order which covered the shooting down of hijacked aircraft was altered on June 1, 2001, taking discretion away from field commanders and placing it solely in the hands of the Secretary of Defense, is simply poor planning and unfortunate timing. Fortunately the error has been corrected, as the order was rescinded shortly after 9/11.

That in the weeks before 9/11, FBI agent Colleen Rowley found her investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui so perversely thwarted that her colleagues joked that bin Laden had a mole at the FBI, proves the stress-relieving virtue of humour in the workplace.

That Dave Frasca of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit received a promotion after quashing multiple, urgent requests for investigations into al Qaeda assets training at flight schools in the summer of 2001 does appear on the surface odd, but undoubtedly there’s a good reason for it, quite possibly classified.

That FBI informant Randy Glass, working an undercover sting, was told by Pakistani intelligence operatives that the World Trade Center towers were coming down, and that his repeated warnings which continued until weeks before the attacks, including the mention of planes used as weapons, were ignored by federal authorities, is simply one of the many “What Ifs” of that tragic day.

That over the summer of 2001 Washington received many urgent, senior-level warnings from foreign intelligence agencies and governments – including those of Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Afghanistan and others – of impending terror attacks using hijacked aircraft and did nothing, demonstrates the pressing need for a new Intelligence Czar.

That John Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft in July 2001 on account of security considerations had nothing to do with warnings regarding September 11, because he said so to the 9/11 Commission.

That former lead counsel for the House David Schippers says he’d taken to John Ashcroft’s office specific warnings he’d learned from FBI agents in New York of an impending attack – even naming the proposed dates, names of the hijackers and the targets – and that the investigations had been stymied and the agents threatened, proves nothing but David Schipper’s pathetic need for attention.

That Garth Nicolson received two warnings from contacts in the intelligence community and one from a North African head of state, which included specific site, date and source of the attacks, and passed the information to the Defense Department and the National Security Council to evidently no effect, clearly amounts to nothing, since virtually nobody has ever heard of him.

That in the months prior to September 11, self-described US intelligence operative Delmart Vreeland sought, from a Toronto jail cell, to get US and Canadian authorities to heed his warning of his accidental discovery of impending catastrophic attacks is worthless, since Vreeland was a dubious character, notwithstanding the fact that many of his claims have since been proven true.

That FBI Special Investigator Robert Wright claims that agents assigned to intelligence operations actually protect terrorists from investigation and prosecution, that the FBI shut down his probe into terrorist training camps, and that he was removed from a money-laundering case that had a direct link to terrorism, sounds like yet more sour grapes from a disgruntled employee.

That George Bush had plans to invade Afghanistan on his desk before 9/11 demonstrates only the value of being prepared.

The suggestion that securing a pipeline across Afghanistan figured into the White House’s calculations is as ludicrous as the assertion that oil played a part in determining war in Iraq.

That Afghanistan is once again the world’s principal heroin producer is an unfortunate reality, but to claim the CIA is still actively involved in the narcotics trade is to presume bad faith on the part of the agency.

Mahmood Ahmed, chief of Pakistan’s ISI, must not have authorized an al Qaeda payment of $100,000 to Mohammed Atta days before the attacks, and was not meeting with senior Washington officials over the week of 9/11, because I didn’t read anything about him in the official report.

That Porter Goss met with Ahmed the morning of September 11 in his capacity as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has no bearing whatsoever upon his recent selection by the White House to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

That Goss’s congressional seat encompasses the 9/11 hijackers’ Florida base of operation, including their flight schools, is precisely the kind of meaningless factoid a conspiracy theorist would bring up.

It’s true that George HW Bush and Dick Cheney spent the evening of September 10 alone in the Oval Office, but what’s wrong with old colleagues catching up? And it’s true that George HW Bush and Shafig bin Laden, Osama’s brother, spent the morning of September 11 together at a board meeting of the Carlyle Group, but the bin Ladens are a big family.

That FEMA arrived in New York on Sept 10 to prepare for a scheduled biowarfare drill, and had a triage centre ready to go that was larger and better equipped than the one that was lost in the collapse of WTC 7, was a lucky twist of fate.

Newsweek’s report that senior Pentagon officials cancelled flights on Sept 10 for the following day on account of security concerns is only newsworthy because of what happened the following morning.

That George Bush’s telephone logs for September 11 do not exist should surprise no one, given the confusion of the day.

That Mohamed Atta attended the International Officer’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base, that Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School, that Saeed Alghamdi attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey merely shows it is a small world, after all.

That Lt Col Steve Butler, Vice Chancellor for student affairs of the Defense Language Institute during Alghamdi’s terms, was disciplined, removed from his post and threatened with court martial when he wrote “Bush knew of the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. What is…contemptible is the President of the United States not telling the American people what he knows for political gain,” is the least that should have happened for such disrespect shown his Commander in Chief.

That Mohammed Atta dressed like a Mafioso, had a stripper girlfriend, smuggled drugs, was already a licensed pilot when he entered the US, enjoyed pork chops, drank to excess and did cocaine, was closer to Europeans than Arabs in Florida, and included the names of defence contractors on his email list, proves how dangerous the radical fundamentalist Muslim can be.

That 43 lbs of heroin was found on board the Lear Jet owned by Wally Hilliard, the owner of Atta’s flight school, just three weeks after Atta enrolled – the biggest seizure ever in Central Florida – was just bad luck. That Hilliard was not charged shows how specious the claims for conspiracy truly are.

That Hilliard’s plane had made 30-round trips to Venezuela with the same passengers who always paid cash, that the plane had been supplied by a pair of drug smugglers who had also outfitted CIA drug runner Barry Seal, and that 9/11 commissioner Richard ben-Veniste had been Seal’s attorney before Seal’s murder, shows nothing but the lengths to which conspiracists will go to draw sinister conclusions.

Reports of insider trading on 9/11 are false, because the SEC investigated and found only respectable investors who will remain nameless involved, and no terrorists, so the windfall profit-taking was merely, as ever, coincidental.

That heightened security for the World Trade Centre was lifted immediately prior to the attacks illustrates that it always happens when you least expect it.

That Hani Hanjour, the pilot of Flight 77, was so incompetent he could not fly a Cessna in August, but in September managed to fly a 767 at excessive speed into a spiraling, 270-degree descent and a level impact of the first floor of the Pentagon, on the only side that was virtually empty and had been hardened to withstand a terrorist attack, merely demonstrates that people can do almost anything once they set their minds to it.

That none of the flight data recorders were said to be recoverable even though they were located in the tail sections, and that until 9/11, no solid-state recorder in a catastrophic crash had been unrecoverable, shows how there’s a first time for everything.

That Mohammed Atta left a uniform, a will, a Koran, his driver’s license and a “how to fly planes” video in his rental car at the airport means he had other things on his mind.

The mention of Israelis with links to military-intelligence having been arrested on Sept 11 videotaping and celebrating the attacks, of an Israeli espionage ring surveiling DEA and defense installations and trailing the hijackers, and of a warning of impending attacks delivered to the Israeli company Odigo two hours before the first plane hit, does not deserve a response. That the stories also appeared in publications such as Ha’aretz and Forward is a sad display of self-hatred among certain elements of the Israeli media.

That multiple military wargames and simulations were underway the morning of 9/11 – one simulating the crash of a plane into a building; another, a live-fly simulation of multiple hijackings – and took many interceptors away from the eastern seaboard and confused field commanders as to which was a real hijacked aircraft and which was a hoax, was a bizarre coincidence, but no less a coincidence.

That the National Military Command Center ops director asked a rookie substitute to stand his watch at 8:30 am on Sept. 11 is nothing more than bad timing.

That a recording made Sept 11 of air traffic controllers’ describing what they had witnessed, was destroyed by an FAA official who crushed it in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building, is something no doubt that overzealous official wishes he could undo.

That the FBI knew precisely which Florida flight schools to descend upon hours after the attacks should make every American feel safer knowing their federal agents are on the ball.

That a former flight school executive believes the hijackers were “double agents,” and says about Atta and associates, “Early on I gleaned that these guys had government protection. They were let into this country for a specific purpose,” and was visited by the FBI just four hours after the attacks to intimidate him into silence, proves he’s an unreliable witness, for the simple reason there is no conspiracy.

That Jeb Bush was on board an aircraft that removed flight school records to Washington in the middle of the night on Sept 12th demonstrates how seriously the governor takes the issue of national security.

To insinuate evil motive from the mercy flights of bin Laden family members and Saudi royals after 9/11 shows the sickness of the conspiratorial mindset.

Le Figaro’s report in October 2001, known to have originated with French intelligence, that the CIA met Osama bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, proves again the perfidy of the French.

That the tape in which bin Laden claims responsibility for the attacks was released by the State Department after having been found providentially by US forces in Afghanistan, and depicts a fattened Osama with a broader face and a flatter nose, proves Osama, and Osama alone, masterminded 9/11.

That at the battle of Tora Bora, where bin Laden was surrounded on three sides, Special Forces received no order to advance and capture him and were forced to stand and watch as two Russian-made helicopters flew into the area where bin Laden was believed hiding, loaded up passengers and returned to Pakistan, demonstrates how confusing the modern battlefield can be.

That upon returning to Fort Bragg from Tora Bora, the same Special Operations troops who had been stood down from capturing bin Laden, suffered a unusual spree of murder/suicides, is nothing more than a series of senseless tragedies.

Reports that bin Laden is currently receiving periodic dialysis treatment in a Pakistani medical hospital are simply too incredible to be true.

That the White House went on Cipro September 11 shows the foresightedness of America’s emergency response.

That the anthrax was mailed to perceived liberal media and the Democratic leadership demonstrates only the perversity of the terrorist psyche.

That the anthrax attacks appeared to silence opponents of the Patriot Act shows only that appearances can be deceiving.

That the Ames-strain anthrax was found to have originated at Fort Detrick, and was beyond the capability of all but a few labs to refine, underscores the importance of allowing the investigation to continue without the distraction of absurd conspiracy theories.

That Republican guru Grover Norquist has been found to have aided financiers and supporters of Islamic terror to gain access to the Bush White House, and is a founder of the Islamic Institute, which the Treasury Department believes to be a source of funding for al Qaeda, suggests Norquist is at worst, naive, and at best, needs a wider circle of friends.

That the Department of Justice consistently chooses to see accused 9/11 plotters go free rather than permit the courtroom testimony of al Qaeda leaders in American custody looks bad, but only because we don’t have all the facts.

That the White House balked at any inquiry into the events of 9/11, then starved it of funds and stonewalled it, was unfortunate, but since the commission didn’t find for conspiracy it’s all a non issue anyway.

That the 9/11 commission’s executive director and “gatekeeper,” Philip Zelikow, was so closely involved in the events under investigation that he testified before the the commission as part of the inquiry, shows only an apparent conflict of interest.

That commission chair Thomas Kean is, like George Bush, a Texas oil executive who had business dealings with reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mafouz, suggests Texas is smaller than they say it is.

That co-chair Lee Hamilton has a history as a Bush family “fixer,” including clearing Bush Sr of the claims arising from the 1980 “October Surprise”, is of no concern, since only conspiracists believe there was such a thing as an October Surprise.

That FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds accuses the agency of intentionally fudging specific pre-9/11 warnings and harboring a foreign espionage ring in its translation department, and claims she witnessed evidence of the semi-official infrastructure of money-laundering and narcotics trade behind the attacks, is of no account, since John Ashcroft has gagged her with the rare invocation of “State Secrets Privilege,” and retroactively classified her public testimony. For the sake of national security, let us speak no more of her.

That, when commenting on Edmond’s case, Daniel Ellsberg remarked that Ashcroft could go to prison for his part in a cover-up, suggests Ellsberg is giving comfort to the terrorists, and could, if he doesn’t wise up, find himself declared an enemy combatant.

I could go on. And on and on. But I trust you get the point. Which is simply this: there are no secrets, an American government would never accept civilian casualties for geostrategic gain, and conspiracies are for the weak-minded and gullible.

http://rigorousintuition.blogspot.com/2004/08/coincidence-theorists-guide-to-911.html

The Taser is going wireless.

Alarmed by recent incidents? Wait’ll you see what the company is planning for 2008
Dec 02, 2007 04:30 AM
Andrew Chung
Staff Reporter

The Taser is going wireless.

Until now, the electric-shock gun consisted of two barbed darts attached to wires that shoot out and strike the victim, immobilizing the person with 50,000 volts of electricity, causing severe pain and intense muscle contraction.

But the wires could only extend a few metres. With the new “extended range electronic projectile,” or XREP, the Taser has been turned into a kind of self-contained shotgun shell and can be fired, wire-free, from a standard shotgun, which police typically have in their arsenal already.

The first electrode hooks on to the target, the second electrode falls and makes contact elsewhere on the body, completing the circuit and activating the shock. It can blast someone as far as 30 metres away, and, unlike the current stun guns, whose shock lasts five seconds, the XREP lasts 20 seconds, enough time to “take the offender into custody without risking injury to officers.”

Taser International spokesperson Steve Tuttle says the XREP would be perfect in a standoff. “Here’s someone you just don’t want to get anywhere near,” he says.

The XREP is one of two major new applications the Scottsdale, Ariz., company is preparing to field test, a prospect that makes Taser’s critics anxious. They say more study is needed of the old products, let alone the new.

Tasers are sparking all sorts of questions and concerns these days.

Like death after Tasing. Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died after the RCMP Tased him when he’d become agitated after spending 10 hours inside the secure area at the Vancouver airport.

Or questionable Tasing. University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was Tased even though a handful of officers had already piled on top of him after he refused to stop asking former presidential candidate John Kerry questions at the microphone. (He’s the one who uttered that now infamous plea that has spawned bumper stickers and T-shirts: “Don’t Tase me, bro!”)

Tasers are now used by more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies in 44 countries. There are more than 428,000 Tasers in the field, not to mention the tens of thousands of Tasers that have been sold to civilians.

And the innovations keep coming.

Besides the XREP, the company has developed a device meant to keep someone from approaching a certain area – a tactic called “area denial.” “What if you could drop everyone in a given area to the ground with the simple push of a button?” asks a dramatic promotional video for the “Shockwave.”

Taser has turned its weapon into a connected series of six darts arranged in an arc. The company says the device can be extended in a chain or stacked “like Lego,” depending on the needs of the user.

So an army platoon, for instance, could use it to prevent unwanted people from approaching their camp, and not have to risk getting close to their targets.

Amnesty International, which has raised concerns for years, says the Shockwave poses serious risks of inappropriate use. When you target an entire area, or a crowd, you can’t distinguish between the individuals you’re trying to restrain, says Hilary Homes, a security and human rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.

“It targets everybody to the same intensity or effect,” Homes says. “With materials like that, you worry about …arbitrary and indiscriminate use.”

Tuttle says the technology will be used for military applications, “not for a riot in Toronto.”

Amnesty says that between 2001 and Sept. 30, 2007, there were more than 290 deaths of individuals struck by police Tasers in North America, including 16 in Canada. It reports that only 25 of those electroshocked were armed, and none with firearms. It’s calling for a moratorium on their use by police until a full, independent inquiry is held.

Homes says the new shotgun-style Taser doesn’t pose any risks that aren’t already there with the older weapon, except that “this allows more things to be done from a greater distance.”

Mostly, it’s the concern over the expansion of this technology even as there is heated debate over the devices’ safety. “We’d prefer there weren’t new variations until a study of the central technology was done,” she says.

The safety concerns revolve around the growing number of deaths following Tasering and the increasing use of the term “excited delirium” by the company and other experts to explain the deaths, while denying the weapon any culpability.

Excited delirium is a catchall phrase to describe symptoms of extreme stress, such as disorientation, profuse sweating, paranoia, and superhuman strength.

When someone is in such a condition – heart racing, blood pressure bursting, fight-or-flight hormones like adrenalin coursing through their body – wouldn’t a giant electrical jolt just make things worse?

“Show me the medical and mechanical reasons why it would make it worse when doctors are telling us, when someone is in that situation you should treat it as a medical emergency and get that person to a medical trauma centre in the quickest way,” Tuttle says. “With no Taser, he’s impervious to pain, agitated, slippery with sweat – you won’t get control in five seconds. Maybe you’ll use batons, which won’t work, pepper spray, which is much more stressful, a bean-bag round, maybe deadly force because the situation spins out of control?”

Dr. David Evans, the Toronto regional supervising coroner for investigations, says that while there’s no proof to say the shock could make things worse, “I agree potentially it could.” But, he adds, “why aren’t they dropping dead immediately?”

Evans says that it doesn’t seem to make sense that the Taser is at fault in the deaths, because the deaths have not been instantaneous. “Normally you’d expect that if someone was going to die from electrocution related to electrical discharge, they’d die right there and then, within a few seconds,” he says.

Tasering doesn’t cause changes in the heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, which leads to death, he says.

It’s a view that Ontario’s deputy coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns, has used to help shape the Toronto Police Services Board policy toward allowing Toronto police to use Tasers. Cairns also spoke at a Taser tactical conference in Chicago last July about excited delirium.

Taser points out that the weapon has not been implicated in any of the deaths in Canada. “We’re just repeating what the medical examiners are saying,” says Tuttle. “The vast majority of those cases have been excited delirium or (drug) overdose.”

Even though “excited delirium” isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis, it may be listed as a “contributory factor” in police-custody deaths, Evans says, but not as the primary cause.

Taser isn’t the only company developing electrical stun weapons. Indiana-based Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems has, in a prototype phase, a futuristic weapon that sends out a streak of lightning, apparently by projecting an ionized gas or ionizing the air itself with a laser, which conducts the electricity forward. The technology could potentially also be used to disable vehicles and, in the future, to help militaries neutralize incoming rocket propelled grenades.

Taser expects its new products to be available by mid-2008.

http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/Technology/article/281670

HEAT-RAY CROWD-BUSTER

Coming to a demonstration near you very soon

Fox (W)anchor calls for car bombing in Iran

How propaganda works

Blackwater Down

Blackwater Down

by JEREMY SCAHILL

The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces “join[ing] the hurricane relief effort.” But its men on the ground told a different story.

Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone’s apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony’s railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.

Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. “I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte,” said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem. “When they told me New Orleans, I said, ‘What country is that in?'” he said. He wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it.

In an hourlong conversation I had with four Blackwater men, they characterized their work in New Orleans as “securing neighborhoods” and “confronting criminals.” They all carried automatic assault weapons and had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with pouches for extra ammunition.

When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said, “We’re on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.” Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, “He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.” The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck. Blackwater spokesperson Anne Duke also said the company has a letter from Louisiana officials authorizing its forces to carry loaded weapons.

“This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government,” says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal.”

Blackwater is not alone. As business leaders and government officials talk openly of changing the demographics of what was one of the most culturally vibrant of America’s cities, mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions. Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn’s hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn’s security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn’s associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from “black gangbangers” on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. “At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner,” he recalls. “I dropped the phone and returned fire.”

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.”

Then, Montgomery says, “the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn’t even care. They just left.” Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on “how they could get out of the city.” Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. “One thing about security,” Montgomery says, “is that we all coordinate with each other–one family.” That co-ordination doesn’t include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.

A few miles away from the French Quarter, another wealthy New Orleans businessman, James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration as chairman of the city’s Regional Transit Authority, brought in some heavy guns to guard the elite gated community of Audubon Place: Israeli mercenaries dressed in black and armed with M-16s. Two Israelis patrolling the gates outside Audubon told me they had served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military, and one boasted of having participated in the invasion of Lebanon. “We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives,” one of them tells me. “Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists.” Then, tapping on his machine gun, he says, “Most Americans, when they see these things, that’s enough to scare them.”

The men work for ISI, which describes its employees as “veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or ‘Shin Beit’), Other restricted intelligence agencies.” The company was formed in 1993. Its website profile says: “Our up-to-date services meet the challenging needs for Homeland Security preparedness and overseas combat procedures and readiness. ISI is currently an approved vendor by the US Government to supply Homeland Security services.”

Unlike ISI or BATS, Blackwater is operating under a federal contract to provide 164 armed guards for FEMA reconstruction projects in Louisiana. That contract was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security firms. “We believe we’ve got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety,” he said. Before the contract was announced, the Blackwater men told me, they were already on contract with DHS and that they were sleeping in camps organized by the federal agency.

One might ask, given the enormous presence in New Orleans of National Guard, US Army, US Border Patrol, local police from around the country and practically every other government agency with badges, why private security companies are needed, particularly to guard federal projects. “It strikes me…that that may not be the best use of money,” said Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Blackwater’s success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater’s CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush’s victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum’s re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he “saw a lot of things I didn’t agree with–homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the Administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns.”

Prince, a staunch right-wing Christian, comes from a powerful Michigan Republican family, and his father, Edgar, was a close friend of former Republican presidential candidate and antichoice leader Gary Bauer. In 1988 the elder Prince helped Bauer start the Family Research Council. Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy, once chaired the Michigan Republican Party and is married to Dick DeVos, whose father, billionaire Richard DeVos, is co-founder of the major Republican benefactor Amway. Dick DeVos is also a big-time contributor to the Republican Party and will likely be the GOP candidate for Michigan governor in 2006. Another Blackwater founder, president Gary Jackson, is also a major contributor to Republican campaigns.

After the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries in Falluja in March 2004, Erik Prince hired the Alexander Strategy Group, a PR firm with close ties to GOPers like DeLay. By mid-November the company was reporting 600 percent growth. In February 2005 the company hired Ambassador Cofer Black, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department and former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, as vice chairman. Just as the hurricane was hitting, Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group, named Joseph Schmitz, who had just resigned as the Pentagon’s Inspector General, as the group’s chief operating officer and general counsel.

While juicing up the firm’s political connections, Prince has been advocating greater use of private security in international operations, arguing at a symposium at the National Defense Industrial Association earlier this year that firms like his are more efficient than the military. In May Blackwater’s Jackson testified before Congress in an effort to gain lucrative Homeland Security contracts to train 2,000 new Border Patrol agents, saying Blackwater understands “the value to the government of one-stop shopping.” With President Bush using the Katrina disaster to try to repeal Posse Comitatus (the ban on using US troops in domestic law enforcement) and Blackwater and other security firms clearly initiating a push to install their paramilitaries on US soil, the war is coming home in yet another ominous way. As one Blackwater mercenary said, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”

The Prince of Blackwater

Frameshop: The Prince

Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 11:10:02 AM PDT

While the mainstream media has been murmuring about murders committed by Blackwater in Iraq, the last remnant of real American journalism has shed light on a darker story: Blackwater’s operations here at home.

Blackwater, it seems, is not just the key player in Bush’s coalition of the willing, but a secret weapon in Bush and Cheney’s plan to extinguish the American tradition of constitutional power and ignite a new era of royal power.

When seen through the Blackwater incident, all of Bush’s talk about his right to sole commanding authority over the army starts to make sense–Medieval sense.

And while the story of human rights abuses to Iraqis at the hands of Blackwater is important, the tale to be told in this incident is about a President who invaded a foreign country not to save the people therein, but as a strategy for transforming his own office–the office of the Presidency–into a form of rule reminiscent of the great royal estates that defined Europe before the age of constitutions.

The key to royal power, of course, is  not just unilateral decision making, but private armies–armies loyal not to the people or to the system or even to profit, but only to the throne.

Royal Power at Street Level
For most Americans, the image of royal power they hold in their heads comes from an engraving by Paul Revere of the 1770 Boston Massacre.  The ‘Red Coat’ soldier, loyal to King George III, fired upon the people to squelch dissent.  In our collective memory, this image of the king’s soldiers firing upon the people is the spark that sets the revolution in motion–it is our point of origin as a people.

The problem is  not just Blackwater.  There are now dozens and dozens of private armies hired by the Federal government, loyal too the President, and seemingly outside of any Constitutional process.

In the light of that image of the Boston Massacre we all hold in our minds by virtue of being Americans, consider Jeremy Scahill’s description of this incident in New Orleans–not Iraq, but Louisiana–following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina:

Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn’s hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn’s security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one

of Quinn’s associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from “black gangbangers” on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. “At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner,” he recalls. “I dropped the phone and returned fire.”

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.”

Then, Montgomery says, “the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn’t even care. They just left.” Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on “how they could get out of the city.” Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made.

(full story here)

Of all the well-deserved hand wringing over the Blackwater massacres of civilians in Iraq, the Quinn massacre of Americans is hardly known, barely reported.  As such the conversation has not even begun about private armies paid for by federal agencies and loyal, it seems, to nobody but themselves and the President of the United States.

The U.S. military, for its part, seems to have accepted that the king has for-hire militia at his disposal and that they give the House the kind of carte blanche it has been seeking vis-à-vis street level deployment of non-police, non-military, non-national-guard, non-federal-marshal deadly force. All those other uses of force fall under some kind of jurisdiction, but not the Blackwater’s and Quinn armies of America. They are under the jurisdiction of contract law, business outsourcing by government.  And George W. Bush has restructured that government enough to allow for these firms to play a central role anywhere he wants, without approval or oversight from anyone.

Loyal To King or Country
‘Royal power’ means that power is a direct extension of the will of the executive, no longer tempered by the balance of powers set up with such genius by the frames of the U.S. Constitution.  But to see royal power as it has been extending into American politics–both at home and abroad–we need to pay look at these incidents in an entirely new way.

When the massacres of the Vietnam War came to light or even the massacre of Kent State, these were incidents where enlisted men made bad choices as a product of policies gone mad and cultural divide.  Soldiers who killed villages in Vietnam were not loyal to the President any more than anyone else.  They were drafted and enlisted men caught in a confusing policy that twisted their souls and turned them brutal.  When national guardsmen fired on college students in Ohio, it was not because they were hired  to do a job and saw themselves as working for nobody by the man at the top, but the product of a social chasm open so wide that it swallowed up lives.

Blackwater and its kind are different.  They are not just soldiers, not just police.  They are lines of loyalty bought, paid for and hidden from public view by the obfuscating jargon of Federal budgets.   Their loyalty is sternly vertical, extending through the CEO to the President in a perfect reinvention of vassal obligation.

Blackwater may be ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq or Katrina, but in political terms they are an extension of the king’s body.

Royal power extends from the king to the people, from top down, but it cannot unfold if the army belongs to the people and not to the king.  As Machiavelli described it, mercenaries and auxiliary armies can help extend rule for a short period of time, but for the will of the prince to become the will of the state, the king must make the army ‘his own.

continued