10/21/2007

Who's Really Looting The American Treasury

Watch Bill Moyers Interview with Jeremy Scahill.


See Full Transcript:
JEREMY SCAHILL: "What I see in the bigger picture here is what the real revolution is in terms of U.S. politics is that they're taking billions of dollars in public money. And they're privatizing it.

You know, the Pentagon can't give campaign contributions. The State Department can't give campaign contributions. Blackwater's executives can give contributions. DynCore's, Ratheon, Northrop Grumman. And so what they're doing is, they're taking billions of dollars. And it's making its way back into the campaign coffers of the very politicians that make the meteoric ascent of these companies possible. I really view this through the lens of it tearing away at the fabric of American democracy as well."..............


JEREMY SCAHILL: What I see in the bigger picture here is what the real revolution is in terms of U.S. politics is that they're taking billions of dollars in public money. And they're privatizing it.

You know, the Pentagon can't give campaign contributions. The State Department can't give campaign contributions. Blackwater's executives can give contributions. DynCore's, Ratheon, Northrop Grumman. And so what they're doing is, they're taking billions of dollars. And it's making its way back into the campaign coffers of the very politicians that make the meteoric ascent of these companies possible. I really view this through the lens of it tearing away at the fabric of American democracy as well.
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JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, right now in Iraq, there are 180,000 contractors operating alongside 170,000 US troops. So it's effectively a doubling or more than doubling of the occupation force. What this does is it subverts the citizenry in the United States. You no longer have to have a draft. You don't have to depend on your own citizens to fight your wars. You can simply hire up the poor of the world to work for American and British companies occupying another country.

BILL MOYERS:: What do these private contractors, their guys, make compared to American soldiers on the ground?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well it varies widely depending on the company, depending on their role, depending on their nationality. If you're a former Navy Seal or a Delta Force guy working for Blackwater, you can make about 600 dollars a day for your work in Iraq. I mean, we're talking six figure salaries. Some of these guys working for private military companies make as much as-- as General Petreyas if not more.

BILL MOYERS:: Which is?

JEREMY SCAHILL:He makes about $180,000 a year. Average troops in the ground, some of these kids are being paid forty thousand dollars a year to be in the exact same war zone as Erik Prince's men from Blackwater. And they're wearing the American flag on their shoulder, not the Blackwater logo. ........................



BILL MOYERS: The thought was, you know, suppose we had a national emergency. Suppose the terrorists struck again. And a President, President Hillary Clinton, or President Barack Obama declared marshal law in order to try to deal with this threat. And there was a private army of twenty thousand soldiers that I could call upon to throw a ring around the capital and make sure that the Congress didn't leave town or didn't get back to the capital if-- how far fetched is that?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, I was in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And I think we saw a real window into the possible future. You know, I was standing on a street corner in the French quarter on Bourbon Street. And I was talking to two New York City police officer who had come down to help. And this is just a couple of days after the hurricane had hit. And this car speeds up next to us. No license plates on it, a compact car. And three massive guys get out of it. And they have M-4 assault rifles, bullet proof vests, wearing khakis, wrap around sunglasses, baseball caps on. And they come up and they say to the cops, "Where are the rest of the Blackwater guys?" And my head sort of started, you know, I didn't even hear the answer. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Where are the rest of the Blackwater guys? So, they get back in their vehicle and they speed off. And I said to this cop, Blackwater? You mean the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan? They said, oh, yeah. They're all over the place down here. And so, I said, well, I'd like to talk to them. Where are they? And they said, you can go either way on the street, implying that they're everywhere. So, I walked a little bit deeper into the French quarter. And sure enough, I encountered some Blackwater guys. And when I talked to them, they said that they were down there to confront criminals and stop looters.

BILL MOYERS: Who called them in?

JEREMY SCAHILL:And-- well, this is an interesting story. Erik Prince sent them in there with no contract initially. About 180 Blackwater guys were sent into the Gulf. They got there before FEMA. I don't even know if FEMA's there yet. But they got there before FEMA, before there was any kind of a serious operation in the city at all.

BILL MOYERS: On Prince's own decision?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, so Prince sends them in. Within a week, Blackwater was given a contract from the Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service to engage in security operations inside of New Orleans. At one point, Blackwater had six hundred men deployed down there stretching from Mississippi through-- from Texas through Mississippi and the Gulf. They were pulling in $240,000 a day. Some of these guys though had just been in Iraq two weeks earlier guarding the US ambassador. Now, they're in New Orleans. They say, oh, we do this sort of as a vacation. One was complaining to me that there wasn't enough action down here. And when I talked to them, they told me they were getting paid 350 dollars a day, plus a per diem.

BILL MOYERS: By homeland security?

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, they were being paid by Blackwater. When I got Blackwater's contract with the Department of Homeland Security, it turns out that Blackwater billed US taxpayers 950 dollars per man per day in the hurricane zone.

BILL MOYERS: A profit margin of 600 dollars.

JEREMY SCAHILL:Well, I mean, the math on this stuff is always complicated. And Erik Prince and his men are very good at drawing up charts and sort of, you know, just saying, well, there's this detail and this detail. The Department of Homeland Security then did an internal review and they determined that it was the best value to the taxpayer, at a time when the poor residents of New Orleans were being chastised for how they used their two thousand dollar debit cards that often didn't work, the ones provided by FEMA. But what was even scarier than seeing the Blackwater operatives on the streets of New Orleans was, I encountered two Israeli commandos who had been brought in by a wealthy businessman in New Orleans and set up an armed checkpoint outside of his gated community. And they were from a company called Instinctive Shooting International. ISI, which is an Israeli company. I mean, and I went up and I talked to them. And they tapped on their automatic weapons and said, you know, over in our country, when the Palestinians see this, they're not so afraid because they're used to it. But you people, you see it, and you're very afraid. They were almost proud of the fact that I was sort of in awe seeing Israeli commandos patrolling a US street, operating in fact an armed check point.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, once upon a time, companies and others hired Pinkerton guards, private guards. But never on this scale, right?

JEREMY SCAHILL:No. I mean, you know, it was like Baghdad on the bayou down there in New Orleans. And-- I mean, this is the point I'm making. The poor drowned. They are left without food. They're called looters when they take perishable goods out of a store when they've been systematically neglected. The rich bring in their mercenaries to guard their properties or their businesses or their hotel chains. And I think it's a window into what happens in a national emergency. And in this country, the poor are left to suffer and die and the rich bring in their mercenaries.


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4 comments:

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CANRAC said...

It's amazing that since the tax protest fizzled how angry and hateful the OTBL bunch has become, by golly Lil Bill even came out of exile. Lukes head is up his ass even at new depths as he searches for the cure for "Public Employee Envy", and the rest of the gang has just gone nuts. Does nobody showing up to the tax protest maybe tell them something else?? I'm sure nobody was stayed away in fear of the bully public employees.

Devil's Advocate said...

Canrac,

Maybe you're right. Desperate LOOSERS
turn to desperate measures when their ship full of rats starts sinking.

What a far cry from the Powerline wingnut hot tub orgies of yesteryear.

Dr. Bill is a gas, especially when he invites the police to his own crib, HELL!