Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater Founder Creating Private Army of 'Christian Crusaders' in the Persian Gulf
Continued from previous page
And if you have the support of the royals there, which he clearly does, and he’s supporting them—you know, it’s a marriage of convenience and love, apparently—then he has very little to worry about from them. Despite the fact that this Crown Prince can sit with President Obama one day and then be hatching mercenary plots with Erik Prince the next day, is a stunning commentary on how little things have changed from Bush to Obama on this issue of mercenaries.
AMY GOODMAN: And John Ashcroft, the former attorney general?
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, John Ashcroft has been named—I mean, you can’t make this stuff up—has been named the chief ethics officer for the new Blackwater, that’s actually being run by Bobby Ray Inman, who, you know, was a major figure under the Clinton administration, was picked to take over as defense secretary for Les Aspin, and his nomination was broiled in controversy.
AMY GOODMAN: And he was national security adviser.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And he was the former national security adviser. So they’re sort of trying to rebrand Blackwater. But, I mean—
AMY GOODMAN: New name, Xe, X-E?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, it changes every day. It’s Xe, or it’s United States Training Center. I mean, there’s—
AMY GOODMAN: USTC.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, there’s—I mean, Blackwater has all these shadow entities around the world. I mean, we’ve seen—a new one pops up every day. Now it’s Reflex Response now, R2, Paravant, Greystone. I mean, I could list probably—I could sit here for 10 minutes listing their various shell companies for you.
But, I mean, putting John Ashcroft in charge of ethics at Blackwater is like asking the fox to take care of the baby chicks, you know, on a farm somewhere and hoping everything is going to be fine. I mean, he’s going to devour the very idea of ethics. If you look at his track record when he was attorney general, I mean, this is not an ethical man and not anyone that has any business overseeing the ethics of a notorious mercenary firm.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Nisoor Square, the latest on it, the killings by Blackwater forces in Iraq?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, the five Blackwater guards, as they’re called, were indicted by the federal government for the shooting at Nisoor Square, and the case was dismissed largely on technical grounds and because of malfeasance on the part of prosecutors. The government—of federal prosecutors. The government appealed that decision. And recently, there was—excuse me—there was a ruling favorable to the government. And so, that case very well could move toward settlement, because the guards probably don’t want to stand trial, or it could go to trial, in which case there is going to be a question of how secret it’s going to be.
There is one civil case still remaining against Blackwater, that we’ve covered extensively on Democracy Now!, brought by the father of the youngest victim of the Nisoor Square shootings, the nine-year-old boy named Ali Kinani. That case has been moving forward quietly and could very well go to state court in North Carolina, where if it hits trial, there would be no cam on damages that could be awarded. So that really is the wild card to watch. It could be the one place where there’s any accountability for Blackwater at Nisoor Square.
AMY GOODMAN: And to sum up, this issue of no Muslims in this force that UAE has contracted Erik Prince for, this idea of a private Christian militia in the Middle East?