Tag Archives: blackwater

Don’t read this about Blackwater! Why ruin your illusions, so carefully manufactured by our government’s info ops.

I strongly recommend reading this in full.  It’s a long and well-documented (as such things go) article.  Why should foreigners be the only ones to know the truth about America’s wars?

Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan“, Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, 23 November 2009 — Excerpt:

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found.

… Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe Services and US Training Center, denies the company is operating in Pakistan. “Xe Services has only one employee in Pakistan performing construction oversight for the U.S. Government,” Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo said in a statement to The Nation, adding that the company has “no other operations of any kind in Pakistan.”

A former senior executive at Blackwater confirmed the military intelligence source’s claim that the company is working in Pakistan for the CIA and JSOC, the premier counterterrorism and covert operations force within the military. He said that Blackwater is also working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan. This arrangement, the former executive said, allows the Pakistani government to utilize former US Special Operations forces who now work for Blackwater while denying an official US military presence in the country. He also confirmed that Blackwater has a facility in Karachi and has personnel deployed elsewhere in Pakistan. The former executive spoke on condition of anonymity.

We don’t know because we cover our eyes.

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More about pirates: why we no longer “hang them high”

Summary:  This is the second in a series about pirates.  The first chapter described modern day piracy, and why our “catch and release” response makes it an attractive low-risk, high-return business.  This describes the legal basis for their capture, trial, and punishment.  Links to the other chapters appear at the end.

Journalist Bret Stephens asks “Why Don’t We Hang Pirates Anymore?” (op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, 25 November 2008).  His answers:

  1. No controlling legal authority, providing a basis on which to fight, capture, try, and punish pirates.
  2. International law (e.g., the Law of the Sea Convention) makes action against pirates difficult.
  3. UN authorization is necessary for most effective actions against pirates, such as attacking their bases.

All of these things are true, but they secondary factors (discussed in the next chapter).  The vast majority of articles about piracy concentrate on these minor things.  This post will attempt a clearer and more comprehensive explanation.

Pirates were hung for two reasons.

  1. They routinely killed people during the course of their raiding. 
  2. During their years of infamy in the 17th and early 18th century, capital punishment was routine for many crimes. 

The last point is widely ignored in discussions of piracy, such as Stephen’s.  Consider the laws of England.

In the years after 1660 the number of offences carrying the death penalty increased enormously, from about 50, to 160 by 1750 and to 288 by 1815. You could be hanged for stealing goods worth 5 shillings (25p), stealing from a shipwreck, pilfering from a Naval Dockyard, damaging Westminster Bridge, impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner or cutting down a young tree. This series of laws was called (later) “The Bloody Code.” (source: UK National Archives)

In 1769 the great jurist William Blackstone wrote in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (Book IV, chapter 1;  source, Wikipedia entry):

YET, though in this instance we may glory in the wisdom of the English law, we shall find it more difficult to justify the frequency of capital punishment to found therein; inflicted (perhaps inattentively) by a multitude of successive independent statutes, upon crimes very different in their natures. It is a melancholy truth, that among the variety of actions which men are daily liable to commit, no less than 150 have been declared by act of Parliament to be felonies without benefit of clergy ; or, in other words, to be worthy of instant death.

Conclusion:  we do not hang pirates today because:
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