[News] Blackwater Goes to Mexico

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 9 14:54:21 EST 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/ross11092007.html

November 9, 2007


Full Spectrum Mercenaries


Blackwater Goes to Mexico

By JOHN ROSS

If and when private security contractor Blackwater USA and its 
heavily-armed operatives are forced to pull out of Iraq as the result 
of the September 16th rampage in downtown Baghdad when its employees 
massacred up to 28 Iraqis, Mexico could be a profitable option for 
the North Carolina-based company.

Actually, Blackwater is almost in Mexico already. For months, the 
North Carolina-based corporation has been pressuring local San Diego 
officials to grant it an operating license for an 824-acre training 
site to be known as Blackwater West in Potrero California 45 miles 
east of that bustling port city but only six miles from the Tecate 
Mexico border crossing. The site, some of which snakes through the 
Cleveland National Forest, is a favored transit route for 
undocumented Mexican workers heading north and has been recently 
scorched by out-of-control wildfires.

Blackwater USA's plans have drawn the ire of locals who are not happy 
about having 15 firing ranges in earshot and a coalition of 
homeowners, local farmers, environmentalists, and peaceniks has been 
pieced together to oppose the project. Nonetheless, Blackwater has 
kept up a full court press on county officials, even sailing the 
company yacht flying a humongous Blackwater flag, into a local marina 
last spring and inviting members of the planning commission aboard 
for cocktails.

Blackwater USA is attracted to the San Diego area because of the 
heavy concentration of military bases such as Camp Pendleton in the 
environs that could produce a windfall of security and training 
contracts from its pals in the Pentagon. Blackwater USA was founded 
by ex-Navy Seal Eric Prince who cultivates close ties with the military.

One of Blackwater's most rah-rah backers in the Potrero venture is 
local congressman Duncan Hunter, ranking republican on the House 
Armed Services Committee and a dark horse candidate for his party's 
presidential nomination. Hunter is considered one of the most 
virulent anti-Mexican immigration voices in congress and is a 
political architect of the separation wall that now lines 
California's border with Mexico.

The dispute over Blackwater's proposed Potrero training camp is not 
just a NIMBY-type confrontation. Siting the facility a stone's throw 
from the Mexican border internationalizes the proposition. By any 
stretch of the imagination, Mexican president Felipe Calderon ought 
to be nervous about the encampment of the world's largest private 
army on his conflictive northern border, particularly one that is not 
accountable to either the Geneva Convention or U.S. and Mexican 
military and civil law. Yet Calderon has not publically protested the proposal.

Situated in rugged high desert terrain, Potrero is an idyllic 
hideaway to train a new generation of Rambos - one can imagine guest 
motivational appearances by Sylvester Stallone and California's 
action figure governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The camp which, in 
addition to multiple shooting ranges, will house an armory and 
feature both a 33,000 square feet urban counter-insurgency set and a 
course where armed vehicles seek to evade a paint ball barrage, is 
expected to train military and law enforcement personnel as well as 
private paramilitary security forces.

Blackwater USA has trained dozens of police forces at its Moyock 
North Carolina complex in the heart of that state's Great Dismal 
Swamp, including big city (New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and 
Chicago) officers as well as rural forces like the Maricopa County 
Arizona sheriff's department. Maricopa County, which includes 
Phoenix, is a first stop for undocumented Mexican migrants and the 
local police have been deputized to assist the Department of Homeland 
Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to corral the 
"indocumentados."

Blackwater USA's strategic position overlooking the Mexican border in 
Potrero presents inviting economic opportunities. Testifying before 
congress in 2005, then-Blackwater president Gary Jackson said that 
the North Carolina enterprise was prepared to provide assistance on 
border security and long-time connections inside DHS could generate 
lucrative contracts training increasingly heavily-armed ICE agents. 
San Diego congressperson Bob Filner, a Democrat told Salon Magazine's 
Elaine Zimmerman last month that he believes Blackwater is 
positioning itself to move into the border security business.

As the National Guard troops brought back from Iraq by George Bush to 
patrol the border and appease fellow-republicans like Hunter are 
drawn down (3000 have already been pulled back), Blackwater USA is 
poised to fill in the gap. Blackwater would also be useful in 
strengthening security at troubled immigration detention centers 
along the border, more than half of which have already been privatized.

In an October 15th Wall Street Journal interview Prince indicated 
that Iraq-type operations were no longer at the top of Blackwater 
USA's business agenda and that he saw his company as going more "full 
spectrum." Now, as they move into their new facility on the Mexican 
border, Eric Prince & Company appear to be set to expand into both 
border enforcement and the Bush White House drug war with an 
operational role in Plan Mexico, the $1.5 billion U.S.-Mexico drug 
war scheme to fuse drug-fighting agencies on both sides of the border 
under Washington's control.

Despite repeated advisories from the White House that Plan Mexico is 
a done deal, Bush and Calderon have yet to formalize the pact, 
pending approval by the U.S. Congress.

The request for three half billion dollar Plan Mexico pay-outs 
through 2009 was sent on to congress folded into a near $50 billion 
supplemental spending bill to finance Bush's wars in Iraq and 
Afghanistan but given Democratic aversion to funding these failed 
military escapades in an election year, passage is not assured. Plan 
Mexico has spread widespread suspicion south of the border with many 
Mexicans condemning the project as a grievous violation of national 
sovereignty.

Modeled on Washington's flawed Plan Colombia, which has pumped 
billions into that South American nation to bolster the right-wing 
regime of Alvaro Uribe, one of Bush's few allies in the hemisphere, 
Plan Mexico will supply this not-so-distant neighbor nation with 
upgraded military hardware and cutting edge technological savvy - the 
New York-based Verint Technology is already installing a 
voice-activated "communication interruption" system that will audit 
all phone and e-mail traffic in Mexico and to the U.S. The 
surveillance technology, which is being bankrolled by a U.S. State 
Department grant, appears to be as much in violation of the Mexican 
constitution as Bush's massive, secret surveillance dragnet of his 
own citizens violates the U.S. magna carta.

Unlike Plan Colombia, Plan Mexico does not contemplate the stationing 
of U.S. troops on Mexican soil. Such an adventure would be 
universally unpopular here - the U.S. has invaded Mexico eight times 
since this country won its independence in 1821. To insure that U.S. 
military personnel stays on their side of the line, Mexican drug 
fighters are trained out of country, mainly at the Center for Special 
Forces in Fort Bragg North Carolina (100 miles as the crow flies from 
Blackwater's Moyock complex.)

Nonetheless, as the military pares itself down and outsources its 
services, training Mexican troops is a role that a new 
"full-spectrum" Blackwater USA seems perfectly positioned to assume 
at the Potrero site. Because it is not formally a part of the U.S. 
military, Blackwater could also infiltrate personnel across the 
border for on-site engagement inside Mexico.

Coincidentally, according to a recent report in the Army Times (Sept. 
14th), Blackwater USA has just been handed a sizeable chunk of a $15 
billion USD drug war grant by the Department of Defense (Raytheon is 
another big winner.) Part of the Blackwater boodle is slated for the 
design of an unmanned aerostat surveillance platform that has been 
subcontracted with the Maryland-based Arinc Corporation. The "blimp" 
project (if that what is being proposed) marks a radical departure 
for Eric Prince's conglom, which has never before been a supplier of 
technology to the military.

According to the Army Times report, the DOD grant mandates Blackwater 
USA "to deploy surveillance techniques, train foreign security 
forces, and provide logistical and operational support" for drug war 
initiatives.

Founded in 1996 by Prince and a handful of ex-Navy Seal buddies, 
Blackwater USA's business boomed in the wake of 9/11 and it is 
heavily invested in Bush's War on Terror. Drug war operations 
represent a field in which Blackwater has little experience but 
which, logistically at least, is not much different from the security 
firm's terror war duties. In recent years, the White House has done 
its damndest to conflate the War on Drugs with the War on Terror.

Blackwater USA's enlistment in the drug war is a direct challenge to 
its stiffest competitor, DynCorp - up until now, the Dallas-based 
corporation has locked up 94% of all private drug war security contracts.

Blackwater USA's move into combating narco-terrorism will give the 
North Carolina outfit a foot up in Latin America where the private 
security industry is flourishing. Blackwater now employs 1200 
Chileans, ex-members of dictator Augusto Pinochet's military, in its 
international operations - in addition to its contracts in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, Blackwater provides security for high officials in 
Azerbaijan, Jordan, and Bokano Faso among other governments.

But Blackwater USA's Colombian subsidiary, ID Systems, ran into a 
storm of criticism when it recruited 20 ex-military officers for the 
company's Iraq operation - the recruits now claim that they were paid 
less than half of what their contracts called for and were kept by 
Blackwater USA in Iraq against their wills.

Under the U.S.'s post 9/11 security redesign, military protection of 
the homeland has become the province of the newly created North 
Command, now housed in a Colorado bunker. Within the North Command's 
schema, Mexico forms a major portion of the U.S.'s southern security 
perimeter but with the U.S. military severely restricted in its 
abilities to put Special Forces on Mexican soil to combat the 
terrorists, narco or otherwise, Blackwater USA, perched as it is on 
the border at its Potrero California training camp and equipped with 
multi-million dollar DOD grants, stands ready to provide logistical 
and operational support to further Washington's designs on Mexico and 
the South.

Friends and Enemies of John Ross are cordially invited to attend "Eye 
on Mexico", a celebration of the 97th anniversary of the Mexican 
revolution and a benefit to buy the author a new eye. "Eye on Mexico" 
is set for Friday Nov. 16th, 7 PM at New College, 777 Valencia Street 
in San Francisco's Mission District.




Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

www.Freedomarchives.org  
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