While the Bush Administration calls for the immediate disbanding of what it has labeled "private" and "illegal" militias in Lebanon and Iraq, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its own global private mercenary army tasked with protecting US officials and institutions overseas. The secretive program, which spans at least twenty-seven countries, has been an incredible jackpot for one heavily Republican-connected firm in particular: Blackwater USA. Government records recently obtained by The Nation reveal that the Bush Administration has paid Blackwater more than $320 million since June 2004 to provide "diplomatic security" services globally. The massive contract is the largest known to have been awarded to Blackwater to date and reveals how the Administration has elevated a once-fledgling security firm into a major profiteer in the "war on terror." [...]This just goes to show you that huge sums of money can buy prominence and success - at the expense of taxpayers who get the shaft. No wonder Dick DeVos is in favor of privatizing public services here in Michigan. He wants in on some of those "pyramiding profits" too.
A heavily redacted 2005 government audit of Blackwater's WPPS [Worldwide Personal Protective Service] contract proposal, obtained by The Nation, reveals that Blackwater included profit in its overhead and its total costs, which would result "not only in a duplication of profit but a pyramiding of profit since in effect Blackwater is applying profit to profit." The audit also found that the company tried to inflate its profits by representing different Blackwater divisions as wholly separate companies.
The WPPS contract awarded in 2004 was divided among a handful of companies, among them DynCorp and Triple Canopy. Blackwater was originally slated to be paid $229.5 million for five years, according to a State Department contract list. Yet as of June 30, just two years into the program, it had been paid a total of $321,715,794. When confronted with this apparent $100 million discrepancy, the State Department could not readily explain it. Blackwater's two years of WPPS earnings exceed many estimates of the company's total government contracts, which the Virginian-Pilot recently put at $290 million combined since 2000. Six years ago the government paid Blackwater less than $250,000. [...]
While the WPPS program and the broader use of private security contractors is not new, it has escalated dramatically under the Bush Administration. According to the most recent Government Accountability Office report, some 48,000 private soldiers, working for 181 private military firms, are deployed in Iraq alone. Blackwater, now one of the most prominent and successful companies providing soldiers in Iraq, was relatively unknown until March 31, 2004, when four of its contractors were ambushed and killed in Falluja [see Scahill, "Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater," May 8]. In the days and weeks that followed, company executives hired ultra-connected lobbyists and were welcomed by powerful government officials as heroes, allowing the firm to solidify its role in the Bush Administration's foreign policy apparatus. [...]
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Mercenary Jackpot for DeVos Relative
All that money the DeVos family donates to the Republican Party is starting to pay off, especially for brother-in-law Eric Prince, the right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater USA. Here's the latest from Jeremy Scahill at The Nation [all emphasis added]: