|Blackwater's Private CIA in Mexico|
|Monday, 30 June 2008 06:14|
This past September, the secretive mercenary company Blackwater USA found its name splashed across front pages throughout the world after the company's shooters gunned down seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square. But by early 2008, Blackwater had largely receded from the headlines save for the occasional blip on the media radar sparked by Congressman Henry Waxman's ongoing investigations into its activities. Its forces remained deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and business continued to pour in. In the two weeks directly following Nisour Square, Blackwater signed more than $144 million in contracts with the State Department for "protective services" in Iraq and Afghanistan alone and, over the following weeks and months, won millions more in contracts with other federal entities like the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Blackwater's Iraq contract was extended in April, but the company is by no means betting the house on its long-term presence there. While the firm is quietly maintaining its Iraq work, it is aggressively pursuing other business opportunities. In September it was revealed that Blackwater had been "tapped" by the Pentagon's Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office to compete for a share of a five-year, $15 billion budget "to fight terrorists with drug-trade ties." According to the Army Times, the contract "could include antidrug technologies and equipment, special vehicles and aircraft, communications, security training, pilot training, geographic information systems and in-field support." A spokesperson for another company bidding for the work said that "80 percent of the work will be overseas." As Richard Douglas, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, explained, "The fact is, we use Blackwater to do a lot of our training of counternarcotics police in Afghanistan. I have to say that Blackwater has done a very good job."
Complete article, HERE.
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© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.Monday, May 5, 2008
A New Blackwater Controversy on the U.S.-Mexico BorderFrontera NorteSur
A proposed project run by the private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide is once again kicking up political hay on the US-Mexico border. Earlier rebuffed in its attempt to open a large training camp in the rural San Diego County community of Potrero, Blackwater now finds itself in a battle over the company's bid to open a training facility for the US Navy. Like Potrero, the latest controversy has pried open a Pandora's Box of thorny issues ranging from border relations to the Iraq war. The current dispute centers on Blackwater's plans to manage a 48-student school in San Diego County's Otay Mesa on the US-Mexico border and just down the road from US Border Patrol offices. According to Blackwater's plans, the site will offer indoor shooting instruction and simulated ship training to improve the anti-terrorist skills of naval personnel.
US Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), a leading Blackwater critic, said in a radio interview late last week that the presence of a "private mercenary army" on the border, where it is hard to tell who is a citizen and who is not, was a "recipe for disaster." Rep. Filner and other Blackwater opponents often cite the company's record in Iraq as grounds for opposing the North Carolina-based firm's further expansion into the public sphere. Blackwater has been mired in controversies arising from the 2004 killing of four company personnel in Fallujah, Iraq, and from the shootings of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater employees last year. "They shoot first and ask later," Rep. Filner charged.
On April 25, Rep. Filner and San Diego City Councilman Ben Hueso joined about 30 community activists for a rally against an Otay Mesa Blackwater school.
Brian Bonfiglio, Blackwater vice-president, dismissed the opposition as ideologically-driven. Bonfiglio said that Blackwater has been conducting military training for five years at other locations in San Diego County, including the privately-owned American Shooting Center. The Otay Mesa school would not train private security contractors, he said.
The San Diego Development Services Department issued a permit March 19 for the Otay Mesa site without a public hearing. Kelly Broughton, department director, said Blackwater's permit complied with an earlier designation of the Otay Mesa building as a vocational school. Broughton said the training of "future police or security" guards would be a proper activity meeting a vocational trade definition.
But Rep. Filner and members of the San Diego City Council contend that Blackwater could have used deceptive practices to obtain the permit, which was obtained by Raven Development Group, a Blackwater affiliate. The design plans for the school were submitted under the name of Southwest Law Enforcement, another Blackwater affiliate. According to the California congressman, he is working with the city council and county attorney to investigate the permit and determine if there are reasons to revoke it. He urged community activists to "take a look" to see how many places along the border Blackwater was operating under different names.
In earlier comments to the local press, Blackwater's Bonfiglio insisted that the company had nothing to hide and that the legality of the permit was above-board. Bonfiglio added that the Otay Mesa row could have repercussions for others. "If they go after our range, they are getting ready to take on every other firearms business in the county," he said.
Last March Blackwater withdrew its application for an 824-acre training camp in Potrero after gunfire tests showed potential noise from the facility would exceed county standards. The proposed Potrero camp generated stiff citizen opposition, resulting in the voter recall of all five members of the planning board who approved the project. Initially surfacing in Potrero, anti-Blackwater sentiments are now focused on Otay Mesa.
"We need more training for peace," said Jeanette Hartman, chairwoman of a local Sierra Club committee. "I'll be happy when they open a peace center."——————————
Sources: Pacifica Radio/Democracy Now, May 2, 2008. San Diego Union-Tribune, April 23, 26 and 29, 2008. Articles by Anne Krueger and Tanya Mannes. NBC-San Diego, April 22, 2008. Stopblackwater.net——————————
Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico——————————
(Reprinted with authorization from Frontera NorteSur, a free, on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news source. FNS can be found at http://frontera.nmsu.edu/)
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Posted: 2008-06-06 14:39:42
San Diego, 6 Jun (Notimex).- El ejército privado Blackwater comenzó hoy a entrenar a una veintena de efectivos de la armada estadunidense en un centro de prácticas paramilitares en la frontera con México, confirmó Brian Bonfiglio, vicepresidente de la empresa.
Bonfiglio dijo a medios de prensa locales que el centro de entrenamientos está disponible para cualquier corporación policiaca que desee capacitar a sus elementos en técnicas como las del equipo de tácticas y armas especiales (Swat).
El centro de prácticas clasificado como "escuela vocacional" con el nombre de "policía fronteriza" se ubica a unos 500 metros de la primera de dos mallas metálicas que dividen a California de la ciudad mexicana de Tijuana.
Blackwater abrió su centro de prácticas con autorización de la magistrada federal en San Diego, Marilyn Huff, pese a que el gobierno local analiza el procedimiento que siguió para registrarse a través de dos compañías del condado sin que apareciera su nombre.
Los argumentos de la alcaldía y la procuraduría de distrito de San Diego serán escuchados por Huff en una audiencia que tendrá verificativo este mismo mes.
Sin embargo, Lucas O?Connor, un activista de la organización Coraje de California contraria a la instalación del centro de entrenamiento de Blackwater, informó que la batalla legal continúa.
O"Connor dijo que Blackwater requiere todavía de varios permisos y aseguró que sus trámites serán revisados con mayor escrutinio, pero agregó que este mes la ciudad de San Diego demandaría respeto a sus decisiones de usos de terrenos ante la corte federal.
Como parte de la campaña de Coraje de California contra Blackwater en la región, la próxima semana podría presentarse en San Diego el autor del libro "El nacimiento del ejército mercenario más poderoso del mundo", Jeremy Scahill, dijo O"Connor.
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La administración del presidente George W. Bush ha colocado su propuesta para militarizar México en la Ley de Gastos Suplementarios de Irak y que fue aprobada parcialmente a fines de mayo.
Por Laura Carlsen
|Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2008 06:34|