Blackwater goons in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
[This article is a followup to the one I published yesterday - "Blackwater (aka Xe) exposed by Scahill... again!"]
Here's the latest interview of Jeremy Scahill that I could find discussing his article in the Nation titled "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan".
In this interview (at ~8:00), Jeremy Scahill comes out and explicitly says that he felt that a call he received from the office of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was "an act of intimidation" to keep him from publishing his story in the Nation. Here's how Wikipedia describes the position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.Any questions? Good. Let's continue.
No news is not good news
The US ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, has called reports of a secret Blackwater operation in Pakistan "false and baseless". I know this because it appeared in a newspaper. Not an American newspaper mind you, but a Pakistani newspaper. Somehow the New York Times and the Washington Post don't think this is worth reporting.
Here's the official press release on the State Department website.
Correction For The RecordThis is a flat denial of the Scahill article. Notice they never mention the article explicitly, but allude to "a U.S. magazine" making "false assertions". If not for a search I did of Google news for 'Blackwater' I would have never been aware of this press release which went unreported in the US media. Clearly this official press release from the US embassy in Islamabad was for local Pakistani consumption only, and was not meant to be repeated by the US mainstream press. Why hasn't this been reported in the US press?
November 25, 2009
Islamabad - The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad rejects as completely false the assertions made recently by a U.S. magazine alleging secret Blackwater operations in Pakistan.
There is no secret operating base in Karachi or anywhere else in Pakistan being run, occupied, or otherwise operated by U.S. military personnel of any command or organization. The article's assertions about U.S. government collusion with Blackwater or any other contracting firm are equally baseless and false.
"U.S. government programs for Pakistan are open and transparent and function in partnership with the Government of Pakistan," said Ambassador Anne W. Patterson. "U.S. personnel and programs in Pakistan have only one purpose - to assist the government and people of Pakistan as they face the complex challenges confronting their nation."
I'll tell you what I think. And you can take it or leave it because it's just my opinion. I don't have any facts to back this up. But I think there has been an edict handed down by the powers in the State Department and the Pentagon saying that Blackwater (aka Xe) is not a subject to be discussed openly in the news media.
Just yesterday, at the State Department's daily briefing the first question was about Jeremy Scahill's article.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, let me give you a quick rundown on the Secretary’s events. You know she attended...So I checked today's briefing to see if State Department spokesperson, Ian Kelly, would give "a response" to Jeremy's article. You can find it here. And a quick search determines that the word 'Blackwater' never comes up. In fact there's no discussion of Pakistan at all. Is this a case of "don't ask, don't tell"?
[blah, blah, blah... blah, blah]
...how the United States and India can work together to meet global challenges like terrorism and climate change and other matters of regional and bilateral interest. And with that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: Do you have any response to the report in The Nation regarding what it says was a joint operation between the Joint Special Operations Command in Pakistan and Xe Services, nee Blackwater?
MR. KELLY: I do not. I have not seen this article.
QUESTION: So you have no response to that?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know. I’m sorry, you’ve – I just am not aware of this article. We’ll look at it and we’ll see if we can get a response for you.
To me the message is clear. "Blackwater is not something we're going to talk about. We're not going to confirm it or deny it. In fact we're not even 'aware' of it. And if you want to continue to be invited to these briefings, you won't be aware of it either."
Isn't it odd that with literally thousands of newspapers and radio and TV stations in the US, and the existence of a "free press" that not one has come out with any significant follow up to Jeremy Scahill's scathing exposé. Not one.
Yes Jeremy was invited today on to MSNBC's Morning Joe show, but the topic was quickly shifted in what was obviously a pre-arranged script. Sort of as if to say, "See... we do have a free press in the US. See... we gave Jeremy 2 or 3 minutes to talk about Blackwater. It's just that the American public isn't interested. They'd rather hear about how Sarah Palin is going to run for President in 2012."
So as I said, I don't have any facts to back up my allegations of a coordinated coverup. But that's not exactly true because I can give you some statistical evidence courtesy of Google.
In fact here's an experiment you can do yourself. Click on the link below to run a search of articles in the US that mention Scahill's Blackwater article.
Google news search
When I tried this today, I got 15 results. And none of those could be considered mainstream media.
When I do a similar search for blog articles in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get 290 hits. (My FNT article from yesterday shows up on the first page.)
And when I do a similar search for articles on the web in general in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get thousands of hits.
Conclusion - a news blackout
My conclusion is that the State Department and the Pentagon don't want to talk about this because they know that they will be caught up by their own denials. I also conclude that the word has been sent out to the main stream media not to bring up this subject.
And yet this is a crucial issue which should be discussed as President Obama prepares to send a request next week to Congress for 34,000 more troops in Afghanistan. We can only hope that some of our representatives in Congress will have the courage to bring this up in public hearings when General McChrystal goes before committees to justify this troop build up.
Jeremy Scahill has done his job in uncovering the basic information. Now it is up to the Congress to fulfill its obligation to investigate this further. And it would be a great assistance if the media would do its job of publicizing this issue. But if they won't, then "we the people" must take direct action and insist that Congress not shirk its Constitutional responsibilities. Please call your Congresspeople and urge them to bring up this issue of vital importance to the attention of the State Department and the Pentagon.
It's bad enough that Blackwater is bribing Iraqi officials "to silence their criticism and buy their support". Don't let something similar happen here in the US.
[UPDATE 1 - NOV 26]
It seems the cat's out of the bag in Pakistan. The mainstream Pakistani press is featuring Scahill's article in today's papers.
The Nation (a Pakistani newspaper - not the US magazine that originally published the story) has reproduced the entire article. It also has a short article titled "Will Mr. Malik resign now?".
ISLAMABAD – The Nation [Pakistani newspaper] has been exposing the Blackwater (now renamed Xe Worldwide) and DynaCorp presence in Pakistan for some time now with evidence, but the Interior Minister has continued to deny this presence - although he has finally conceded the presence of Dynacorp.The Pakistan Daily Times also has an article on this subject titled "Blackwater launching missions from Karachi", which gives a good summary of the Scahill article.
To begin with, Rehman Malik was hiding behind the fact that Blackwater had altered its name; but equally important Blackwater has also become a generic term for US military/security contractors, especially in the minds of most Pakistanis.
But now an American journalist, Jeremy Scahill, who has authored the definitive book on Blackwater has revealed the presence of this group in Pakistan as well as all its activities here. Since Mr. Malik had publicly claimed he would resign if the Blackwater presence was proven in Pakistan, we wonder whether he will do so now that his bluff has been called.
Coincidentally, yesterday US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson announced "the Obama Administration was going to release direct budgetary support of $175 million hard cash to Pakistan". Is this hush money which will be used to grease the palms of Pakistani officials to keep them from criticizing the role of Blackwater and the JSOC in Pakistan?
Will the US mainstream press continue to ignore the Scahill article now that it has been widely publicized in Pakistan? I'll bet the State Department longs for the days before the internet. Personally, I'm hoping that Jeremy's revelations about Blackwater go totally viral on the web to the point where the MSM can ignore them no longer. And then the Pentagon and the State Department will be forced to come up with some answers, and the Blackwater goons will be forced out of the murky shadows in which they like to operate and into the glaring public spotlight.
[UPDATE 2 - NOV 26]
Russia Today has picked up the story of Blackwater's secret operation in Pakistan as reported by Jeremy Scahill. There's no new revelations in this report which features investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, but it shows that the news is spreading. But what about pseudo-left MSM outlets like Rachel Maddow. Why hasn't she reported this story? Oh right, the military censors. I almost forgot.