Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Of Blackwater and Blackshirts
Tonight, NPR's Brian Naylor covered the testimony - to a House oversight committee - by relatives of four American Blackwater mercenaries who were killed and had their corpses gruesomely desecrated in Fallujah, Iraq back in March of 2004. (Interestingly NPR focused on minimizing and justifying the use of corpse-desecration by the US military in October 2005 in Afghanistan.)
The emphasis of Naylor's report is on the charges made by the relatives: that negligence and profiteering by Blackwater Corporation, and a lack of government oversight over the company, led to the deaths of their loved ones. This is worthwhile, but in some ways is old news that NPR should have been covering earlier; it also is not the most crucial story about Blackwater. The story that NPR news has yet to cover is the insidious nature of the Blackwater enterprise and it's founder, Erik Prince, and how Blackwater is just one element in the rise of a network of reactionary paramilitaries which Chris Hedges convincingly suggests could emerge as a sort of "praetorian guard" for the extremist Christian right. Coupled with the neo-Nazi infiltration of the US military itself, this threat should be getting far more coverage than it is.
I have a modest suggestion for NPR. Given that Blackwater is based in North Carolina, given that the CIA "special rendition" torture flights have a North Carolina connection, and given that North Carolina seems to be a hub for the growing paramilitary empire - NPR should send a reporter or two to North Carolina to check out this phenomenon. I'd recommend Anne Garrels, who might use her husband's CIA connections and his work with Air America to flesh out the whole nature of covert air operations. North Carolina is not all that far from Washington, DC and so expenses could be kept to a minimum. It's just an idea...and it's just a story that has profound implications for the very survival of our democratic institutions and freedoms.
*Blackshirts were the paramilitaries in fascist Italy.