Man Who Wrote the Book on Blackwater to Visit DeKalb

Jeremy Scahill, author of New York Times Bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books, 2007) will give a presentation and be available for book signing Tuesday, May 15, at 3:00 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 158 North Fourth Street.

Blackwater USA, founded in 1996 in North Carolina , is the largest private military base in the world and has recently opened a facility in Jo Daviess County. There, a coalition of local citizens and area peace groups are challenging Blackwater on grounds that they have violated zoning laws. Its attempt to buy land in San Diego County is being challenged by a coalition of environmentalists, local citizens and U.S. Representative Bob Filner.

The company has faced Congressional investigations for shady subcontracting and faces civil litigation in North Carolina. In 2004 four Blackwater contractors were killed and mutilated, their bodies hung from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq, sparking two subsequent military interventions in that city and according to some profoundly influencing the turn to sectarian civil war in that conflict. The families of the contractors are suing for wrongful death and appeared before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Congress on February 7.

“Private contractors like Blackwater work outside the scope of the military’s chain of command and can literally do whatever they please without any liability or accountability from the US government,” Katy Helvenston, whose son Scott was one of the Blackwater contractors killed, told the committee. “Therefore, Blackwater can continue accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money from the government without having to answer a single question about its security operators.”

According to the latest government contract records, since June 2004 Blackwater has been awarded $750 million in State Department contracts alone. The company has extensive ground presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, was deployed in New Orleans and is lobbying to be hired in Darfur.

This presentation is sponsored by the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice and the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb. For more information on Jeremy Scahill’s book tour in Illinois and nationwide, see www.blackwaterbook.com. For more information on his talk in DeKalb call Dan Kenney 815-793-0950.

[From a May 3 press release.]