Scahill Talks Blackwater in DeKalb

Jeremy Scahill visited DeKalb and Jo Daviess County last week to talk about his book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Video News Service put together a short video for YouTube, Blackwater Invades Illinois, of Scahill’s hourlong talks at these venues, the Jo Daviess turnout estimated at 120-150 people. Blackwater recently opened controversial paramilitary training camp Blackwater North near Mt. Carroll, probably in violation of zoning laws there.

Highlights from Scahill’s talk in DeKalb, which I attended:

  • Formed in 1996, Blackwater found traction for growth in a series of tragedies starting with the Columbine massacre.
  • The idea for the first Blackwater base, in North Carolina, was sold as a hunting lodge concept.
  • Blackwater is not the largest of the security firms, just the most elite. They got that reputation in part by keeping alive the most hated man in post-war Iraq, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
  • “Contractor” casualties in Iraq–deeply secret so this is just an estimate–run to at least 770 dead and over 7,000 wounded.
  • More than 300 of the 435 registered voters of tiny Potrero, CA, are fighting a similar installation called Blackwater West near their community, which lies southeast of San Diego.