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Web Letter

I'm a little confused by the statement from military law expert Scott Horton, in which he says "the presumption in US law is that, with fairly rare exceptions, crimes are committed by natural persons, not by legal entities like corporations."

While this may be true, why did corporations, some years back, push for being able to be classified as persons, in order to be able to file lawsuits against people who "slander" them, as the US beef industry did when Oprah Winfrey said, during a TV show about mad cow disease, that she wouldn't eat another hamburger again? It seems corporations want to have things both ways--to have the "right" to file lawsuits, as a supposedly libeled "person," against real people, but to also have the "right" not to have lawsuits filed against corporations, because only their individual owners and employees can be prosecuted?

Besides, I've seen plenty of court case filings in which a company itself was held accountable, particularly in patent infringement cases, where if the company was found to have broken the law, the company's coffers were the source of the fines the company paid, not those of the individual owners, since it was presumed that those company coffers were owned in turn by the company's owners.

John Sawyer

Rocklin, CA

Aug 20 2009 - 3:38am

Web Letter

In my ongoing effort to persuade Mr. Scahill to include the context of the "war on terror" in his articles, I offer this quote from economist John Mauldin: "Often, the major product is the result of its minor pieces. If you use good meat, good buns, and good vegetables- you're going to turn out a pretty good hamburger. The same goes for cars, businesses and portfolios. One industry in which this methodology really doesn't seem to work is information. Mainstream sources of information almost always fail to connect the world's events."

Mr. Scahill does an excellent job of informing us about Blackwater atrocities in Iraq, Dick Cheney's CIA assasination program, Obama's drone attacks in Pakistan, Chevron in Ecuador and torture at "Gitmo"... but--like the mainstream media, in Mauldin's view--he doesn't show "how these incidents fit together in the geopolitical landscape, nor what they mean for the relationships between global powers. He gives you the meat, the buns and the vegetables, but there's no hamburger."

Unitl he is willing to acknowledge that the issues he reports on are all just small jigsaw puzzle pieces in the larger "war on terror" picture he will continue to miss the crux of these issues.

Why won't Mr. Scahill take this final and crucial step? I have searched his blog and I can't find one example where he makes this connection. The closest he comes is a quote (that you appropriately take out of context for sarcastic effect) from Dick Cheney: "The reason there’s been problems in the world is because of U.S. activity, U.S. conduct. We’re the bad guys. We’re the ones that lead people to become terrorists. We’re the ones that generate the kind of criticism that has given Al Qaeda an excuse to come attack the United States." Does Mr. Scahill believe that this statement represents truth or exaggeration? Will he acknowledge that the context of the issues he writes about is even more important than the issues themselves?

Without context, he is only leading the proverbial blind man in his effort to try and define the elephant. This methodology misses the true story and, I submit, ultimately does more harm than good.

David Gondek

Fox Lake, WI

Aug 10 2009 - 11:05pm

Web Letter

How long before we learn that Blackwater uses their aviation company and seemingly unfettered access to both the US and assorted war zones to smuggle drugs?

Blackwater should be starved of US government funding. Let the Saudis keep them afloat.

Mike Stensrud

Portland, OR

Aug 8 2009 - 9:07pm

Web Letter

Obama continues the Bush fascist policies, continues kidnapping innocent civilians and transporting them to secret prisons for torture. After sworn testimony by former employees of Blackwater originally hired by Bush and Cheney for war crimes, and murder of Middle Eastern civilians. Now Obama continues with the same crimes. Obama has been secretly meeting with the Bush Nazi fascist family, of who are all war criminals, thereby making Obama a war criminal, and working for the Republican Party against the Democrats.

Obama has two faces, and is a habitual liar. We cannot trust such a two-faced liar who turns his back on the very people who put him in office.

In 2010, Democrats will not be in power!

Paolo Welsch

Dublin , Ireland

Aug 8 2009 - 10:41am

Web Letter

I do not doubt Scahill's expertise on the company Xe, formerly Blackwater buthe has stated two errors as facts. The first of these errors is the mention of "illegal, expolding ammunition." This claim by Le Mans Ltd. is a marketing gimmick that has been "debunked" by several websites that deal with ammunition testing. I have read the Internet story cited as the source for this reporting and there are far too few details of this incident to consider this claim factual.

Second, Scahill states that "only law enforcement or the military can own an AK-47." That statement is false. I can go to any gun store and purchase an AK-47 right now. There may well be states or local municipalities that have banned the weapon but the US government has not. There are, however, restrictions placed on the weapon. Those restrictions include that the weapon must contain a certain number of US manufactured parts. This information can be obtained from the BATF website. In closing, please call Keith Olbermann and inform him of your errors. His show has been unbearable to watch, as he continues to state your errors as fact. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.

Donovan Rivers

Detroit, MI

Aug 7 2009 - 9:33pm

Web Letter

I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. Scahill on his outstanding journalism. As an Arab-American, I have read stories from non-American journalists about Blackwater and their actions in Iraq, from the outset of the war, but very little has been written by American journalists, certainly not to the extent that Mr. Scahill has. I am glad to see that Mr. Scahill had the courage to speak up and report about this criminal activity.

It is shocking to me that something like this was allowed to go on, and our government supported this and apparently continues to do so.

One can definitely conclude that Blackwater not only was murderous but also contributed to the escalation of this war, and endangered our troops in Iraq.

Not only does Mr. Prince need to be held responsible but those in the previous administration who winked and blinked their eyes at this need to be punished as well.

Thanks to The Nation, as always, for their courage to be honest and report the truth, and allowing their readers to add their input as well.

Tina Issa

Chicago, IL

Aug 7 2009 - 4:12pm

Web Letter

While I always opposed the Iraq War, I was, from a military viewpoint, shocked to see civilians running around a battlefield getting themselves killed. Military operations require discipline and a high degree of organization. Commanders need to control their logistics, as well as the troops doing the fighting. Support elements are important because, they make sure the point of the spear has the proper equipment and supplies to do their job.

I have always opposed the privatization of government, but I never thought anyone would be dumb enough to privatize the military or the police. There is no command and control in private enterprise 0r the discipline demanded by military operations. It is no surprise that these abuses occurred. It was like turning a mob, with guns, loose on Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you want a larger army, go with the draft or don't bother to go to war. These private contractors are what drove the cost of these wars through the roof.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Aug 7 2009 - 3:47pm