The mercenary firm Blackwater is clearly more teflon than Gen. Stanley McChrystal. While McChrystal sips Bud Light Lime, watching Talladega Nights and ponders what private sector job to scoop up, Erik Prince’s crusading private soldiers will still be running around Afghanistan and other theaters of undeclared US wars globally with the CIA. All with the blessing of the Commander in Chief.
While President Obama sacked McChrystal after comments attributed to him and his inner circle were published in a now infamous Rolling Stone article, Blackwater is being rewarded with new contracts despite its track record of scores of acts of misconduct, including allegations of murdering and manslaughtering civilians, weapons charges, conspiracy and obstruction of justice to name a few.
Given McChrystal’s alleged involvement in the torture of detainees at Camp Nama in Iraq, his primary role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death and other dark acts involving his time commanding the Joint Special Operations Command under the Bush-Cheney administration, McChrystal should have never been named commander in Afghanistan. When he was appointed, Obama sent a message about the kind of policy he wanted in Afghanistan–one which favored unaccountable, unattributable direct action forces accustomed to operating in secret and away from effective oversight. Indeed, in the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal appeared to admit his famous commitment to decreasing civilian deaths was a sham operation. According to Rolling Stone: "’You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight,’ McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he’ll add, ‘I’m going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though.’"
President Obama was right to fire McChrystal (technically he accepted his resignation)–it should have happened long ago. That McChrystal was fired for the Rolling Stone article, however, and not for the way he prosecuted the Afghan war speaks volumes about the administration’s Afghanistan position and policy vision (not to mention that Dick Cheney’s general, David Petraeus, was named as McChrystal’s successor).
Contrast Obama’s McChrystal treatment with his Blackwater treatment.
In January, two Blackwater operatives were indicted on murder charges stemming from a shooting in Afghanistan in May 2008. In March, Senator Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called on the Justice Department to investigate Blackwater’s use of a shell company, Paravant, to win training contracts in Afghanistan. On June 11, federal prosecutors filed a massive brief in their appeal of last year’s dismissal by a federal judge of manslaughter charges against the Blackwater operatives alleged to be the "shooters" at Nisour Square. Seventeen innocent Iraqis were killed in the shooting and more than 20 others wounded. In the brief, prosecutors asked that the indictment of the Blackwater men be reinstated. Then in April, five of Erik Prince’s top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince’s longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy and Prince’s former legal counsel Andrew Howell. Former Blackwater employees have made serious allegations in sworn declarations and in Grand Jury testimony about murder, gun smuggling, prostitution, destruction of evidence and a slew of other alleged crimes.