The New Bad News for California About Blackwater

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Letter by Jeremy Scahill for Courage Campaign citing the Orwellian disaster in store for us with Blackwater gaining access to our state.
I've got some bad news.

My friends at the Courage Campaign asked me to convey it to you personally by email, given this community's activism against Blackwater over the last year.

Last Thursday, after a federal judge cleared the way, Blackwater opened a large training facility in San Diego, just three blocks from the border that separates California and Mexico.

As you may know, I wrote a book ("Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army") chronicling how this dangerous private security corporation leveraged over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan to build an elite Praetorian Guard for the "global war on terror." Now, Blackwater is setting its sights on the so-called "war on drugs" and recently opened its own private CIA, called "Total Intelligence Solutions," marketing "CIA-type services" to Fortune 500 companies.

Blackwater is aggressively building up a parallel infrastructure to the U.S. national security apparatus as its owner, Erik Prince, promotes Blackwater as the "Federal Express" of the military industrial complex.

And now Blackwater has set up shop in California a stone's throw from the Tijuana International Airport. But this battle with Blackwater is not over. Grassroots activists in San Diego, led by relentless local groups like Citizens' Oversight Projects, Activist San Diego, and the Peace Resource Center of San Diego, are ramping up their campaign to shut down Blackwater's base of operations on the border.

This Wednesday, June 11, from 3-5 p.m., these local groups are organizing a major protest outside the Blackwater facility at 7685 Siempre Viva Road in Otay Mesa. I will be there and I hope you will as well, even if you do not live in the San Diego area. After all, Blackwater's beachhead on the border threatens everyone's security in California.

The Courage Campaign has also invited me to join you on a special statewide conference call this at 4 p.m. this Thursday, June 12. On this "Courage Campaign Conversation", you can talk with me directly about the San Diego situation, Blackwater's ominous contract renewal in Iraq, and how the outsourcing of our security to these mercenaries threatens our democracy. Please reserve a phone line now by RSVP'ing at:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/JeremyScahill

Chris Hedges, the former Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times, brilliantly captures the threat that Blackwater represents to us in this excerpt from his review of my book:

"These hired guns... appeared on the streets of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. They operate, at home and abroad, beyond the bounds of legal constraints and are controlled by secretive puppet masters, such as Erik Prince, who have close ties to the radical Christian right.

Should our nation enter a period of instability following another terrorist attack on American soil, an economic collapse, or a series of environmental disasters, the tyranny that groups such as Blackwater impose on others could become the tyranny they impose on us. The rise of this unchecked mercenary force... could presage the final stage in the collapse of American democracy."

Those are harrowing words, I know. But this is not hyperbole -- it's reality. And that's why we need to spread the word that Blackwater has just opened a base of operations inside California. If we don't act soon to push these mercenaries out of California, the nightmare scenarios described above could be realized right before our eyes.

I'll be talking more about what it will take to stop Blackwater on Thursday's "Courage Campaign Conversation" as well as during my book tour across California this week. By clicking here, you can RSVP for Thursday's 4 p.m. conference call now, submit your questions, and review a list of my appearances in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Berkeley:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/JeremyScahill

If you know any friends who would like to join us at 4 p.m. on Thursday's call -- or at any of this week's events in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Berkeley -- please forward this message to them. Space is limited on Thursday's Courage Campaign Conversation, so please hurry to RSVP before lines fill up.

Thank you for taking time to read this message and send it to your friends. I'm looking forward to talking with you on Thursday.

Jeremy Scahill

P.S. If you are interested in reading more about Blackwater, and would like to buy my book, please consider making it a two-for-one action by making a donation to my good friends at the Courage Campaign.

If you contribute at least $50 to the Courage Campaign, I'll sign a copy of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" and Courage will send it to you as soon as possible:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/JeremyScahill

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The Courage Campaign is an online organizing network empowering nearly 100,000 members to make this a new era for progressive politics in California. In 2008, the Courage Campaign will work with grassroots and netroots activists to increase California's importance in the race for the White House, hold our elected officials accountable, and defeat the November initiative that would ban marriage equality.
http://www.couragecampaign.org/JeremyScahill