How Many Moral Waivers Has Blackwater Issued?


blackwater erik prince.jpg
(Blackwater USA CEO Erik Prince)
A while back, I got interested in the fact that the Pentagon has issued more than 125,000 “moral waivers” to recruits in order to continue to meet manpower requirements. While issuing these waivers for various kinds of felonies — including theft and assault — the military under its highly righteous most senior general, Joint Chiefs Commander Pete Pace, continued to legally harrass and expel discovered homosexuals in its ranks.
This raises the questions about norms in private military contractors — like Blackwater.

I don’t know the answers but it would be interesting to know if Blackwater has issued any moral waivers to its recruits — or whether it has any moral benchmarks at all. Someone really ought to ask.
Also, does Blackwater have a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy? Or does it allow homosexuals into its private combat operations (as opposed to the gay folks at headquarters doing the planning and pushing paper)? Or does it discriminate against any homosexuals joining its ranks?
Would be interesting to know.
Former DoD official and defense policy staffer at CSIS and the Council on Foreign Relations John Hillen used to focus on the “norms gap” between society and the Department of Defense — and he’d side with the anti-gay bias of the Pentagon in general. But Blackwater USA and other private contractors raise a new question not about the gap between their outfits and American society — but about the norms gap between a Blackwater operation and the miiltary.
My New America Foundation colleague and friend Jim Pinkerton — who used to hang out with the current President when “W” was a lost puppy looking for purpose under the political direction of Lee Atwater — has written a great essay on Blackwater — with particular focus on the cockiness of the firm’s CEO, Erik Prince.
From Pinkerton’s “Blackwater Fights War the Way America Wants It“:

In a recent session convened by The American Spectator magazine, Prince made a CEO-y pitch for his company. Using modern non-bureaucratic management techniques, such as differential pay for differential skills and performance — and extra money for, say, working over the Christmas holidays — Blackwater can, he says, deliver more value for the taxpayers.
And what of those shootings in Iraq? Well, that’s off the record. Suffice it to say that Prince is fully aware of the investigators and litigators circling his company, and yet the onetime Navy SEAL, still ramrod straight in posture and deportment, has no intention of bowing down.
Indeed, Prince is sometimes startling in his independence — even to those who pay his fees. The “surge” notwithstanding, the Blackwater man sees no decrease in the number of attacks on his teams in Iraq. Yet even more startlingly, he declares that American troops “should not be on the ground for more than 90 days.” That is, after that much time, GIs are sure to wear out their welcome.
Some might say it’s good for Prince’s business for even more war-fighting to be privatized. But his suggested “term limiting” of American military occupation is an implicit criticism of the Bush administration, which hopes to see troops in Iraq for decades to come.
In fact, Americans aren’t likely to stay in Iraq too much longer; there aren’t many Muslim places where Christian soldiers are welcomed. And that’s the best argument for using contractors: If we find ourselves in murky situations around the world, it’s probably better to deploy shadowy companies, avoiding the Stars and Stripes bannered overhead.
For missions in a “long twilight struggle,” what’s a better name than Blackwater?

Did anything worthwhile come out of the nearly unnoticed war profiteering hearings earlier this year?
— Steve Clemons


6 comments on “How Many Moral Waivers Has Blackwater Issued?

  1. pauline says:

    I heard Robert Young Pelton on Demcoracy Now! as he was interviewed weeks ago on his latest book, “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror”.
    Pelton stated that Erik Prince hires both private mercenaries and PMCs (private military contractors) and while most are Americans, many are foreign ex-soldiers looking for the big money. These “blue-collar” ex-soldiers may earn $600 a day, and they generally work 24/7 in this grueling and deadly work. The Pentagon pays Prince $1500/day for these hired guns and today his company banks on government security contracts that have totalled over $1 billion since 9/11.
    Prince, Pelton said, envisions taking part in contracts all over the world with Blackwater’s own private air force. The company claims it can deploy a private regiment of several thousand anywhere within a 24-hour notice.
    After one of several meetings with Prince, Pelton said, “Prince likes to think of Blackwater’s relationship to the traditional military as something akin to FedEx’s relationship to the U.S. Post office.”
    Pelton stated the more troubling prospect is that private warriors will begin to freelance in backing political coups — sometimes unknowingly — because their mission can be disguised by contracts to protect oil fields, gold mines and other corporate property.
    What kind of monster has the world created with PMCs?


  2. .... says:

    did prince say this? the guy is a friggin born again christian leading a company slaughtering folks in iraq. makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?? >>In fact, Americans aren’t likely to stay in Iraq too much longer; there aren’t many Muslim places where Christian soldiers are welcomed.<<<


  3. Punchy says:

    Mr. Clemons, if you think gay ex-soliders would join probably the most macho-istic, tough-guy network on the planet, I’ve got real estate in Baghdad to sell ya.
    Would they allow gays? Hell no. Would one want to join? Only as a means to a sure-fire suicide.


  4. Kathleen says:

    Moral waivers., indeed.
    Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 at 11:06 am
    By Don Davis
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its truly amazing to me that “we” are employing a powerful mercenary army, that is seemingly beholding to no laws, is tasked to carry out the goals and designs of a fanatical minority faction withing the ranks of our government, is entirely funded BY OUR MONEY, and has completely perverted the very essence of the ideals this country once prided itself in; and we discuss it as if it is just another political issue, like whether or not we will fund another freeway overpass.
    This country is fucked up beyond repair. Welcome to fascist Bushworld. Take a look around today and savor it, because if unchecked, these crazy bastards are going to make sure it glows in the dark in the not too distant future.


  6. selise says:

    great. 125,000 get moral waivers so they can carry and use a gun, while 2 women who’ve been arrested for nonviolent civil disobediance can’t visit canada (via email this morning):
    On October 4, 2007, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and Retired Colonel/ diplomat Ann Wright were denied entry to Canada because they have engaged in acts of non-violent civil disobedience against the war in Iraq. The Canadian border officials said the women’s names appeared on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, and anyone convicted of a criminal offense, including a minor misdemeanor for peace and social justice, was “inadmissible.”
    for more info (and to sign the petition):


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