Iraq National Security Politics The Opinionsphere The War on Terrorism

Censoring the Truth About the Crusader Prince?

[digg-reddit-me]Scott Horton apparently reported on several declarations filed in Federal Court in Eastern Virginia that included explosive allegations regarding the military contractor Blackwater and its owner Erik Prince. Andrew Sullivan linked to him – but between Sullivan’s linking and my clicking on Sullivan’s link, the article was taken down. A search of The Daily Beast for Scott Horton’s article turns up nothing except a link to Jeremy Scahill of The Nation‘s recent piece on the same subject. Andrew Sullivan had excerpted this summary of the charges contained in the Declarations on his blog:

  • Both men requested anonymity to avoid mortal threats. “It appears that Mr. Prince or his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities,” said John Doe #1. John Doe #2 says he received personal threats after leaving Blackwater.
  • Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.” He “intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis.”
  • Blackwater “employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms of Iraqis and other Arabs, such as ‘ragheads’ or ‘hajis.’”
  • Blackwater deployed to Iraq individuals who (a) made “statements about wanting to… ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,’” (b) drank excessively, (c) used steroids, and (d) failed to follow safety and other instructions governing the use of lethal weapons. Mental-health professionals who raised concerns about deployment of such individuals were fired.
  • Prince obtained “illegal ammunition… designed to explode after penetrating within the human body” and smuggled it into Iraq for use.
  • Prince distributed other illegal weapons for use in Iraq.
  • Prince was aware of the use of prostitutes, “including child prostitutes,” at Blackwater’s “Man Camp” in Iraq, which he visited.

The actual declarations can be found here – John Doe 1 (pdf) – and here – John Doe 2 (pdf). These papers were part of opposition to a motion – the complete set of which can be found here. (Beware – it’s a few hundred pages of pdfs). I have emailed Scott Horton to see if he has any comment/explanation for why his article is no longer up on the Daily Beast.

Edit: The Daily Beast still has not gotten back to me. Mr. Horton replied telling me that he was looking into why his article was taken down himself.

[Image by John Rohan licensed under Creative Commons.]

Morality National Security Politics

Torture is worse than immoral: it’s tactically stupid

Former CIA operative and current thriller writer Barry Eisler as interviewed by Scott Horton:

[T]orture is also an excellent way to get the subject to confess to anything at all, which is why it was a wonderful tool for the Spanish Inquisition and for the secret police of assorted totalitarian regimes. But if the goal is to produce accurate, actionable intelligence, torture is madness, as Alexander argues in his book, How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, torture is worse than immoral: it’s tactically stupid. It produces false confessions, which can be used to confirm mistaken suspicions and even outright policy fantasies; it instills an insatiable thirst for vengeance in most people who are subjected to it, and so creates new, dedicated enemies; it permanently brutalizes its practitioners; and it cuts us off from intelligence from the local populace because so many people will refuse to inform on someone if they fear he’ll be tortured. [my emphasis]

Bush’s use of torture in the War on Terror demonstrated this amply – for example in the contrasting stories of Abu Jandal and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.

Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics The Opinionsphere

John McCain’s America

[digg-reddit-me]I’m not sure I agree with Scott Horton’s claim that Powell’s endorsement as brilliant as he thinks it was. But I certainly agree that it’s resonance and it’s place in history comes from this:

Powell made clear that he was opposing a friend of 25 years at some personal cost but for principled reasons. He believed that McCain would make a fine President but he was concerned by McCain’s uneven response to crisis, by his selection of Sarah Palin, and by the tone and tenor of his campaign–framed on an appeal to the baser instincts of the population. Indeed, if one passage of the Powell endorsement is preserved by posterity, it will be the remarkable image he presented of the young mother of a Muslim soldier killed in service to country…

As a college student in a Muslim nation allied with ours told Horton:

Okay, perhaps McCain is not an anti-Muslim bigot, but he seems to think that the best way to be elected president is to whip his fellow citizens into an anti-Muslim frenzy. Our nation is America’s ally, but I can’t avoid thinking, watching the McCain campaign—is this man going to make war on us too?

This is why Osama Bin Laden has a clear preference in this election. It’s not that McCain is a racist or a bad man – it’s that he represents – both in America and in the rest of the world – because of his campaign and who he is facing in his campaign – an intolerant America, an insular America, an America that hates Muslims and foreigners – instead of the America that fights for freedom, that is new and young and refreshing and tolerant – the America Barack Obama represents.