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SMALL TOWN STANDS UP TO BLACKWATER

Malcom Lagauche

blackwatersite4.jpg

Proposed Blackwater site in Potrero, CA



October 8, 2007

We have all heard by now about the recent atrocities performed by Blackwater, the mercenary company par excellence, in Iraq. Seventeen innocent civilians were killed in an attack by the paid killers.

The administration is "appalled" and said it will rein in Blackwater. In just a few days, the company’s prior agreement that it can not be held liable under any law has been rescinded. Pious assholes of the Bush administration are now trying to look good in the public’s eye by bashing Blackwater.

The rage that the officials speak of is phony. For the past four years, all one had to do was to go to YouTube to see many videos taken by Blackwater employees that showed them killing Iraqi civilians. All the time they were shooting, they were laughing. I find it quite bizarre that millions of U.S. citizens knew about Blackwater’s deadly actions years before the U.S. government. We all know the government knew of the atrocities but never had to do anything because there were no complaints. That has all changed. Again, I condemn mainstream journalism for not addressing the issue that the U.S. government knew of the actions yet did nothing to halt them. The media are only reporting on the recent actions by the administration, not the four-year coverup that preceded the new humanitarian enlightenment.

Blackwater has created a hornet’s nest in my own area. Just a few miles from where I live, is the town of Potrero, a rural entity with about 800 inhabitants.

Last June, Congressman Duncan Hunter and San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob met with Blackwater representatives and listened to a sales pitch in which the mercenary group would set up shop in Potrero. In October 2006, Blackwater made a proposal to the Potrero Planning Group of its plans. (A Planning Group in this area is an elected board that decides land-use issues.)

At the December meeting, those members of the public in attendance were shocked to see that the agenda held an item for the Planning Group to vote on whether to okay Blackwater’s plans. The vote passed 7-0.

When asked where the agenda was placed for the public to see, the group said that one of its members published it in his Christian newsletter. In other words, the public had no idea that the agenda included a vote on Blackwater. One of the group’s members wore a Blackwater t-shirt. Later, it was discovered that several group members had flown to North Carolina, at Blackwater’s expense, to tour the headquarters.

The people of Potrero began to unravel the illegal and shady vote on Blackwater. Five of the Planning Group members have been recalled and will have to stand in a special election slated for December 2007. Local opposition has been strong for such a small community. "Stop Blackwater" signs can be seen throughout the town.

The recent events in Iraq have given the Blackwater opponents a valuable and powerful new tool. Now, it is known nationwide that Blackwater wanted to secretly open an assassin’s school in this small town.

On October 7, 2007, several hundred Blackwater opponents showed up to a rally in Potrero. Across the street were about 15 advocates who wore Blackwater baseball caps. According to the article "Blackwater foes begin fight with their feet," written by Anne Krueger for the October 8 issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune

Wearing a bright green "Stop Blackwater" t-shirt, Rep. Bob Filner urged about 200 protestors yesterday to keep up their fight against Blackwater USA’s plans to build a military and law enforcement training center in the backcountry community of Potrero.

"We’re going to stop them," Filner, D-San Diego, told the demonstrators who gathered about a mile from the site of the proposed training camp. "Blackwater is a black mark on American democracy."

Filner has proposed a bill in Congress that would allow mercenary training only on military bases. Opponents of Blackwater say the company’s workers in Iraq are mercenaries.

Local weekly newspapers in East San Diego County are involved in the issue. The Alpine Sun has been at the forefront of exposing the once secret plan to the public. According to the paper’s publisher, Vonnie Sanchez:

We have run several articles about Blackwater wanting to set up shop in Portero. The readers have been very pleased with the coverage. Most agree that Blackwater should not come to Potrero.

A meeting in which a sneaky Planning Group tried to slide an item on the agenda by the public has turned into a political scandal. Not only the issue of Blackwater’s future in rural San Diego County is being thoroughly discussed, but the role of elected officials and ethics is on the table. Five members may pay for their deceit by being booted out of office.

When all is said and done, the Potrero Planning Group will not have the last say in the matter. A Planning Group’s decision is only a "suggestion" and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has the last word. Even if the members are recalled and a new and legitimate vote is held in which the Portrero Planning Group overturns the original vote, the County Board of Supervisors can say, "Thanks for your opinion, but we are in favor of Blackwater coming to Potrero."

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is comprised of five members: all conservative Republicans. One, Bill Horn, gained nationwide publicity a few years ago when he gave his opinion on a TV news item that showed a U.S. soldier kill an unarmed and wounded Iraqi in a house. Even though the public was aghast at such an execution, Horn said that the soldier should be awarded a medal for bravery and the cameraman should be arrested and tried as a spy.

The other four members are almost identical in their views with Horn. When asked about their assessment on Blackwater’s coming to Potrero, the Board has refused to give a statement.

Realistically, it looks like Blackwater will be given the okay to come to Potrero by the Board of Supervisors. However, if the pressure from the public grows enough, even they may have to back down and consider the Blackwater move a political liability.

We know that the Bush administration’s "outrage" about Blackwater’s actions will be short-lived. Once the heat cools down, it will be business as usual. But, the people of a small town in southern California, who must live next to a mercenary camp and hear bombs exploding and bullets being fired 24 hours a day, will not allow Blackwater to come to their community without a fierce fight.


:: Article nr. 37043 sent on 09-oct-2007 04:17 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=37043

Link: www.malcomlagauche.com/id1.html



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