Beginning on a swampy 5,000 acre plot of land near Moyock, North Carolina, Blackwater has in the last ten years expanded their headquarters to 7,000 acres, making it the world's largest private military base.And now, Blackwater is trying to move into California:
All of which gets us to California, the other destination on Blackwater’s westward expansion radar. The company has apparently been running roughshod over the political process of establishing a 824 acre training facility in a little rural community East of San Diego. This is being documented now by multiple media sources. One writer from the Daily Kos describes the secluded and obviously vulnerable Potrero, California by saying, “It's not exactly an urban metropolis, the population is only 978, and about a quarter of those people live below the poverty level.” Despite its pastoral surrounding landscape, “it could be anywhere in America really.”When will we demand and get accountability from this corporation?
Using politicians on the inside to hasten a quick turnaround on an environmental review, Blackwater is pulling its usual shadowy tricks and has for the most part completely circumnavigated any real due public process. If you read the Daily Kos article, it quotes Don Bauder from the San Diego Reader (who has been watching this deal intently), he reports how the people of the county there are vehemently opposed to the facility, and that Blackwater got the County’s approval pretty much behind the scenes without any public meetings or additional hearings.
Update: More on Blackwater:
So what will happen with Blackwater's expansive vision? Much may come down to politics. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) recently singled out Blackwater in an oversight hearing on Iraq contracting practices. During that hearing -- which featured testimony from families of Fallujah ambush victims -- a company attorney confirmed that one of its contract employees had shot and killed an Iraqi security guard in the protected International Zone. The company whisked the contractor out of the country; no charges against the shooter have been made public.The killing could make an interesting test case for new laws governing contractors on the battlefield.
The legal environment is shifting rapidly for companies like Blackwater, and a recent change in law – quietly inserted into a defense authorization bill by Sen. Lindsey Graham ( R-S.C.) – would place contractors operating in places like Iraq under military jurisdiction. It may also help close the legal loophole that allowed contractors, previously exempt from Iraqi law, to escape prosecution for wrongdoing.