Meet Blackwater USA, the private army that the US government has quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. Its contacts run from military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House; it has a military base, a fleet of aircraft and 20,000 troops, but since September 2007 the firm has been hit by a series of scandals that, far from damaging the company, have led to an unprecedented period of expansion.
This revised and updated edition includes Scahill's continued investigative work into one of the outrages of our time: the privatisation of war.
According to Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, Blackwater USA, the self-described private military contractor and security firm, owes its existence to the post-Cold War drawdown of U.S. armed forces, its prosperity to the post-9/11 overextension of those forces, and its notoriety to a growing reputation as a mercenary outfit. Scahill describes Blackwater's expansion, from an early emphasis on administrative and training functions to what amounts to a combat role as an internal security force in Iraq. He cites company representatives who say Blackwater's capacities can readily be expanded to supplying brigade-sized forces for humanitarian purposes, peacekeeping, and low-level conflict. While emphasizing the possibility of an "adventurous President" employing Blackwater's mercenaries covertly, Scahill underestimates the effect of publicity on the deniability he sees as central to such scenarios.