Monday, August 06, 2007

AMBASSADOR MERC: Mitt Romney's security advisor, Blackwater exec, maker of unfulfilled boasts

Investment advice from Blackwater mercenary and Romney confidant: Iraq war refugees create business opportunity.

Cofer Black, vice chairman of army-for-hire contractor, Blackwater USA, is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's national security advisor. It raises the remote possibility that a mercenary, a believer in outsourced war, could wind up as a cabinet member in charge of national security affairs.

While Black has generally been fawned over in the mainstream media for his role as counterror group leader at the CIA, and later as something called an Ambassador-at-Large in the same for the State Department, his record of accomplishment in the public domain is thin.

If Black was an ambassador-at-large, a suitable description is perhaps -- ambassador-at-large for counter-terror operations, botchings and ill-treatment. This was before Black left civil service to fight the war on terror through the unpopular but ubiquitous company of security profiteers, Blackwater.

In his speaker's bureau profile, Black is described as "a defender of human rights, democracy and a prominent hero in the war ... "

One doesn't usually think of "defender of human rights" as inhabiting the same space as a pusher of privatization in the so-called global struggle against terrorism.

However, if George W. Bush can still consider himself a defender of the free world and spreader of democracy in the privacy of his own home, then Black's vainglorious view of himself seems small change.

Last week, on CNBC's Kudlow & Company, host Larry Kudlow bowed and scraped before Black who was on hand to recommend investment in Jordan.

Identified as "Ambassador Black" throughout, one could have come away with the impression Black was the American ambassador to Jordan, instead of a Bush administration war-on-terror man turned mercenary.

Black was bullish on Jordan while pimping his company, Total Intelligence Solutions, another proxy of Blackwater USA, made to provide a mini-CIA to the private sector and government partners.

"[Jordan] is in a region where their are numerous commodities that are being produced and doing well," opined Black. And when Black said "commodities" he apparently meant refugees from the humanitarian disaster that is the Iraq war.

"I mean, look at the -- we get something like 6 -- 700,000 Iraqis that have moved from Iraq into Jordan that require cement, furniture, housing and the like," continued "Ambassador Black."

"So it is a -- it is an island of growth and potential, certainly in that immediate area. So it looks good."

You see, refugees from a horrible war are an investment opportunity.

Even the obsequious Kudlow seemed slightly taken aback, not 110 percent willing to quickly kiss that ring.

Kudlow: "If the Iraq story doesn't turn out well, if we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, how does that impact Jordan? How does that impact the region?"

"Ambassador Black:" Well, it impacts, obviously, a lot and significantly, but I will tell you ... there is the prime directive: Life goes on, people and societies adjust. And there is, certainly in terms of investors, significant room for growth..."

"There are opportunities for investment. It is not all bad. Sometimes Americans need to watch a little less TV, certainly this program, of course. But there is -- there is opportunity in everything. That's why you need situation awareness, and that's one of the things that our company does, it provides the kinds of intelligence and insight to provide situational awareness so you can make the best investments."

If you don't start laughing now at the prospect of Cofer Black advising a presidential candidate, informing Mitt Romney's thinking on national affairs and how to improve America's standing in the world, you'll have to cry.

Kudlow ended the interview with an attempt to let Black make over his record on getting Osama bin Laden, not informing viewers he was now one of the heads of a firm fundamentally associated with war profiteering.

Kudlow: "Why is it that it just seems so impossible, in a sense so many of us have given up about ever nailing Osama bin Laden? What is your quick take on it?"

"Ambassador Black:" "Well, yeah, quick take is not ever. First of all, when we had the opportunity, we declined. As an Americans [sic], very often we like to make things as hard as possible. And with that comes the vagaries of probability of success and the losses you wish to incur. We're Americans. We have a lot of good partners, we're aggressiveness, stick with it. He will be caught..."

In Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11," Black is a colorful player, peppered through the narrative as an inspiration to blood-and-thunder action. Published in the spring of 2006, time has not been kind to Suskind's book or the Black brags included in it.

Al Qaeda would "have flies walking across their eyeballs," said Black, near its beginning.

Black, it was said, furnished "motivational meetings" to George W. Bush, speaking of "finding [al Qaeda men] and putting 'their heads on sticks' -- that soon caught on around the government, mustering aggression."

"The mission is straightforward," said Black. "We locate the enemy wherever they are across the planet. We find them and we kill them."

The next snippet from Suskind puts Black, fiddling with papers at a desk, providing words to know him, words more prescient than motivational speeches to George W. Bush and puffed-up, empty talk about getting Osama bin Laden.

Update: A couple months ago, in review of Ted Koppel's pitiless special, Our Children's Children's War, Black was called upon to opine on the state of the military in the war on terror.

"Our military is quite stretched," he said. Of course, speaking from the viewpoint of a a Blackwater USA employee, it came off as annoyingly self-serving. While Blackwater and its subsidiary firms may be wildly successful business, the name is now inextricably linked worldwide with the Iraq disaster, conflicts of interest and the profiteering off it.

However, the quote was in line with a philosophy, an aim, that had been published concerning him in an April 2006 issue of Army Times.

"[Cofer Black] astonished special operations forces representatives gathered here from around the world with a proposal to use his company as an army for hire for the world's secondary battles," reported that publication.

" 'It's an intriguing, good idea from a practical standpoint because we're low-cost and fast...The issue is, who's going to let us play on their team?'"

To read Black's words in the Army Times was to experience some hilarity at the faux nobility of the claims.

"Blackwater spends a lot of time thinking, 'How can we contribute to the common good?'" Black said.

"I just got tired of watching people not really do anything. It's heartbreaking." This, in reference to a wish to send a privatized brigade to the Sudan.

At the time, DD wrote, so it was [or is] that Cofer Black would seem to be just the person to go to find recommendations on the business value of a hundred years war.

Black also runs another company, the Black Group, which is also part of the Blackwater USA business empire created by security services financier Erik Prince.

As one of its corporate protection services, Black's Black Group puffs bioterror-sniffing dogs.

"Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) threats present greater danger than ever before," it reads. "A simple powder sent in a package or envelope can have devastating effects. The financial loss from shutting down a corporation just for a day, even before the environmental and human toll is considered, can reach the millions of dollars. Now, canines specially trained to detect chemical and biological agents, paired with canine radiological technology, provide a key capability in shielding global corporations and their assets."

" ... canines have been trained to detect scents indicative of specific chemical and biological agents, including nerve and blister agents, Botulinum Toxin, Anthrax, and Ricin."

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow knows of no instances in which ricin-sniffing dogs have been employed in any actual case involving castor beans. And I can see with some surety that there is as close to zero a probability as possible that they will ever be used in sniffing for botox in a biological attack against a corporation. Practically speaking, there is no use for them, since any substance presumed to be remnants of a biological or chemical weapon has to be assayed by a laboratory.

Since animals are susceptible to anthrax, it would also seem counterintuitive (as well as aggravating to organizations like PETA) to put dogs in a position to sniff anthrax spores.

Louis Pasteur invented an anthrax vaccine for livestock and while one exists for veterinary use its application is intended for use in an environment where anthrax is endemic, not as a concentrated spore powder.

"If there is any career pursuit that we, as Americans, have come to despise, it is that of the military mercenary," wrote Lionel Van Deerlin in the San Diego Tribune in April of this year. Van Deerline represented a San Diego County district in Congress for 18 years.

"Often glamorized as 'soldiers of fortune,' mercenary forces will enlist in a cause not out of patriotism but after asking, 'What's in it for me?'"

Van Deerlin was writing in an opinion piece to oppose the development of a Blackwater USA training facility in "rural Portero," a part of San Diego county.

"Involvement in quasi-military missions has emboldened [Blackwater] to take the next step. Blackwater's original services were limited to training policemen or providing security guards for non-government clients. Now it announces itself ready to help keep or restore peace anywhere in the world.

"That was the message its vice chairman, Cofer Black, delivered in February to a Special Operations Forces Exhibition in Amman, Jordan. 'We are not simply a private security company,' Black asserted. 'We are a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm which provides turnkey solutions.'

"Turnkey solutions? In today's world, this widely reported boast can mean only that Blackwater now sees itself as the ultimate mercenary, hoping to take its brand of militarism wherever the money leads."

On Koppel's Our Children's Children's War.


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