Blackwater: superbly researched indictment of America's hired killers

Jeremy Scahill's brave and outraged "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" renders the story of the Blackwater mercenary group, and other mercenary groups that have seized the economic opportunities opened by the Bush regime's willingness to offer no-bid contracts and no-liability opportunities to fight America's wars. Backwater — founded by ultra-right-wing Christian conservatives — hires Pinochet-era Chilean war-criminals, ex-law-enforcement types and former military, and others to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan — and in America. They can and do murder civilians with impunity, they line their pockets with cost-plus multi-billion-dollar military expenditures, and they kill their own men — and the American soldiers they are supposed to be helping — through corner-cutting profiteering.

Scarier still is their deployment on US soil, as with the Katrina disaster, where Blackwater took in millions for shoveling armed men and automatic weapons into the stricken city of New Orleans, where food and health care were impossible to come by but where there was no shortage of ammunition.

Scahill's book is incredibly, even mind-numbingly well-researched and documented. Framed around the gruesome, vile murder of four of Blackwater's mercs in Fallujah (Scahill shows that Blackwater sent them to their deaths by skimping on security, support, and intelligence), Scahill works from primary sources, Congressional testimony, on-the-ground reporters, and a wide variety of corroborating evidence to build the case against using hired killers to support American military objectives.