Blackwater Gets The Shaft

There are a lot of bad people out there, my…

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There are a lot of bad people out there, my friends. Evil people, who want to blow up school buses, kidnap innocents and fly airliners into skyscrapers: 24-7 the world’s law enforcers are trying to uncover the identities of these evil people.

But luckily for us, the people who make Hollywood movies and television have figured it out. Turns out the real bad people in the world are…private military contractors!

That’s right! Hollywood has joined the New York Times and the U.S. Congress and jumped on the latest bandwagon (like they did with “assault weapons” and “Right-wing extremists”) to demonize a new phenomenon they don’t understand.

Remember in the early 1970s when the deranged Vietnam veteran was the “go to” bad guy in movies and on TV? The reason for that happening is due to straight ignorance. Few Hollywood screenwriters knew any former soldiers, (with the exception of a few men like John Apocalypse Now Milius) and so it was easy to think that all returning vets were disassociated powder kegs. That’s why the latest round of products headed for your multi-plex and government-mandated HD TV feature a new generation of Evil Doers. That’s right, those dastardly private military contractors with names that sound something like Blackwater. Early on in the Global War On Terror, Congress and many major studio execs already didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to Iraq for Love of Country—but this? Going to Iraq for Money? That had to indicate some dark, secret agenda.

rambo-boat-operators.gifThe Dark Past Vs. Today
When I was watching TV and movies back in 1970s, soldiers for hire, or “mercenaries” were the heroes of films like the amazing Richard Burton/Richard Harris/Roger Moore African classic The Wild Geese, Clark Gable in Soldier of Fortune and Sam Peckinpah’s great The Killer Elite. Burt Lancaster even leads a team of hired adventurers to rescue a Rancher’s wife in the western The Professionals. These professional soldiers were always tough, capable heroes who brought back the skills they learned on the battlefield.

The irony is that private security contractors like Blackwater aren’t actual mercenaries—they are not soldiers and do not deploy on combat missions. They operate within the terms of their company’s guidelines, which in turn are specified in that company’s contract with the government. But an ill-advised round of Congressional Hearings looking for something else bad to pin on the Bush Administration’s handing of the Iraq War led to a firestorm of hysterical newspaper editorials and hastily written “exposé” books creating a new Boogeyman out of the mere words “Blackwater.”

TV’s refined ’80s problem-solver known as The Equalizer played by Edward Woodward was a retired mercenary. The most beloved A-Team led by George Peppard and Mister T risked their lives to help people who had no other place to turn for help. But in today’s TVs retread of the old TV series Knight Rider, the show’s bad guys are private contractors from a group called “Blackriver.” Private contractors have faced the fearsome lawyers of NBC’s Law & Order and William Shatner’s Boston Legal on ABC.

On CBS’ hit TV show The Unit, my buddy Scott Foley finds his counter-terrorist team confronted by the Evil Contractors of “Blackthorn.” David Caruso and his intrepid team of forensics investigators in CSI: Miami recently tracked down a former “Blackstorm” contractor who stole a KRISS V submachinegun and went on a killing spree. Blackriver. Blackthorn. Blackstorm. Time To Get Real.

Blackwater—the real Blackwater—designs weapons and trains people to use them. They are not hired killers. Even though almost all Blackwater operatives are retired police and military personnel, Hollywood has decided that these guys are somehow evil traitors—amateur mercenaries, untrained bar room buddies who picked up their AR-15s and decided to make money doing the dirty work for the stock company of Hollywood bad guys—evil corporations and corrupt Government Black-Bag squads.

Mark Wahlberg’s retired marksmen Bobby Lee Swagger is framed for an assassination in last year’s movie thriller Shooter, when he finds himself on the wrong end of private contractor’s guns. Comic actor John Cusack found himself playing a private contractor twice—in the romantic comedy Grosse Pointe Blank and in a Baghdad Green zone populated by “war profiteers” in the Black comedy War, Inc.

The private security contractors in the movie Rambo actually faired better than most. At first portrayed as callous mercenaries who don’t care about their assignment, when they see the atrocities of the Burmese soldiers, they quickly follow Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo to prove they can “Die for something.” By the end of the film I was actually rooting for the obnoxious ex-SAS hard-ass played by Graham McTavish and the heroic super sniping of Barrett-.50-toting “School Boy.” Both brought the suburban theater audience to its feet. Sadly, Rambo was a rarity. Expect to see evil, sub-gun-hauling Blackwater clones facing our movie and TV heroes for the next few years. They’re safe targets, without even researching enough to understand that private contractors are employed at the behest of the U.S. State Department—that they provide security and armed escort services, not combat. They train police in those nations in criminal justice practices. They burn drug fields and train emergency responders. They protect U.S. businessmen on foreign soil. They were waist deep in the muck of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina while local agencies and FEMA were trying to get their heads out of their asses. The services that private contractors provide allow the military to do the work of the military.

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  • SECURITY OFFICER

    I’M SORRY BUT IF I HERE FOLLOW RULE OF LAW AS AN EXCUSE ONE MORE TIME FOR HOW THOSE ENGAGED IN A WAR ZONE ARE TO ACT I THINK I’LL PUKE. WAR DOESN’T FOLOW LAW OR IT WOULDN’T BE WAR IT WOULD BE DIPLOMACY. NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU TRY AND REGULATE IT SYNERGY ONE GROUP IS OUT TO KILL ANOTHER THERE IS ONLY ONE RULE SURVIVE! THERE ARE ROTTEN APPLES IN BOTH THE MILITARY AND SECURITY GROUPS. BUT TO PAINT THE GUY WHO GETS BETTER PAY TO DO THE SAME OR SOMETIMES EVEN HARD OF A JOB AS LESS PATRIOTIC IS JUST WRONG. THEY ALL RISK THERE LIVES PROTECTING SOLDIERS AND AMERICANS . THE POLITICS BE DAMNED. THE POLTICIANS ARE THE ONES MAKEING THE REAL MONEY. THE SOLDIERS PRIVATE AND NATIONAL. ARE ALL RISKING THERE LIVES EQUALLY SOME JUST GET PAID A BIT BETTER FOR RISKING THERE LIVES. BUT ONE SHOULD NEVER CALL THEM UNPATRIOTIC ESPESILLAY WILE SLEEPING UNDER THE VERY BANNER OF FREEDOM THEY ARE DEFENDING.

  • P. J. Roper

    @Jeff McClod. Blackthorne was the contracting company on “The Unit”. In “Jericho” the company was called Ravenwood. Looks like the author did do his homework; follow his lead next time.

  • I have been working as a contractor in Afghanistan for 6 years (KBR) this last year has been with the Army Corp of Engineers. What I have learned is that we do need blackwater types to do the things our military is bound by the ROE, all of us here in Afghanistan, military included, have the upmost respect for these men. The comments that I have read so far are made from ignorance of not knowing the true nature of Afghanistan or any theater of war. GOD BLESS AMERICA and those who know.

  • I.Donovan

    Blackwater is not portrayed as evil because they happen to be a private security contractor.
    They are portrayed as evil because of their actions.How else would you categorize people who enjoy killing for cold hard cash or for fun. If this wasn’t so, they would serve in uniform.I don’t buy the crap that they are pro-America.They are pro-dollar.
    I’m sure most people reading this can’t believe Blackwater would kill a bunch of unarmed Iraqi civilians for fun.Then there are those who consider all Iraqis as Vermin; and ironically they tend to be the same folks who go on and on about their religion and how patriotic they are.
    Try this on for size you morons: how about an incident where Blackwater actually drew their weapons on US Soldiers inside the Green Zone. Look it up.Disgusted yet?

  • Jeff McClod

    On CBS’ hit TV show The Unit, my buddy Scott Foley finds his counter-terrorist team confronted by the Evil Contractors of “Blackthorn.” Talk about not doing your homework before you write your article. “The Evil Contractors of “Blackthorn”, are from CBS defunked TV show titled Jericho. And as you stated your “buddy” Scott Foley is on The Unit. I read the magazine because I find it very educational. Well I did until a major error that shows a lack of editing.

    Do not get me wrong I am a fan of “The Unit”.

    And as far as Felcher’s comments about PMC’s well I have read and spoken to a few people that have worked as a PMC and I have respect for them. For what ever reason you believe they are doing the job DOES not matter. All that truly matters is they are doing a job that needs to be done.

  • Felcher Mcgruda

    blackwater should be demonised you pratt. blackwater/haliburton could give a fuck about America…they’re just after the dollar, and hey if they get to screw a few americans all the better.

    as for private contractors….mercenaries…same gung ho wankers that have always existed. do they follow the rule of law….NO…you only have to look at how many have been charged….

    get off ur fat arse and stop lubricating the pucker u morons.

  • Hollywood will always smear and demonize ANYONE who is pro america. Look at all the 70’s vietnam movies. They all demonized the war and it’s soilders. Neo marxist at it’s finest. Hey, Sen. McCarthy was right about hollywood.