By Jeremy Scahill
After Downing Street
Feb. 2, 2008
If there’s one thing that can be said about Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company, it is no stranger to blood — its operatives have caused a lot of it to be spilled in Iraq. Last September, Blackwater forces gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square and wounded more than 20 others. It was reportedly one of 10 such deadly incidents involving the company in Iraq since June 2005. After all the carnage and death, Blackwater is now giving back. Not in Iraq, but right here at home.
This week, the company received an award from the American Red Cross — not for its skill at making Iraqis bleed, but for Blackwater’s recent blood drive, where company employees reportedly gave 264 units of blood. “That means that well over 600 lives have been saved in this region,” said Georgia Donaldson of the Mid Atlantic region Red Cross.
The group presented Blackwater’s owner, Erik Prince with a plaque, honoring the company. “I’m proud of the folks we have here. We have a great team, they constantly go above and beyond the call of duty, they give back and they’re giving to their local community here,” said Prince. But here’s the money quote: Blackwater “saw a need for the community to receive more blood, so we made it available and our folks answered the call.” Sort of like what they do in Iraq for Bush. Oh, and this blood must be mighty special. As Prince told Congress last year, his men “bleed red, white and blue.”
This isn’t the first time Blackwater and the Red Cross teamed up. After Hurricane Katrina, where Blackwater raked in over $70 million in federal “security” contracts, the company held a Red Cross fundraiser and pulled in $138,000 — about $100,000 short of Blackwater’s estimated daily take at the height of its Katrina operations. The keynote speaker at that event? L. Paul Bremer, the original head of the US occupation.
As for the recent blood drive, maybe the Red Cross should ship some of it over to Iraq for Blackwater’s next victims.
Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
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