US’s unofficial war in Pakistan will ‘create enemies,’ author says
In the wake of President Obama’s plan to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan, questions are being raised about the use of private contractors in US operations there. The acknowledgement by Eric Prince, founder of military contractor Blackwater, that he has been serving for years as a CIA asset only intensifies these concerns.
For Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestselling book Blackwater, however, the real concern is not Afghanistan but Pakistan, where according to an article in the New York Times, “the White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program.”
“We need to view this sober reality,” Scahill told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday. “The war is in Pakistan right now. There’s no question about it. The question, though, is how much it’s going to expand. … These are actions that are going to destabilize Pakistan and are going to create new enemies for the United States because of the high civilian casualties. … Here you have military operations inside a country that we don’t have a declaration of war against.”
Scahill emphasized that the most destabilizing actions come not from the CIA but from Blackwater mercenaries, whom he recently described in The Nation as working for US special forces to “plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, ‘snatch and grabs’ of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.”
The drone attacks outsourced to Blackwater are the source of the highest numbers of civilian casualties. Scahill told Maddow that one of his sources is a “very well-placed military intelligence source [who] is offended at the idea that you have these operations happening outside of the military chain of command and with no oversight from the Congress.”
“Blackwater has been operating under the cover of a training program,” Scahill explained. “Blackwater is training the Pakistani Frontier Corps, which is a federal paramilitary force that is hunting down high-value targets in the frontier province. A former Blackwater executive told me that the line is being crossed — that Blackwater guys are actually going out on these raids.”
Scahill also revealed a few interesting tidbits about Eric Prince’s decision to out himself as a CIA asset, saying, “I see this sort of as Eric Prince taking out an insurance policy for himself. … Eric Prince is in the cross-hairs now of the Congress, the federal investigators, and others … and it’s a way of trying to insulate himself from future attacks.”
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 3, 2009.
New Zealand opens gun buyback after mosque killings
New Zealand opened a gun buyback scheme Thursday aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons similar to those used in the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed in the hours after the March 15 killings that New Zealand's gun laws would be tightened and her government has expedited the change in just three months.
"The buyback and amnesty has one objective -- to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques," Police Minister Stuart Nash said.
Convicted on all seven counts: US sex cult leader Keith Raniere, attracted the rich and famous
A US jury on Wednesday convicted a "self-help" guru of racketeering, sex trafficking and other crimes for his leadership of a cult-like organization of sex slaves he branded like cattle.
Keith Raniere, 58, coerced a string of women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of a life-coaching group he founded in New York state.
Nxivm -- pronounced Nexium -- had proved a huge draw since its 2003 launch, attracting a coterie of rich and famous devotees such as the "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, and spreading into cities across the United States.
Pompeo ups pressure on Russia over four MH17 accused
Moscow must ensure that those charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 face justice, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, after international investigators accused three Russians and a Ukrainian over the disaster.
The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals.