The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, May 19, 2006

Blackwater is the new Halliburton

Blackwater has been coming under public scrutiny lately for overcharging the government in Iraq (Congress still hasn't expressed any interest in cracking down on profiteers) and putting their employees in danger in violation of their own contractual agreements. But just in case they are called to account in Iraq, the firm run by Republican operatives and fundamentalists will still be making obscene amounts of money in New Orleans.

Tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims remain without homes. The environment is devastated. People are disenfranchised. Financial resources, desperate residents are told, are scarce. But at least New Orleans has a Wal-Mart parking lot serving as a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center with perhaps the tightest security of any parking lot in the world. That's thanks to the more than $30 million Washington has shelled out to the Blackwater USA security firm since its men deployed after Katrina hit. Under contract with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Protective Service, Blackwater's men are ostensibly protecting federal reconstruction projects for FEMA. Documents show that the government paid Blackwater $950 a day for each of its guards in the area. Interviewed by The Nation last September, several of the company's guards stationed in New Orleans said they were being paid $350 a day. That would have left Blackwater with $600 per man, per day to cover lodging, ammo, other overhead--and profits.

You've got to admit that playing police state in New Orleans would be a lot more exciting than icky cleanup detail.