Here at The Rabbit, we mostly don’t worry over the hot story of the minute. We tend to focus on longer-term issues in the public policy debate surrounding private security contractors, and we write about them in detail that is probably more painful than a German comedy film festival. In black-and-white. With subtitles.
Don’t get us wrong,
After all, there is still the depressingly real possibility that a whole new generation will be subjected to the horror of Knight Rider: The Movie.
In any event, after last week’s gargantuan hotlink-o-rama about contractor compensation, we’re giving ourselves a break from heavyweight discussion.
Let’s take a look at the issue of the week, because watching the spin and mild hysteria over a potential Blackwater Super Tucano aircraft has really been rather amusing. It’s a microcosm of the whole PSC debate.
The story first appeared in Jane’s Defense Weekly, a venerable British defense publication to which you too can subscribe for a mere $1,190.00 plus shipping and handling.
Fortunately for the cheap, the Jane’s reporter in question is the same one who has previously helped out his wife’s blog with a little Blackwater traffic boost. So he lent a hand again, and, walla, we have the Super Tucano story in her blog at wired.com.
In relevant part it says Blackwater “plans to purchase an Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano,” that “the company is in the process of acquiring” it, and that “[t]ransfer of the aircraft to the
OK, so they want to buy one turboprop aircraft if the government will give them a license.
One more time. They would like to buy. They propose to get one. One propeller-driven aircraft. They have yet to obtain
Got it. Interesting story, in a vague, defense-groupie sort of way. And, although her post initially included some “the-end-is-at-hand” remarks, Ms. Weinberger did go back and acknowledge that “there are plenty of examples of private purchase and/or import of fighters” and that “private training on attack aircraft isn’t precedent setting either.”
End of story, right? Dream on.
The first iterations started in military fansites. For example, on the Strategy Page, the report became “Blackwater
License? We don’t need no stinkin’ license.
Five ton, five aircraft …more or less the same, eh? And that little “trainer” detail—why let that get in the way of sensationalism and scaremongering?
Not to be outdone, Wonkette screamed “Blackwater is building its own air force of ‘ground attack planes’ and just bought a fleet of ‘Super Tucano light combat aircraft …’”
Now it’s an “air force” and a whole “fleet”??
Meanwhile, flightglobal.com was working to transform the Super T into a Blackwater “light attack jet.”
OK, we can see where this is headed. Let’s just get to the money shots, huh?
Here’s a random example, although there were dozens in the same vein:
Our friends at Blackwater Security are creating their own air force. The company which provides “security solutions” by contract to the
OK, it’s one paragraph—how far off can it be?
- They have exactly zero of these aircraft, but let’s assume they do get licensed, and then they will have one, stateside. Apparently, in DramaWorld, that is an “air force.”
- Building bases in every coastal state? The source for this? Apparently his own bunghole. Dude, lay off the LSD for a week or two, huh? He does goes on to quote Jeremy Scahill mentioning the potential Blackwater
facility and the fact that the company applied for professional licensure “in every coastal state.” That’s about the same as a “base” on every block, eh? And let’s get this straight. Out of one side of your mouth it’s the ‘completely unaccountable, utter contempt for the law’ tagline, but meanwhile, out of the other side, their compliance with licensure requirements is evidence only of wicked evil scheming? California
- A “fleet of armed helicopters?” We guess if you call two “Ass Monkeys” hanging out the back with a gun, even a machine gun, an “armed helicopter” you’ve got ‘em dead to rights there. And we thought an armed helo was, say, an Apache (Hellfire missiles, several dozen 2.75” rockets, and a 30mm chain gun). Silly us.
- “Light combat prop jet?” Now he’s not even making sense. What the hel ... what the heck is a ‘prop jet’?
From there, it’s onward to martial law, “citizen unrest,” fake terror attacks, and so on. As with most of these articles, the comment thread is the best part. Climb on board the crazy train, cause the bi-Polar Express is pulling out!
Of course blogs like that in turn get picked up and quoted as gospel in others. For example, one offspring rants about “prop jets” in an “air force to put down civil unrest at home” including “armed-to-the-teeth black helicopters” (Oh no—the infamous Black Helicopters!) driven by guys with “out-of-this-world” benefits (oh really?). We here at The Rabbit encourage people to look at all the available info out there, so if you want a heady cocktail of fear, ignorance and paranoia, then by all means, drink up!
Want a side order of wacko with that? We have to at least mention “Scholars for 9/11 Truth.”
If you meet anyone whose logic and facts are so weak they need to advertise themselves as a “Scholar for” anything … it would be a good time to hang on to your wallet or put on your tinfoil hat. Or both.
So what does the founder of this august body—who we suspect proclaims “nobody can convince me” on a regular basis—have to say? The usual: new faux 9/11 event, attack on Iran, and return of the draft, seasoned with a secret plot to fake a civilian ammo shortage; all part of a “very clever, insidious plan” with the Blackwater “air force” at the ready to impose martial law.
It gets better though. This crowd has so much conspiracy on the brain that some of ‘em are convinced that—are you ready—the Kennebunkport warning about a conspiracy to fake a terrorist conspiracy is itself a conspiracy. Seriously. We couldn’t make this stuff up. An extended monologue dissecting this mess and asking whether ‘tis better to be a conspiracy theorist or paranoid lunatic is here.
If all that is not enough for you, then not only is the “Blackwater Air Force” discussed here, but the whole site is dedicated to showing that it was, who else, Blackwater that pulled off 9/11. Whooooweee!
At its most fundamental level, is this about the Super Tucano? Or is it really a question of whether a private security company should own armed aircraft?
Oh, and before you answer, we’re talking about the “good” private security company Wackenhut, prior to 9/11, prior to President Clinton (the first one) leaving office.
Because if your answer is different for an
It seems to us that before diving into vast conspiracies and hysteria, a couple minutes of research on what the heck Blackwater might use this aircraft for would be productive.
For example, you might find out that the USAF has long been sort of weak on COIN, which is an area that special operations (if not special forces) types believe is absolutely vital. Is it possible that an industry which has adapted so quickly to military needs would consider stepping into that gap? Ya think?
Of course, look around and you might find an Air Force contract requirement for provision of just such an aircraft.
In fact, looking at the stated purpose of the proposed purchase—to establish a “new training programme”—might it be possible that it is for exactly that purpose?
Let’s go to the source of the mess, the Jane’s article (quoted here), which says: “The US Air Force (USAF) 337th Aeronautical Systems Group is currently conducting market research to find potential candidates for a counter-insurgency aircraft for the Iraqi Air Force (IQAF). … Last year, the USAF launched a search for private companies that could provide basic flight training to IQAF candidate pilots.” Shazam!
Of course, it’s much more likely that it is all part of a vast, secret plot to overthrow the entire government and impose martial law with 2300 (or 23,000) “mercenaries” and two-dozen helicopters and a glorified cropduster.
A far more interesting question than any of the extended bloviating we’ve done so far—and one that apparently not a single scaremonger thought to ask is: Why does this story exist?
Where did the Jane’s guy get it? A government investigation? A Freedom-of-Information Act request on the license application? A deepthroat whistleblower? An undercover mole?
None of those.
It’s no secret—it says right in the original blog: Blackwater President Gary Jackson.
It is always interesting how those with little military experience tend to write off military folks (and former ones) as low-grade morons.
The company’s track record for success would seem to answer that question.
So given their purported reputation for obsessive secrecy, isn’t the best question to be asking: What big news about Blackwater did we all miss last week?
Now who’s the conspiracy theorist?
Postscript: A good piece on who is making the money in
“What sort of things do you remember best?”
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