Tags: Blackwater | Targeted

Insider Report: Blackwater Targeted; Bioterror; Hillary; Coulter; More

By    |   Sunday, 14 October 2007 10:56 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Conservative Blackwater Founder Targeted
2. Bioterror Research Adding to Risk
3. Stumping Hillary Attacked Over Iran Vote
4. College Cancels Desmond Tutu Visit Over Israel Remarks
5. Offer: $125,000 for 'Proof' of Man-Made Global Warming
6. We Heard: Ann Coulter, Nancy Pelosi

1. Conservative Blackwater Founder Targeted

Blackwater's major "sin" has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with U.S. politics.

Congressional Democrats have made the firm, and its founder Erik Prince, the punching bag for their anti-Bush campaign.

One reason Washington insiders say Prince and company are being targeted is his unapologetic support for the GOP and conservative causes.

Now the security contractor is under scrutiny stemming from its involvement in the Sept. 16 shootings of up to 17 Iraqis in Baghdad while escorting U.S. State Department vehicles, and "some critics are questioning whether Mr. Prince's political connections have propelled the company's sudden rise," The New York Times reports.

Prince, 38, is the son of Edgar Prince, founder of the Michigan-based Prince Corporation, an automotive parts supplier.

Edgar Prince was close to Gary Bauer, now the president of American Values, and James Dobson, founder of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family.

Erik's sister Betsy married Dick DeVos, son of the Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The elder DeVos is one of America's most respected and influential Republicans. Last year, the younger Dick DeVos ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan.

Erik served as a White House intern under President George H.W. Bush, and worked for Pat Buchanan's campaign in 1992. After college he joined the Navy Seals, but he left the Navy after his father died in 1995. His family sold the Prince Corporation for more than $1 billion the following year.

Prince's experience with the Seals led him to found Blackwater USA, with a training facility in rural North Carolina, and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Blackwater became a major security contractor in war zones.

Prince and his family have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and other conservative and religious causes, according to the Times. He reportedly gave more than $500,000 to Focus on the Family from July 2003 to July 2006.

Erik Prince is "a visionary when it comes to military technology and asymmetric warfare, but he is also a bankroller of Republican and right-wing religious causes," said Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."

But what does Prince's politics have to do with the work he and his company do on behalf of the American taxpayer? When does being a conservative Republican open a government contractor open to congressional scrutiny?

During recent congressional hearings probing Blackwater's operations in Iraq, Prince made the same point, saying he didn't think his political contributions were "germane" to the inquiry.

Robert Young Pelton, author of "Licensed to Kill — Hired Guns in the War on Terror," a book about contractors in Iraq, is one of the few journalists who has interviewed Prince extensively. Pelton described Prince's politics as more "libertarian" than conservative.

Editor's Note:

2. Bioterror Research Adding to Risk

The boom in research funding that followed the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax mailings that came soon after has had unforeseen consequences — a spike in potentially dangerous laboratory accidents.

Before 2001, much biodefense research was carried out in government laboratories employing experienced researchers. But after the anthrax attacks that infected more than 20 people, killing five of them, biodefense work was spread to hundreds of university and research labs, which have sometimes been unprepared to safely deal with infectious microbes.

"Universities aren't set up to handle these programs," Edward Hammond, U.S. director of the Sunshine Project, which monitors biological weapons research, told the Los Angeles Times.

"I think we made a serious mistake putting 400 labs, thousands of people in the U.S., in the driver's seat behind biological weapons."

Biodefense funding is largely administered by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has seen the research money it distributes soar from $187 million in 2002 to $1.6 billion in 2006.

Meanwhile, there have been 111 cases of potential loss of bioagents or human exposure since 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

No one has died due to exposure, although several have fallen seriously ill, and there have been no confirmed thefts or losses of bioagents, the Times reported.

But when the Government Accountability Office asked a dozen agencies if they kept track of all the labs handling dangerous germs or toxins, or knew the number, none said they did.

Ominously, Rutgers University microbiologist Richard Ebright noted, "It only takes one incident in which a highly transmissible agent is introduced into a human population to produce a catastrophic loss."

Hammond added: "The explosion of biodefense programs is creating dangers."

Editor's Note:

3. Stumping Hillary Attacked Over Iran Vote

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton engaged in a testy exchange of views with an audience member during a campaign stop last week in Iowa.

Several hundred people turned out in New Hampton to hear Clinton speak. When she asked for questions from the crowd, Randall Rolph from nearby Nashua took out a piece of paper and read a question about Iran.

He asked the Democratic senator to explain her vote for a resolution urging the Bush administration to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Rolph asserted that the resolution gave President Bush the authority to take military action against Iran.

Clinton disagreed, saying the measure stressed diplomacy that could lead to sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and told Rolph that her view wasn't in "what you read to me, that somebody obviously sent to you," according to the Washington Post's "The Trail" blog.

"I take exception," Rolph shot back. "This is my own research."

"Well then, let me finish," Clinton said.

Rolph insisted that no one had sent him the material to support his contention.

"Well then, I apologize," said Hillary.

Rolph again declared that the resolution gave Bush a free hand in Iran.

"I'm sorry, sir, it does not," replied Hillary, who went on to explain that the measure she voted for was an amended version of an earlier resolution containing "what was considered very bellicose and very threatening language."

After the event, Rolph told reporters that Clinton had tried to "accuse me of using someone else's words and being stupid. And that offended me. I felt the need to defend myself in view of that kind of comment."

He also said he had come to New Hampton with an open mind, but after the exchange he had ruled out voting for Clinton.

Editor's Note:

4. College Cancels Desmond Tutu Visit Over Israel Remarks

A University in Minnesota has canceled a scheduled appearance by civil rights activist and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu over concerns that the visit might offend Jews.

The University of St. Thomas, a Catholic school in St. Paul, arranged the Spring 2008 appearance by the Anglican archbishop through its Justice and Peace Studies program.

"But in a move that still has faculty members shaking their heads in disbelief, St. Thomas administrators — concerned that Tutu's appearance might offend local Jews — told organizers that a visit from the archbishop was out of the question," according to City Pages in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Doug Hennes, the school's vice president for university and government relations, said: "We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy.

"We're not saying he's anti-Semitic. But he's compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community."

In a 2002 speech in Boston titled "Occupation Is Oppression," Tutu criticized the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories, and made a reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the U.S.

Afterwards, the Zionist Organization of America accused Tutu of anti-Semitism.

Following the university's decision, a professor, Cris Toffolo, then chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program, sent a letter to Tutu informing him of the cancellation and warning that the archbishop might be in for a smear campaign, City Pages reported.

Two months later, Toffolo was demoted.

Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts combating apartheid in his native South Africa.

While he has been critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, he has spoken of the significant role Jews played in the anti-apartheid struggle, voiced support for Israel's security concerns, and spoken against suicide bombings.

The irony of the situation was not lost on Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor in the Justice and Peace Studies program and a Jew.

"If Columbia permits a Holocaust denier [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] to speak at their university, why are St. Thomas officials refusing to let Tutu, an apostle of nonviolence, speak at ours?"

Editor's Note:

5. Offer: $125,000 for 'Proof' of Man-Made Global Warming

The Web site JunkScience.com has raised its "prize" offering from $100,000 to $125,000 for anyone who can actually supply proof that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming.

In presenting its Ultimate Global Warming Challenge, the Web site states: "If you think it's a no-brainer that humans are causing catastrophic global warming, here's your opportunity to earn an easy $125,000."

The challenge: "$125,000 will be awarded to the first person to prove, in a scientific manner, that humans are causing harmful global warming."

The winning entry, the site notes, will reject this "hypothesis":

"Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases do not discernibly, significantly and predictably cause increases in global surface and tropospheric temperatures along with associated stratospheric cooling."

Entrants are told to limit their entries to 700 words — and include a $15 entry fee.

The Web site defines Junk Science" as "faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special and, often, hidden agendas."

As of this writing, the "prize" had gone unclaimed by anyone — including Al Gore — for more than 60 days.

6. We Heard . . .

THAT conservative pundit and author Ann Coulter turned heads when she showed up at a gala in Manhattan with lifelong Democrat Andrew Stein, former president of the New York City Council.

Not long after, they were spied out and about in Soho "in passionate liplock," a witness told the New York Post's "Page Six" column.

Stein, who was also a state assemblyman, is the son of multimillionaire Jerry Finkelstein, publisher of the New York Law Journal and other publications.

Coulter's latest book is "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans."

Stein told the Post: "What can I say? Opposites attract."

THAT while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed that a Democratic-controlled House would be a hard-working body putting in five-day weeks, the schedule of this congressional session is "farcical," according to a House staffer.

"We sometimes have days with just one hour of votes from 3 to 4 p.m. on renaming post offices before calling it a day," the staffer told Newsmax.

"No votes are scheduled on Fridays this month. And Pelosi hopes to close the House down for the year on Nov. 16.

"Pelosi made a big deal of saying she would make the House work five-day weeks. You can see how long that lasted."

Editor's Note:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Conservative Blackwater Founder Targeted2. Bioterror Research Adding to Risk3. Stumping Hillary Attacked Over Iran Vote4. College Cancels Desmond Tutu Visit Over Israel Remarks5. Offer: $125,000 for 'Proof' of Man-Made Global...
Sunday, 14 October 2007 10:56 PM
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