Blackwater Seeps Into Illinois

Silently among the rolling hills 10 miles from the beautiful Mississippi Palisades, down a country road like fog from the river moving through trees comes a dark presence to disturb the countryside with gun shots. It is not hunters looking for deer this time. It is not children with air rifles shooting pellets at tin cans on fence posts. This time the shots will be from the latest and most sophisticated weapons in the hands of those who are being trained in the art of killing. They are learning the skills required to survive in the quagmire of violence they will soon enter.

The gunshots that will fill the fresh country air of Carroll county this spring will be men and women, most of them former military personal, training to be the new corporate warriors. Seeping in among the trees and fields surrounding Mt. Carroll, the “community that cares,” is a different kind of flood, it is thicker than water, it is the presence of Blackwater, one of the fastest growing of the private military companies that are becoming a critical part of 21st century warfare. Bear paw logos in this area that has no real bears anymore, will now be appearing everywhere.
In a decade the company has grown from an idea to multimillion-dollar operation. On any given day Blackwater has as many as 3,000 security contractors working in hot spots around the globe. In March of 2006 Fast Company business magazine, under the heading Private Army, named Blackwater President Gary Jackson No. 11 in its annual Fast 50 list of leaders who are writing the history of the next 10 years. The magazine made note of the company’s estimated 600 percent revenue growth between 2002 and 2005.
Though they are not the largest in the field of hired mercenaries they have the biggest profile. Blackwater has become one of the most profitable security contractors operating in Iraq. Backed by mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder and owner Erik Prince.

In October Jackson said, “This is a billion dollar industry and Blackwater has only scratched the surface. of it.”

Jackson also a former Navy SEAL, like founder Prince, is fond of saying there are two kinds of people in the world, “talkers and doers.”

“That’s what stands special operations out in the U.S. military,” he said. “Those guys (Navy SEALS) are doing stuff every single day. And that’s where we come from. We are about doing.”

Prince said that as his SEAL career took him to Haiti, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, he realized “the men were not getting the cutting-edge training they needed to ensure success.” Sop he and a former Navy SEAL instructor with a million dollars of Prince’s money started the Blackwater venture.
Now they are going to expand into rural Illinois 150 miles west of Chicago outside the small rural town of Mt. Carroll Illinois. The site is presently a training compound for police agencies around Illinois. It is located on Skunk Hallow road. It consists of about 80 acres with various shooting ranges and a large three story tower. Training will begin there in March. A spokesman for Blackwater said that he hopes the community of Mt. Carroll will welcome them and see this as a great opportunity for them.
When Clark and Prince chose the property for their first site in North Carolina all of the water was black and that is how they chose their name. A rather prophetic choice given the toxic nature of their work. See the May 8th issue of The Nation and an article by Jeremy Scahill.
Hopefully the citizens of Mt. Carroll will stand up to this invading private army.
Another interesting irony is that Dennis Hastert has just purchased over 300 acres of rural land in southwest Wisconsin with his profits from his shady Prairie Parkway land deal. His newly purchased land is only about an hour away from this training site—watch this for further developments.
Watch out for the bear claw!

15 thoughts on “Blackwater Seeps Into Illinois”

  1. No problem. Wish I could find the article I read last spring about the complaints from U.S. forces in the field in Iraq. The Blackwater people apparently answer to no one, get in the way, & in making enemies right & left create more dangers for the regular army. It’s mind-boggling–I’ll keep looking for it.

  2. Ever try, “Harms Way”, in it that is? I don’t know where you slip knocks get your info, but it is flawed at best. A Merc is a professional military man who works for a foriegn government and I know for a fact these highly trained men , who the tax payer financed when they were on active duty are working for the USA. Get it right or get out, you never want to be confused by the facts and the truth seems to have no bearing with your kind. Give harms way a try, I’m sure you will not only not be able to handle it, but you will become very enlightened.

  3. I’m also finishing his book entitled, “Blackwater: The Rise of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He does a very good job of presenting Blackwater in the wider context of the neo-con and right wing religious agenda. A solid read worth delving into.

    We are also working on having him speak in the area on this topic.

  4. Here’s what I don’t understand: Emil Jones and his fellow Daley state reps are pushing to make Illinois totally anti-gun. The passage of SB-16 will end up criminalizing thousands upon thousands of law abiding citizens who happen to enjoy shooting sports, shooting competitions and hunting. We abide by the laws, yet we will become criminals if the bill passes. Mr. Obama and Mr. Durkin also advocate anti-gun legislation and although I’m a Democrat I don’t think I can vote for either of them again.

    What really galls me is that they were blind to Illinois being invaded by Blackwater. How must our troops, who earn on average 30 – 40K, feel when the guy next to them makes $127K? That’s the pay for a Blackwater mercenary. And why should a kid who wants a career in the military stick around and work for his country when he can screw his country out of an additional 80K+ per year? So far, this company that the elected officials of this state allowed into Illinois, has bilked the tax payers out of $750 million. And the Democratic Party of Illinois wants to make me a criminal?

  5. Hello Yinn,

    Sorry, but you’re incorrect here. The .22 rifle that I bought for my grandkids to learn on will be rendered illegal. Hunting and sporting shotguns will be rendered illegal: a 12 guage is larger than .50 caliber and virtually all semi-auto shotguns can hold too many 1.5″ shells (virtually impossible to get, but irrelevant) to be “legal. My WWII M-1 rifle, purchased legally from the Citizenship Marksmanship Program (government sponsored), will be illegal. Many folks, myself included, have AR-15 platform rifles set up with long, heavy target barrels for target shooting purposes. They’ll be illegal. Many target rifles use what are called thumbhole stocks for the best possible grip/aim – they’ll be illegal.

    Springfield Armory, Rock River Arms and other firearms manufacturers located in Illinois (they also make weapons for our soldiers in Iraq) will leave Illinois if the bill passes. This is in print. More jobs lost to Illinois and four less companies for Blago to tax for his 6 billion $ heallth care/pensio bail out.

    What really irks me is that those of us who purchase and use firearms legally and safely and who cause no harm to you or anyone else, are going to be criminalized. And more heavily taxed. What do you think it will cost the state to have all of us who currently own soon to be banned firearms go and register them? Where will the manpower come from? Blago has already cut back on the personnel who process FOID cards and DNR staff, so where are the hundreds of staffers going to come from?

    Finally, there is only ONE semi-automatic .50 semi-automatic “assault” weapon: the Barrett .50 that weighs about 15 – 20 pounds and costs over $9000. There are currently no ranges in Illinois (except Blackwater’s!) that will allow you to shoot one – that is if you can afford one. I’d be willing to wager that there are fewer than 10 in the entire state and that’s a real stretch. Lots of money for something you can’t shoot anywhere anyway!

  6. DEar Yinn,

    Me again. You missed most of myt original point, namely that a blue anti-gun state, led by Democratic anti-gunners turned a very blind eye to a group led by a right wing evangelical extremist who has bilked the American taxpayer out of millions and millions of $ Instead of focusing on “bad” guns, shouldn’t we focus on bad politicians who have the power to send our loved ones into harm’s way?

  7. tategoi, I know very little about guns. I did, however, read the bill summary:

    Provides that 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment, any .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge. Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a large capacity ammunition feeding device. Provides that these provisions do not apply to a person who possessed a prohibited weapon, device, or attachment before the effective date of this amendatory Act if the person has provided proof of ownership to the Department of State Police within 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act. Provides that on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act, such person may transfer such device only to an heir, an individual residing in another state maintaining that device in another state, or a dealer licensed as a federal firearms dealer.

    If you tell me that a shotgun is a semi-automatic weapon, I’d be skeptical but have no real knowledge to counter what you’re saying. Or maybe I’m reading that part wrong. But I do know a grandfather clause when I see one.

    When it comes to your comment

    Instead of focusing on “bad” guns, shouldn’t we focus on bad politicians who have the power to send our loved ones into harm’s way?

    I’m totally with you.

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