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What is Blackwater’s Role in the 2008 Presidential Race?

What is Blackwater’s Role in the 2008 Presidential Race?

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney cited Cofer Black, the former head of Counterterrorism at the CIA, as his advisor on issues involving prisoner interrogation during a recent presidential debate. Black is now the vice chairman on private military firm, Blackwater. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” about Romney and Black as well as State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard and his brother’s ties to the company.

We turn to the latest in the unfolding controversy surrounding the private military firm Blackwater. On Friday the State Department”s top investigator was forced to resign following the disclosure his brother sat on Blackwater’s advisory board. Inspector General Howard Krongard had initially denied his brother”s ties to the company. Current and former State Department officials have previously accused Krongard of thwarting probes into contracting waste and crimes in Iraq—including alleged arms smuggling by Blackwater guards.

Meanwhile, after initially indicating it would let Blackwater’s contract expire in May, State Department officials are now raising the likelihood of a renewal. The acting head of U.S. diplomatic security, Gregory Starr, has reportedly told Blackwater it will be judged on its actions “from here on out.” That would preclude from consideration the September shooting deaths of seventeen Iraqi civilians by Blackwater guards in Baghdad.

In his latest piece for the Nation Magazine, independent journalist and Democracy Now correspondent Jeremy Scahill writes that Blackwater isn”t taking any chances on keeping its lucrative deals. Scahill says Blackwater has launched a major rebranding campaign aimed at winning new government contracts far beyond Iraq. And it”s also playing a role in the presidential race, establishing deep ties to Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.

Jeremy Scahill joins us in the firehouse studio. He is the author of the best-selling book “Blackwater: The Rise of the World”s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

We also speak with Scott Horton, New York attorney specializing in international law and human rights.

Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist, Democracy Now correspondent, author of “Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

Scott Horton, New York attorney specializing in international law and human rights. He is a contributor to Harper"s Magazine where he writes the blog No Comment. He served as chair of the International Law Committee at the New York Bar Association.

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