It was the moment the war turned: On March 31, 2004, four Americans were ambushed and burned near their jeeps by an angry mob in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah. Their charred corpses were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. The ensuing slaughter by U.S. troops would fuel the fierce Iraqi resistance that haunts occupation forces to this day. But these men were neither American military nor civilians. They were highly trained private soldiers sent to Iraq by a secretive mercenary company based in the wilderness of North Carolina.
Meet Blackwater USA, the powerful private army that the U.S. government has quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. Its contacts run from deep inside the military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House. Blackwater is the elite Praetorian Guard for the “global war on terror,” with its own military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, and 20,000 private contractors at the ready. Run by a multimillionaire Christian conservative who bankrolls President Bush and his allies, its forces are capable of overthrowing governments, and yet most people have never heard of Blackwater.
This book is the unauthorized story of the epic rise of one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex. It traces Blackwater’s beginnings in 1996, with visionary executives opening a private military training camp “to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing”; to its secret deployment in Afghanistan following 9/11; to the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah and a fierce gun battle in Muqtada al-Sadr’s stronghold of Najaf. The story races from Blackwater’s expedition to the oil-rich Caspian Sea to set up a military base miles from Iran; to New Orleans, where its forces patrolled the hurricane-ravaged streets; to the chambers of power in Washington, D.C., where Blackwater executives are welcomed as new heroes in the war on terror. The administration hails Blackwater as a revolution in military affairs; others see its rise as nothing less than a dire threat to American democracy.