Editorial: Blackwater poisons our back yard

Are the residents of rural Jo Daviess county ready to have their lifestyles and peace of mind stolen?

That is exactly what is going to happen if the Blackwater USA mercenary training camp outside of Stockton is allowed to flourish. It’s called Blackwater North. Really, the facility could affect all of northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa.

For those near this armed camp, get ready for the sound of helicopters, gunfire, explosions and increased traffic from every danger spot all over the world.

This traffic will not bring happy tourists to the lovely Victorian streets of Stockton. This traffic will bring trained killers, soldiers of fortune, bodyguards, or those who want to become trained killers, soldiers of fortune, or bodyguards—potentially very bad actors—guns for hire—from places like the Balkans, Colombia, Africa, Iraq or any other location of strife. Is this what we want to have as a known export from our backyard? Hello, Al-Qaeda!

These individuals will have no sense of civic responsibility to the community. Their economic responsibility will only be to the Blackwater USA (an ironic and appropriately perilous name) corporation or any other corporation or foreign government that wishes to hire them—good or bad.

As to Blackwater USA domesticity, our review by Dan Kenny of Jeremy Scahill’s book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, makes an instructive summary of Scahill’s revelation of Blackwater USA: “He brings to the to the surface for everyone to see the Blackwater’s owner and officials who are extreme right-wing Christian zealots, many of whom seem to believe they are involved in a holy war to save Christianity itself and Blackwater as their military arm. The rank and file of this military force that numbers over 20,000 come from some of the most corrupt regimes around the world. They are placed all over the world, and you can be sure if you smell oil, they are not far away.” Do we need to get involved in this?

This privatization of the U.S. military is detested by most of our senior commanders, and should be shunned by our local leaders and citizens. We will have a standing army in our countryside. They can give local police, sheriff and even the National Guard a deadly wallop if conflict arises. Many of these people are battle-hardened contractors. Lovely neighbors.

During the Gary Kaeding controversy and trial of the ’90s, local officials harped about Kaeding’s supposed (and never proven) links to Posse Comitatus, a domestic militia group professing the principles of Common Law. Remember all the stink about militias in Michigan, Idaho and Wyoming during the Clinton years as right-wing threats to domestic security and law enforcement?

Those quasi-legal militias were nothing compared with Blackwater! They’re comparatively poorly armed and U.S. citizens. Blackwater expands as a legal entity and an international one. They’re employed by the U.S. government, with little to no oversight, perhaps purposely so. Nonetheless, they are an independent army within the borders of the U.S., specifically in North Carolina and now just outside Stockton, Elizabeth and Freeport.

Yes, Blackwater is rising in our back yard, literally. Local residents and all who live in the area should be very concerned and “up in zoning.” The recent meeting in Elizabeth should be just the start. This is an agricultural area that now has a major international corporation in operation there. Is that appropriate? How will it affect adjacent property values? Where are the appropriate environmental impact studies, and who will pay for them?

Citizens may address their zoning concerns to:

Linda Delvaux,

Building & Zoning Administrator

William Keefer,

Code Enforcement Officer

Jo Daviess County Building & Zoning Office

791 U.S. Route 20

West Elizabeth, IL 61028

Phone: (815) 858-3810

Fax: (815) 858-2439

E-mail: buildingandzoning@jodaviess.org

Office Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday

How will the Blackwater facility affect tourism in the area? Is it safe? Will the facility attract similar businesses or support businesses that are not appropriate? Could it become an international terrorism target?

Citizens may address their economic and safety concerns to:

Daniel Reimer, County Administrator

Jo Daviess County Courthouse, Room 117

330 N. Bench St.

Galena, IL 61036

Phone: (815) 777-6557 Fax: (815) 777-2285

E-mail: countyadministrator@jodaviess.org

As 9/11 taught us, we are not invulnerable. All the citizens in every county in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa should be concerned about this potential target and threat. Where would there be a better place to strike terror than right here in the heartland of America?

Besides contacting every appropriate national, state, county and local official, if you would like to become involved in getting Blackwater out of the area, contact Clearwater, www.noprivatearmy.com. Tell them to tell Blackwater to ship out.

Besides the Byron nuclear plant, Blackwater North is the most potentially dangerous addition to our area in our history. Why ruin the beautiful countryside of Jo Daviess County and further shake everyone’s peace of mind? Blackwater needs to head back south. The “War on Terror” lurks too close already.

from the June 6-12, 2007, issue

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