Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ban Blackwater from Iraq

Blackwater is back in California.

Just a few months after the courageous people of Potrero kicked Blackwater out of their small town on the California border, Blackwater has announced plans to open a 61,600 square-foot "training facility" in San Diego just THREE blocks from Mexican border.

In other words, Blackwater is using your tax dollars on a mercenary war in Iraq -- $320 million paid so far, over 60% in no-bid contracts -- to subsidize building a base of operations inside California.

Blackwater's border bait-and-switch has shocked the citizens of San Diego. Shortly before pulling their plans on Potrero, the private military contractor quietly used a shell company called "Southwest Law Enforcement" to gain city permits for a "vocational trade school" a stone's throw from the Tijuana Airport. While Blackwater denies that this deception is a trojan horse to land border security contracts from the federal government before George W. Bush leaves office, the ominous writing is on California's wall.

What will it take to stop Blackwater for good in California and Iraq? Local and national pressure. This time, the Courage Campaign plans to fight a two-front battle against Blackwater -- on the border in San Diego and in the halls of Congress.

To block Blackwater in California for good, we need to put them out of business in Iraq forever. That's why we're supporting Rep. Jan Schakowsky's "Stop Outsourcing Security Act" (H.R. 4102), which would phase out private security companies like Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan. An identical bill in the Senate (S. 2398) has been co-sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton.

If Senator Clinton can call for Blackwater to be banned from Iraq, so can Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

And so can you. Please join us now in asking Speaker Pelosi -- California's most powerful member of Congress -- to take leadership by supporting the "Stop Outsourcing Security Act." On Monday, we will deliver thousands of your signatures to Speaker Pelosi's offices in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Please add your signature and spread the word today:

Rep. Schakowsky's bill in the House requires that within six months of passage, "the secretary of State shall ensure that all personnel at any United States diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq are provided security services only by federal government personnel."

Senator Clinton was unequivocal in her support for this ground-breaking legislation:

"From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command."

The bill is also gaining momentum in the progressive grassroots and netroots as a foundational piece of the "Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq" -- the people-powered plan we told you about a few weeks ago that has now been endorsed by 55 congressional candidates for Congress.This Thursday, May 1, True Majority will deliver the "Responsible Plan" to members of Congress across America on the fifth anniversary of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" declaration. On Monday, May 5, we'll follow up by delivering your signatures to Speaker Pelosi's offices in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

With funding for the war in Iraq being considered by Congress right now, there's no better time to shine a light on Blackwater. If we can convince Speaker Pelosi to stop Blackwater from privatizing national security with our tax dollars, it could be the beginning of the end for Blackwater in Iraq. And California.

Please take a stand and spread the word today, before we deliver your signatures to Speaker Pelosi on Monday:

Time is not on our side. Blackwater claims that it may be able to begin operations in San Diego as early as this summer. Meanwhile, the Iraq contract that Blackwater is operating under -- the State Department's "Worldwide Personal Protective Services" contract to guard infrastructure and diplomats -- is up for renewal in May.
We need to go on offense now, locally and nationally, to stop the outsourcing of our security operations in Iraq and on the Mexican border. That means blocking Blackwater from San Diego and banning Blackwater from Iraq before it's too late.
Please forward this email to your friends today and ask them to sign our petition to Speaker Pelosi before Monday at 9 a.m.

Thank you for everything you are doing to make 2008 a new era for progressive politics in California. And the world.

Rick Jacobs, Chair
Courage Campaign

P.S. The people of Potrero spoke out loud and clear that Blackwater was not welcome in San Diego County. Now it's up to the Mayor and the San Diego City Council to stand up against these mercenaries setting up shop on in California. In a few days, we'll give you an update on the battle brewing over Blackwater's new base on the border and what you can do to stop it.

But first, we need your help to ban Blackwater from Iraq. Please sign the petition to Speaker Pelosi now:

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