Investigative journalist. The Nation Institute, Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow; frequent contributor to the Nation and both the radio and television programs Democracy Now! Previously worked as a foreign correspondent in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Nigeria.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Nation Books (New York, NY), 2007.
New York-based investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for the Nation Institute. He has frequently written for the Nation magazine, and contributes to both the television and radio programs Democracy Now! Over the course of his career, Scahill has worked as a foreign correspondent, reporting from such varied locations as Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Nigeria, and was awarded the Polk Award for his efforts. Scahill is also the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which was published by Nation Books in 2007.
Blackwater is a revealing look inside the mercenary special forces firm that has come into the public eye due to its relationship to the United States' war on terror. Scahill explains that the concept of hiring mercenaries in an ancient one, dating back to the Pharaohs of Egypt and many other powers through history. He also discusses the precedent for use of mercenaries in the United States, where private security companies such as the Pinkertons were widely used in the nineteenth century. As for Blackwater USA, the firm was established in 1996 by two former U.S. Navy SEALS. Scahill analyzes the development of the company as it hired on an entire staff of Special Forces operatives and managed to find themselves intricately involved in every major act of violence to have rocked the United States since the firm's inception, including not just wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the events at Columbine and the aftermath of the hurricane in New Orleans. The catastrophes served as opportunities for Blackwater to come in, serve their purpose, and walk out far richer and more powerful than they had been prior to each of the events. Violent situations lead law enforcement to seek out specialized training and more in-depth knowledge regarding tactical options, and the Blackwater training has been the offering of choice. Scahill also goes on to explain how Blackwater's power has escalated. Where once their troops were only deployed abroad in war situations, the devastation of New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina resulted in members of Blackwater patrolling the streets. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found Scahill's interpretation of Blackwater's conservative agenda and adherence to presidential mandate above all else to be a bit extreme, commenting that he "dismisses too lightly Blackwater's growing self-image as the respectable heir to a long and honorable tradition of contract soldiering." Brian Zabcik, in a review for Corporate Counsel, agreed that Scahill exhibited a partisan argument that was unfortunate, as it detracted from the fact that "the author raises a host of questions that should give even conservatives pause."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bookseller, June 22, 2007, "Serpent's Tail Gets Mercenary," p. 15.
Briarpatch, February 1, 2008, Jon Elmer, review of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, p. 29.
Corporate Counsel, May 1, 2007, Brian Zabcik, review of Blackwater, p. 121.
London Review of Books, August 2, 2007, "Hooyah!!," p. 3.
Middle East, March 1, 2008, Fred Rhodes, review of Blackwater, p. 64.
Middle East Journal, March 22, 2007, Peter B. White, review of Blackwater, p. 371.
New Statesman, August 27, 2007, "Cash and Glory," p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2007, review of Blackwater, p. 75.
Virginian-Pilot, September 27, 2007, "Author Brings His Campaign against Blackwater to Norfolk."
Blackwater Web site,http://www.blackwaterbook.com (May 15, 2008).
Nation,http://www.thenation.com/ (May 15, 2008), author profile.