Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Everything "New" is really old returning again


We've all seen them on the news. They are a private secuity firm that the US has hired to do a lot of military-like action in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military doesn't have the manpower to pull infantry from doing infantry work and instead have them be armed escorst for diplomats, state deparment officials, etc etc. Enter Blackwater. Of course, there are also areas where we probably should be having our own military do the work. I hear that Blackwater is contracted to provide security for the Army engineers, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers (which is to my understanding a wield of civilian and military) Of course you have a big middle ground too, if we contract out someone to do the laundry and haul the supplies, then having actual military or contract a mercinary military type force is a bit of a grey area. On top of that all, Blackwater is also hired by individual contractors from builders to news meida to provide protection. They were hired in the wake of Katrina to provide security for the richest of the rich in New Orleans.

Either way, people are concerned (and rightly so) that Blackwater and other groups are too "shoot first, and ask questi...na shoot twice!" which hurts our cause, and as a single entity, Blackwater is too big, and that is dangerous. I haven't found any figures on the number of contractors who carry guns under the Blackwater logo, but it is big. And they have many helocopters, fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers, and the like in private ownership. No tanks or cannons, yet...

Everything "New" is really the old returning again. In this case, I see a lot of parallels to the

Pinkerton National Detective Agency
I have been reading up on them. I have heard the name time to time, and they did get a lot of mention and some screen time in the HBO "Deadwood" series, but never really new a lot. What they are probably most know for is anti-union activities, and the industry-vs-union fight has faded away to nothing, so have the Pinkertons. My understanding is that the eventually merged with a global security company, the one whose logo is a black rectangle with three red circles in a line "..." But they weren't just getting money from Andrew Carnege, they had big government contracts too.
In 1871, Congress appropriated $50,000 to the new Department of Justice to form a suborganization devoted to "the detection and prosecution of those guilty of violating federal law." The amount was insufficient for the DOJ to fashion an integral investigating unit, so the DOJ contracted out the services to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency
Sounds familiar right? But instead of hiring Blackwater to be the army, the DOJ hired Pinkertons to be the FBI. And just like Blackwater, they were big, real big.
During its height, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more agents than the standing army, causing Ohio to outlaw the agency due to fears it could be hired out as a private army or militia.
This was enough of a concern that there was eventually a law passed, called the Anti-Pinkerton Act which stated...
Sec. 3108. Employment of detective agencies; restrictions
-STATUTE- An individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization, may not be employed by the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia.
Now, it does go a bit further, allowing contracts of under 1 year in certain situations, but has also been updated to specifically dissallow such people from being hired as the head of the FBI or DEA.
What I find really intersting is how Pinterkon moved from being just a small firm like everything starts at, to such a huge entity. Apparently, they were contracted to protect Abraham Lincoln from assasination, and foiled a few attempts, gaining much fame. Eventually the US army took over the protection detail, and we all know what happened then. And this is where Blackwater got it's start too, protecting dignitaries, diplomats, and state department officials.
And that also makes me wonder exactly why Blackwater isn't considered "Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization..."


Gus said...

The Pinkertons make great bad guys. In addition to Deadwood, they were the villains in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. In a hundred years from now Blackwater will be great stock villains. Except you won't be able to call them Blackwater for fear of a trademark violation.

avk said...

That's a really astute and interesting comparison. I hope some History student in search of a topic stumbles across it.

w1ndst0rm said...

I read the whole post thinking the PNDA was a group in our Zombie game. Should we organize and take the name?

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