No degrees of separation: Blackwater and Womble Carlyle

The mercenary scourge that is Blackwater continues to pollute North Carolina's political and cultural landscape with little sign of let up. Fueled by your tax dollars at work, the company appears fully capable of buying whatever influence it wants, including the hired guns at one of North Carolina's most "admired" law firms, Womble Carlyle Sandridge Rice.

To celebrate these "admired" attorneys being only one step removed from the criminal actions of Erik Prince's Blackwater thugs, Blackwater Watch and NC Stop Torture Now have joined forces to sponsor a good, old-fashioned protest at the offices of WCSR in Winston Salem.

One Year Anniversary Protest and Rally Against Blackwater

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 4-6 p.m.

at Blackwater's Lobbyist Firm Headquarters:

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
One West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Sponsored by Blackwater Watch and North Carolina Stop Torture Now

For more information email admin at blackwaterwatch dot net

I have long been a proponent of hanging the ugliness of Blackwater around the necks of the attorneys lobbying for them at WCSR, and I hope this creates every ounce of public shame they deserve.

And just in case you need a primer on the mercenary madness, here's a summary from Blackwater Watch.

Blackwater Worldwide, a mercenary group, has a history of killing innocent civilians. In Nisour Square, Iraq, on September 16, 2007, Blackwater “security personnel” shot and killed without provocation seventeen Iraqis civilians, including a nine year old boy.

Blackwater has taken no responsibility for any of the killings. Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, told Congress one month after the Nisour Square Massacre that he had no knowledge of his men hurting innocent civilians.

Blackwater is not part of the military! It is a business that profits from bloodshed and killing. Its personnel are not accountable to military, civil, or criminal law. One year after the killings, no one at Blackwater has been charged for any of the killings of innocent civilians.

Blackwater used subsidiary business names to apply for its building permits in San Diego to avoid the normal permit process and avoid public scrutiny. Blackwater has done everything in their power to stop the right of the San Diego City Council, the City Attorney, and San Diego residents to say “no” to having Blackwater here, including suing the City of San Diego.

Blackwater is a company that profits from conflict. NO CONFLICT = NO PROFIT! Blackwater mercenaries along the US-Mexico border will seek to profit from border instability. Any minor difference among ethnic groups can easily be exploited by Blackwater mercenaries to intervene and make money.


Once Again

I'll stick my ugly head up and note that to attack the lobbyists for speaking on behalf of their clients is to say that there can be no point of view in opposition to your or my perspective about Blackwater that others should be permitted to hear.

As much as I despise what Blackwater is and what it stands for, I find the effort to squelch their advocates just as despicable.

Perhaps even more so.

Got it.

But let me ask you this:

Is there any organization, company, person or cause that you'd judge a lobbyist harshly for supporting?

Based on your previous comments, I'm assuming there is not. I'm assuming you'd condone any lobbyist's actions on behalf of any entity willing to pay, no matter how reprehensible the entity.

Is that right?


Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

it might depend on how lively my imagination is,

but as I said once to a professor who asked whether he should lecture on the "other side" of the slavery quesion, "Hell yes, if that's an issue we are still facing that still requires resolution."

I'm not afraid of what the "other side" has to say about slavery, because I'm very sure that I'm right in my judgment that it is wrong and I am confident that my arguments in that regard will prevail. Get it?

But if I participate in the squelching of the voice on the opposing side of an argument, it says that I am afraid that if others hear it, others will be persuaded by what I regard to be false.

Well, frankly, squelching the other side of an argument is no way to win yours.

Of course, using your "I'm-certain-that-I'm-right-so-there-can-be-no-other-point-of-view-that-is-legitimate" mindset, I could justify all the censorship of any given era. I could justify book burning, dissident torture and represssion of language, education, music or any other cultural influence that I think detracts from my great truth.

So take your self-righteousness and stuff it.

This isn't rocket science. You don't like the system that permits money to buy influence; you attack that system -- NOT those who advocate ideas you dislike, unless you think that it's legitimate for others to silence you when someone decides you're doing the same thing.

See "McCarthy era" for further explication.

I should have known.

Never mind.


Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

Cyrano de Blackwater

If what you say is true then James or anyone else has as much right to lobby the lobbyists as the lobbyists have to lobby our elected and appointed officials.

Lobbyists choose their clients. They are not court appointed. There is nothing wrong with lobbying the lobbyists to influence their choices.

Womble Carlysle's relationship as a contractor to Blackwater, representing it in the public square, is not that much different from the contractors representing it in Nisour Square.

There is nothing sacred about Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice.

But that's not what you're doing

No, there's nothing sacred about Womble Caryle, nor did anything in my post imply it.

What is sacred to me is the concept that unpopular views are allowed to be heard, even when I despise the views.

And you aren't lobbying the lobbyist; let's be real. This campaign of James' on this blog isn't about lobbying W/C at all. It's about attacking them for who they've chosen to have as a client.

You want to stifle W/C and any firm that would represent Blackwater's interests.

That's wrong. It's wrong for the same reasons it was wrong to blacklist people in the McCarthy era. (By the way, McCarthy would love your reasoning here.)

It's also interesting that you seem to draw a line between someone who is raising his or her voice from direct personal interest or because he or she is being paid to do so. But the principle of the free exchange of ideas doesn't recognize any difference. The point is the idea, not how the person articulating personally feels about it. You are seeking to squelch that idea from being articulated by blackening the person speaking.

If you dislike, as I do, the fact that our system of government is corrupted by money, you should attack that system. But that's not what you're doing.

If you dislike an idea, you should attack that idea. That's not what you're doing. You're attacking someone (an entity) for promoting an idea. You're going after the person/entity.

Reminds me of people who shoot Doctors who perform abortions, or post their names and addresses on webpages covered with bloody images. There's really no difference. These anti-choice activists can quite righteously claim to be "lobbying" the doctors.

The way I see it

What you are doing to James is no different with the exception that comparing a "good, old-fashioned protest" to shooting doctors is over the top.


What on earth am I doing to James???

You mean that by arguing that he should attack the idea instead of the person and noting the closeness of his and your reasoning to that of anti-choice people who target doctors (whether with rifles or websites) I am attacking him (or you) personally and trying to portray you to others as evil-doers?


Greg, I assure you that the people who are rationalizing their targeting of Doctors feel just as deeply about the morality of what they are doing as you and James do about your targeting of W/C.

We are hardly in a postion to attack the system

when the system is gamed so amazingly well by the lobbyists who perpetuate it. We have already lost that battle. I see no other way for American citizens, in this climate of Republican locked down power, to voice our horror at the influence that is purchased through the tools of Blackwater.

The cards are so stacked against getting a hold on the entrenched politicians who allow private mercenaries to operate beyond law that we may have no other way to attack.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

I hope you're wrong about that

As difficult as it is to attack the system, I don't think we should ever give up that fight.

And honestly, if this is about fighting the good fight, the only way to do it is to attack the system.

In terms of strategy alone, attacking Womble Carlyle isn't going to work. It may make a person feel better inside for getting to vent and express anger, but it isn't the right thing to do for the reasons I've mentioned above, and it isn't going to yield positive results. If anything, it makes the persons going after the messenger instead of the message look bad.

It would be much more effective to continue to educate people about what Blackwater does and why that is not in the national interest.

I hope I'm wrong too

and I agree that we should not give up the good fight but on this issue in particular, bringing shame, if that is still something left in the human heart, is a way to bring the message home.

Jeremy Scahill may be the most authoritative journalist on modern mercenary armies. He has uncovered the circular Republican money machine that pumps relentlessly from no bid contracts to grease the politicians who keep them protected and so on.

Educating people on voting their own interests is hard enough without trying to get the national interests on their radar. I'm afraid it's going to take some rebels to stand up and shout.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

Are you really "educating"....

I keep hearing a bunch about this terrible company...but all I see is a bunch of ex military guys protecting Americans in a dangerous place. Didn't we have a bunch of diplomats get taken hostage in Iran when they weren't guarded...?

You wish to "educate" people....but I'm not sure that you are. I think you need facts to do that. It seems like you are trying to brainwash people if you ask me. And like the other guy said....heaven help the person who happens to disagree with you....

You really don't like that, do you?

Check out the link

for Blackwater Watch in the diary above and you will see some of the more alarming news about this mercenary group. The fact that they are seeking to wedge themselves into areas in this country to do border control is a danger to American citizens and immigrants, illegal and legal.

I think my point was not about trying to educate so much as trying to shine a spotlight and bring some accountability to those who participate in a company whose lawless behavior has brought episodes of tyranny in Iraq, a place where we sought to bring freedom and peace.

You may not agree with me but we are having a civilized dialogue are we not?

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

Bringing shame

Again, I in complete sympathy with your motives, but
this rationale, "bringing shame" is exactly the same as that employed by the anti-choice folks when they publish on websites, alongside bloody images and graphics depicting flowing blood, the names and addresses of doctors who perform abortions.

But this is attacking the system

This issue has both public and private aspects, Bru, and they are interconnected in ways that make the behavior of Womble Carlyle of prime interest to the (general) public.

Blackwater has been paid over a billion dollars in government contracts, some of which have made it into the coffers of WC. That means that you and I and everybody reading this have contributed money, even if indirectly, to the law firm in question. You may consider that a stretch, but I believe it gives any taxpayer the right to be critical of WC.

As far as the strictly private sector behavior of the firm, "free market" mentality comes into play. Those who strongly believe in a free market believe that economics, not government intervention, should dictate the punishment of companies that act in an "immoral" fashion. While I don't really agree that this is sufficient to deter bad corporate behavior, activists have been using this approach (often successfully) for years.

Womble Carlyle represents Blackwater because of the money, period. But they also represent numerous other clients, and (I'm sure) have hopes of attracting even more. Those current and future clients have a right to know of WC's relationship to Blackwater, and we have a right to tell them about it. Some of them may not care, and some of them may choose (for whatever reason) to take their business elsewhere.

If the latter happens enough, WC may be forced (by the free market) to drop Blackwater as a client. Blackwater may find it difficult to replace the quality of their representation, their exposure and "standing" in the eyes of government entities suffers, they get fewer government contracts, yada yada. Eventually (theoretically), Blackwater is forced to radically alter their behavior, and (hopefully) become less militaristic in nature.

I know you know all this, but I figured some other folks might benefit (or fall asleep) reading it.

That dog won't hunt, Steve

Attacking Womble Carlyle for choosing to represent Blackwater's interests is not attacking the system. It's attacking an entity because you don't like the message it is delivering.

All the talk about economics and interests won't change that fundamental fact.

And again, it's a very inefficient strategy. You are blurring the real issue by attacking W/C and taking focus off what the real concern is -- which is what Blackwater does.

Anti-Choice people should be going after the laws that they consider permissive or should be focused on enacting laws that would prohibit behavior they deplore. Instead, they go after the doctors who perform lawful operations. That's exactly what you're doing with Womble Carlyle.

You could take each paragraph above and substitute "doctors who perform abortions" for Womble Carlyle, and it wouldn't change your point.

It certainly supports mine.

While we're comparing arguments....

Why is Bru's argument any different than "love the sinner, hate the sin?"

If I disagree with you on a matter, then yes, I think you, either as a person or representative of a group, have poor judgement regarding the matter.

Also, just because "shaming" is effective, does that necessarily make it wrong?

This thread truly interests me as it relates to advocacy. I'm not trying to start a flame war, but determine what the majority of this community feels is fair play.


There's no similarity in argument at all.

Good lord. I appreciate your interest, but I think you're misunderstanding the argument completely.

We're talking about advocacy. We're talking about the public square and John Stuart Mill, not a pillory or the stocks and the town elders.

This is about whether or not it is "good" strategy (in terms of morals and in terms of effectiveness) to attack the person carrying a given message or to attack the message.

One side says I will achieve my purpose of fighting the message if I discredit the messenger or otherwise discourage him from bearing the message.

The other side says you will not achieve your purpose in this fashion; you are not attacking the message and it is wrong as a matter of public policy to discourage the airing of arguments you disagree with. It is better, I think, to fight with your own arguments.

You cannot champion the concept of free speech if your zeal to uphold it applies only to speech you happen to like.

I suspect we have lots of differences

I'm a pragmatist - looking for something that will work.

Blackwater is all but immune to challenges in today's fear-laden environment. They have effectively bought off federal and state governments, the State Department, the press, and now ... one of North Carolina's most prestigious law firms. "It's just business" is not an explanation I'm willing to accept.

To be clear, I'm not challenging WCSR's right to prostitute their law firm in service of war profiteers. I'm questioning their participation in war-profiteering themselves. That's why the title of the original post was: No degrees of separation.

Will challenging the decency and integrity WCSR work? Probably not. They seem quite comfortable profiting from their support of companies that specialize in destroying human lives.


Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

That's your rationale.

But I'll stick with John Stuart Mill.

Your Lawyers is well connected? Right?

That's your rationale.

But I'll stick with John Stuart Mill. *Bruntte

I don't remember John Stuart Mill name being on the Declaration of Independence against the bloody Tory law firm " Lord North" that rep King George the 3 rd in the American Revolution?

James is right! All political Whores who take from their clients are nothing but hire guns like Blackwater at taxpayers expense. Expose the Rat Bastards!


So WCSR isn't only profiting from the Military Industrial Complex 2.0. They're also True Believers.

Scary shit.


The end of an error

Know what is even scarier?

What's even scarier is when a so-called progressive resorts to "the means justify the ends" tactics. When people who would proudly call themselves "liberal" resort to the tactics favored by McCarthy, Nixon and Bush, we've got a real scary problem in the community.

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