Blackwater Potrero - "Blackwater West" Mercenary Camp
, part of the
and one of the largest private military contractors in the world, proposed "Blackwater West" to be built in a valley just north of the small town of Potrero, in East San Diego County. The facility would have comprised 824 acres, including a portion of the Cleveland National Forest. The valley is one of a chain of valleys starting in Descanso, part of the original two-million acre preserve originally designated by Teddy Roosevelt. Since then, it has been reduced to 650K acres, and swiss-cheesed with private ownership. This valley has been used as a chicken ranch.
Blackwater pulled this project due to fierce public outcry on March 7, 2008. See
Blackwater Otay to review their new secret invasion into Otay Mesa!
The proposed use will substantially develop the property and utilize it for target practice using pistols and carbines, a two-mile race track for emergency vehicle training, an 18,000 sqft armory, dormitories, mess hall, etc. The intention is to service 300 students each week (15,000 trainees per year) with 60 staff in residence on-site. See
Blackwater West Project Description for details, and Detailed Plot Plan.
Blackwater does not want to admit that they represent a mercenary firm. "Civilians under arms for hire = mercenaries" precisely defines their activities. More than that, they frequently train and deploy foreigners, which makes the point even stronger. Although Blackwater says they will only engage in some activities at the proposed Blackwater West facility near Potrero, such as training of law enforcement and military, there is no licensing or oversight function that exists that can ensure that this is in fact the case, and the function of the facility could change overnight. Its proximity to Mexico is another concern.
Was this location selected so they can profit from lucrative border-security contracts, is it preferred so they can train cheap Mexican soldiers for their private army, or is this preferred so they can perform extraordinary rendition of "enemy combatants" in a partner facility in the El Hongo district of Tecate? Unfortunately, due to the Black-Ops contracts with the CIA, NSA, and military industrial complex, we may never know for sure.
One thing is certain, this insanity must be stopped.
Blackwater Otay project discovered, 4-22-2008. See pictures and satellite images of this secret project flying under the radar under the pseudonym "Southwest Law Enforcement" Potrero Planning Group Recall Election - Details of the election which recalled all five pro-Blackwater members from the Potrero Planning Group.
Stop Blackwater Rally -- Our huge rally at the gates of Blackwater West Oct 6-7, 2007 was very successful! FOR MORE NEWS -- see Blackwater News Media for a complete list.
Portion of Forest Service Map Showing the site. Cleveland National Forest is to the North, and a portion of the purchased property is within the Forest boundary.
View looking northwest from the entrance of the valley. Chicken coops are the buildings in the distance. See Round Potrero Valley Images for more pictures!
Virtual Visit to the site:
The Rise and Fall of Blackwater in Potrero -- As seen on TV
@@ TODO - Make Media Topic for the above.
Status and Recent History:
Blackwater met with Rep. Duncan Hunter and Sup. Dianne Jacob in May, 2006.
Project opened at the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) June, 2006.
Blackwater made presentation to the Potrero Planning Group in Oct. 2006
Potrero Planning Group voted 7-0 to approve the project in Dec. 2006
Jan Hedlun was sworn into office in January, 2007. She is has been the sole opponent to the project on the Potrero Planning Group.
Scoping meeting is held at the DPLU office on Ruffin Rd, San Diego. 125 Protesters marched outside locked gates.
Potrero Planning Group Recall Election - Details of the election which recalled all five pro-Blackwater members from the Potrero Planning Group.
General location and Project Plan
General information about Blackwater
Selected Articles and Media:
Selected by site curator
, these articles, videos, and news releases mark important milestones in the rise of
and our struggle to Stop
and other locations!. Listed most recent first.
(StopOutsourcingSecurityAct) 2010-02-23 -- Jan Schakowski, Bernie Sanders, Congress,
Stop Outsourcing Security Act (OpenLetterToCongress) 2010-01-12 -- Raymond Lutz, Dan Kenney, Christian Stalberg, Open Letter to Congress -- Dismissal of Case Against Blackwater Contractors Condemned, Groups Unite behind Stop Outsourcing Security Act Citizens Oversight,
(M904) 2009-12-12 -- Mark Mazzetti, Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A. New York Times,
(M898) 2009-11-24 -- Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan: Jeremy Scahill Reveals Private Military Firm Operating in Pakistan Under Covert Assassination and Kidnapping Program Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now,
(M874) 2009-10-22 -- Jeremy Scahill, Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Blackwater The Nation,
(M870) 2009-10-16 -- Blackwater-Xe Contract Canceled by Southwestern College Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, We worked for ten months on this project, and success is sweet indeed! THANK YOU!
(M822) 2009-08-31 -- ADAM GOLDMAN and PAMELA HESS, Blackwater tapped foreigners on secret CIA program Associated Press,
(M809) 2009-08-04 -- Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Now we know why Prince stepped down.
(M804) 2009-07-23 -- Blackwater Seeks Gag Order Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Blackwater attempts to silence Iraqi lawsuits using a gag order claiming that information could impact national security.
(M778) 2009-05-07 -- , upi.com,
Blackwater, now Xe, era ends in Iraq (M873) 2009-04-23 -- Mc Cain Conference, Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, United States Naval Academy (Citizens Oversight),
Ethics and Military Contractors: Examining the Public-Private Partnership. (M760) 2009-03-21 -- Iraqi widow files suit; husband killed by Blackwater employee Greg Moran, Union Tribune,
(M755) 2009-03-16 -- CPRA Request of Southwestern College & Blackwater Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Blackwater In Southwestern College
(M731) 2009-02-13 -- Mike Baker, Blackwater Sheds Tarnished Name: New Name Is 'Xe' Huffington Post,
(M721) 2009-01-30 -- BRIAN ROSS and KIRIT RADIA, State Department To Blackwater: You're Fired, Leave Iraq by May Abc News,
(M697) 2008-12-08 -- , C Span, U.S. Justice Department hands down 35-charge indictments against Blackwater Guards Nisour Square Massacre VIDEO NOT AVAILABLE
(M683) 2008-11-19 -- August Cole, Iraq Pact Forces Security Contractors to Confront Work Without Immunity Wall Street Journal,
(M652) 2008-10-03 -- Kirit Radia, Govt. Uses Contractors to Probe Iraq Contractors Abc News, State Dept. Move to Let Contractors Probe Complaints Over Other Contractors May Be Illegal
(M653) 2008-10-02 -- Brian Ross, Blackwater Machine Gun Found in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents Abc News,
(M641) 2008-09-17 -- Ex-Blackwater trainer faces drug charges in Canada Bill Sizemore, Virginian Pilot,
(M565) 2008-07-02 -- Kristin Bricker, Narco Sphere, WARNING -- TORTURE VIDEO IS DISTURBING.
US Private Contractor Leads Torture Training in Mexico (M549) 2008-06-18 -- Joseph Neff and Jay Price, ,
U.S. company: crash lawsuit governed by Islamic law (M529) 2008-06-11 -- , Protesters Rally Against Blackwater Facility Kusi News,
(BlackwaterVsCityOfSanDiegoTranscript) 2008-05-30 -- Blackwater vs. City of San Diego, Federal Court - Transcript Marilyn Huff, United States District Court, City Of San Diego
(M520) 2008-05-21 -- , Suit by Blackwater vs. City of San Diego Blackwater Worldwide, Mentions Jerry Sanders
(M519) 2008-05-20 -- Neil Dymott legal firm, Letter from Blackwater Attorney demanding Occupancy Permit Blackwater Worldwide, Mentions Michael Aguirre
(M517) 2008-05-19 -- Raymond Lutz, Carol Jahnkow, Susan Friedman, Citizens Groups Call for an Expanded Inquiry into Blackwater Permits Citizens Oversight, Mentions Michael Aguirre Jerry Sanders
(M518) 2008-05-19 -- Kelly Broughton, Michael Aguirre, City of San Diego denies occupancy Permit to Blackwater for Otay Mesa facility. City Of San Diego, Mentions Michael Aguirre Jerry Sanders
(M510) 2008-04-29 -- Shooting range owner cuts ties to Blackwater Anne Krueger, Union Tribune,
(M503) 2008-04-23 -- Blackwater revives mission -- Security contractor plans training center Anne Krueger, Union Tribune,
(M484) 2008-03-13 -- Potrero CPG 2008-03-13 Blackwater Resolution Only Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Final meeting denying the application from Blackwater.
(M453) 2008-03-07 -- Letter from Blackwater, pulls project from Potrero Brian Bonfiglio, ,
(M357) 2007-12-14 -- Corey Flintoff, Timeline: Blackwater and Security Regulations National Public Radio, Nice summary of all the security violations
(M355) 2007-12-13 -- Potrero Planning Group Meeting, Dec 13, 2007 Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Newly elected planning group members take office.
(M349) 2007-11-25 -- Andy Trimlett, Alternate Focus,
Rise and Fall of Blackwater in Potrero (M282) 2007-11-07 -- Paul M Krawzak, Filner backs plan to end Blackwater contracting Union Tribune,
(M264) 2007-11-06 -- , Daytona Beach News Journal,
Mercenary Immunity (M279) 2007-11-06 -- , Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater: They're Christian Supremacists With a Conversion Agenda [VIDEO] Alter Net,
(M245) 2007-11-01 -- Noah Shachtman, Wired Blog Network,
World's Most Notorious Merc to Oversee Blackwater? (M229) 2007-10-30 -- 'Working as a team': Blackwater fury shelved as Potrero reacts to Harris fire Pat Sherman, San Diego City Beat,
(M288) 2007-10-27 -- Visit to Blackwater West Site after the Harris Ranch Fire Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M213) 2007-10-23 -- Eilene Zimmerman, Salon Dot Com,
Blackwater's run for the border (M207) 2007-10-22 -- Rebecca Cerese, Blackwater Watch,
Video of Civil Disobedience at Blackwater Gate in North Carolina (M209) 2007-10-22 -- Klaus Marre, The Hill,
Waxman: Blackwater may have engaged in tax evasion (M216) 2007-10-22 -- Antonio Garza, Mexican Ambassador to the United States,
Blackwater likely to train Mexican drug warriors - Press release from Mexico (M202) 2007-10-19 -- Jeff Hampton, Blackwater asks county to allow extended firing range hours Virginian Pilot, [Wants to shoot until midnight.]
(M203) 2007-10-19 -- Richard Lardner, Blackwater Wanted Iraqi Military Planes Associated Press,
(M212) 2007-10-19 -- Alfredo Corchado, Dallas Morning News, Implies that Blackwater could be used for training of Mexican drug warriors.
$1.4 billion U.S.-Mexico anti-drug program to entail use of private contractors (M195) 2007-10-11 -- Blackwater West Discussion at the Potrero Community Planning Group 11 Oct 2007 Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M268) 2007-10-11 -- EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting Amy Goodman, Democracy Now,
(M287) 2007-10-06 -- Stop Blackwater Rally Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M155) 2007-09-17 -- Blackwater License Being Pulled in Iraq Associated Press, New York Times,
(M152) 2007-09-13 -- Potrero Planning Group Meeting, 13 Sep 2007 Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M164) 2007-09-12 -- Katherine Mc Intire Peters, Government Executive, Confirms that Blackwater has contract in counter-narcoterrorism business ($15B)
Contractors take on expanded role in drug war (M131) 2007-08-27 -- , strategypage.com,
Blackwater Buys Brazilian Bombers (M129) 2007-08-22 -- University Severs Police Institute, Blackwater Deal Associated Press, WRAL,
(M125) 2007-08-15 -- Jay Price, Judge halts Blackwater arbitration News Observer,
(M115) 2007-08-12 -- Paramilitary Training Camps Forum Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Presentations by Wind Zero, Covert Canyon, and about Blackwater, discussion following.
(M93) 2007-07-25 -- RJHillhouse, Outsourcing National Intelligence The Nation,
(M91) 2007-07-24 -- Blackwater Opponents Say County Employee Has Conflict of Interest Amita Sharma, KPBS Full Focus,
(M78) 2007-07-21 -- Wind Zero Q&A and Site Visit Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M71) 2007-07-08 -- Blackwater team sent wrong way Associated Press, Boston Globe,
(M72) 2007-07-08 -- Joseph Neff, Memos blame Blackwater ambush on orders to leave unprepared Virginian Pilot,
(M62) 2007-06-23 -- Wind Zero Presentation Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, 1hr 20min - Wind Zero presented at community council meeting of Ocotillo / Nomirage
(M58) 2007-06-15 -- Pull the plug on the mercenary war Jeremy Scahill, Global Research,
(M59) 2007-06-14 -- Blackwater on the Border Nancy Conroy, Gringo Gazette, Statement from the Editor
(M56) 2007-06-10 -- Adam Howard, Blackwater-backed Torture Flights Caught in the UK Alter Net,
(M55) 2007-06-08 -- Daniel J. Callahan and Marc P. Miles, Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story Alter Net,
(M47) 2007-06-05 -- Covert Canyon Video Tour Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Covert Canyon
(M48) 2007-06-01 -- Stop Blackwater Presentation Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M42) 2007-05-31 -- County Ceases Canyon’s Covert Operation Miriam Raftery, East County Californian, Covert Canyon's owner has been linked to Blackwater.
(M33) 2007-05-23 -- Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Bill Sizemore, Pivotal Family Lawsuit Against Blackwater USA Blocked from Court -- and Moved to Panel with Company Ties Democracy Now,
(M35) 2007-05-23 -- Marc Halcon, News 8, [Includes two parts]
News 8 Exclusive: Secret 'Covert Canyon' Training Camp Operating In Alpine (M25) 2007-05-20 -- Suit against Blackwater over contractor deaths moves to arbitration Bill Sizemore, Virginian Pilot, [Incredible move by Blackwater to process the Fallujah victims by arbitration.]
(M31) 2007-05-18 -- Backcountry Revitalization meeting Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Dianne Jacob admits to private meeting with Blackwater and Duncan Hunter in May, 2006
(M14) 2007-05-12 -- Panel in hot water over Blackwater vote: Recall petition, lawsuit under way Anne Krueger, Union Tribune,
(M21) 2007-05-10 -- Potrero Planning Group Meeting, May 10, 2007 Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Planning Group members who voted for the project are served with recall paperwork. (3 Parts)
(ECC03May2007) 2007-05-03 -- Lawsuit filed against Potrero group, county Miriam Raftery, East County Californian,
(M277) 2007-05-02 -- Jeremy Scahill presents 'Blackwater' in La Mesa, Ca. May 2, 2007 Jeremy Scahill, Citizens Oversight,
(M289) 2007-05-02 -- Jeremy Scahill in Potrero Jeremy Scahill, Citizens Oversight,
(M17) 2007-04-26 -- Blackwater executive joins Romney in presidential campaign Associated Press, Fayetteville Observer, We won't vote for Romney, will we!
(M13) 2007-04-19 -- Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Rep. Bob Filner, Raymond Lutz, Blackwater Plans for New Military Facility Near San Diego Draws Fire From Residents, Peace Activists and Local Congressmember Democracy Now,
(M15) 2007-04-19 -- Media Committee, Democrats Oppose Plans for Paramilitary Camp in Potrero: Party Votes to Protect East County Preserve from Blackwater Development San Diego Democratic Party,
(M291) 2007-04-19 -- Video tour to Blackwater Site Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M145) 2007-04-13 -- Blackwater scraps Philippines center, hits snags in California Bill Sizemore, Virginian Pilot,
(M3) 2007-04-05 -- Blackwater Scoping Meeting at San Diego County DPLU, April 5, 2007 (complete) Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M294) 2007-02-15 -- Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books,
(M293) 2006-10-08 -- Iraq for Sale Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films, [ Screened 2006-10-15 and 25 Mar 2007 at Rancho San Diego Library. No longer have the DVD.]
(M290) 2006-09-25 -- , The Tale of Prince - A War Profiteer Brave New Films,
(M70) 2006-05-08 -- Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater Jeremy Scahill, The Nation,
(M292) 2005-06-21 -- Martin Smith, PBS Front Line, details the March 31, 2004 Blackwater catastrophe and describes the general situation with private security contractors in Iraq.
Private Warriors (M153) 2004-06-24 -- Paul Bremer, Coalition Provisional Authority, This is the "gift" by Paul Bremer to all the contractors as he left the Iraqi theater.
Order #17 of L. Paul Bremer regarding Iraqi law immunity
Recent Articles and Media:
(M1959) 2020-11-14 -- A Brief History of Citizens' Oversight Projects Ray Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M1570) 2015-04-14 -- Spencer Hsu, BLACKWATER GUARDS SENTENCED IN DEATHS -- Men deny guilt in killing of 14 unarmed civilians in Baghdad traffic circle in 2007 Union Tribune,
(M1511) 2014-10-23 -- Coalition Moves to Stay San Onofre Settlement to “clean house” of corruption at the CPUC Ray Lutz, Citizens Oversight Coalition To Decommission San Onofre,
(M1460) 2014-05-29 -- , THE RISE OF THE OLIGARCHS Empire interview with Erik Prince Al Jazeera, Features Erik Prince
(M1438) 2014-05-13 -- RATEPAYER ADVOCATES TO SPEAK ON $3.3 BILLION SAN ONOFRE BAILOUT OF GIDDY UTILITY INVESTORS Ray Lutz, Coalition To Decommission San Onofre,
(M1356) 2013-05-02 -- Jeremy Scahill on 'Dirty Wars' in San Diego Jeremy Scahill, Citizens Oversight, Video by Ryan Anderson and Ray Lutz
(M1260) 2012-05-08 -- Imperial County Board of Supervisors Rescind Approval of Wind Zero (AKA Coyote Wells) Project Ray Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Conclusion of Wind Zero project is feather in the hat of People Against Wind Zero (PAWZ) and Citizens Oversight
(M1237) 2012-02-02 -- Judge rules training center eviction was legal J Harry Jones, Union Tribune,
(M1837) 2011-10-10 -- Tribe wants training center off reservation J Harry Jones, Union Tribune,
(M1175) 2011-09-10 -- Eagle Rock Training Center Should be Shut Down Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, References Michael Aguirre
(M1173) 2011-05-26 -- , News 8,
News 8 takes rare tour inside Eagle Rock Training Center - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB (M1167) 2011-05-15 -- Mark Mazzetti, Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder New York Times,
(M1166) 2011-05-14 -- Afghanistan: The Internet is Mightier than the Bullet Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, Afghanistan War
(M1164) 2011-05-09 -- , Middle East Monitor, Meshaal told to choose between committing to Quartet's conditions and Bin Laden's fate Bin Laden Capture
(M1162) 2011-05-02 -- Bin Laden Dead Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight,
(M1158) 2011-04-23 -- Marines, SEALs confirm training on Indian reservation J Harry Jones, Union Tribune, Blackwater Los Coyotes, Includes promotional video
(M1159) 2011-04-23 -- James Risen, Ex-Blackwater Guards Face Renewed Charges New York Times, Case was in arbitration but recently abandoned due to lack of funds. BW mers were given immunity by govt (state dept) akin to episode on '24' before they could testify.
(M1152) 2011-04-14 -- Military training facility on Indian reservation is revealed J Harry Jones, Union Tribune, Blackwater Los Coyotes
(M1148) 2011-02-24 -- , Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan,
At what risk? Correcting over-reliance on contractors in contingency operations (M1129) 2011-02-07 -- Kanya D Almeida, Virtual Warfare Escalates on US-Mexico Border Truth Out,
All - This page contains all the news media about Blackwater that has been submitted to the site. Some media that is very important was recently submitted to the site but has an earlier publication date... You can find it here.
Blackwater News Media
Back Country Land Trust of the San Diego Conservation Resources Network
Gunfire Noise Analysis - Our attempt to critique the "computer Model" of the gunfire analysis
DPLU_Notification_List_0766_001.pdf: List of people notified by DPLU of the project
Paramilitary Camps - Various paramilitary and lethal force camps
Covert Canyon - discovered in May, and County stopped operation. Was Blackwater behind exposing this (competitor) facility? Perhaps. There is certainly less need for shooting ranges, etc. if Covert Canyon was already in operation.
Wind Zero - New proposal in the Imperial valley, just after the split of I-8 and 98.
Procinctu Group - "The Ranch" -- Camp in riverside.
Paramilitary Law - Laws that restrict the formation of private armies withing the US.
Suitable Locations For Training - Existing or closed military bases may be more suitable for training. (This whole topic assumes you think private training camps is a smart idea. Most people I talk with don't, for many reasons.)
Williamson Act - The California Land Conservation Act, better known as the Williamson Act, has been the state’s premier agricultural land protection program since its enactment in 1965. The Round Potrero Valley is protected by such a contract
Backcountry Revitalization Violates Brown Act - Latest on our interaction with Sup. Dianne Jacob regarding censorship of public comments at this May 18th meeting in Camp.
Shooting Closure on Public Lands in San Diego County, CA (Federal Register: November 4, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 213)) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is permanently closing 320 acres of public land near La Posta, southern San Diego County, California, to recreational target shooting.
NOTE: COMMENTS ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED. THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN STOPPED. THIS SECTION HERE FOR REFERENCE ONLY.
The Department of Planning and Land use has requested comments. Send email to: email@example.com and those will be incorporated into the report. Or, click here: Stop Blackwater Web Petition and we'll make sure it gets submitted in as many places as possible.
Mail in your comments and letters: This is a bit better as it will show additional effort on your part. (However, detailed comment on the EIR is better left till after they complete it). Send to:
Project manager: Jarrett Ramaiya, firstname.lastname@example.org 858-694-3015
Project Designators: P06-069, R06-019, AP 06-004, Log No. 06-20-001
Lead agency name and address: County of San Diego, Department of Planning and Land Use 5201 Ruffin Road, Suite B, San Diego, CA 92123-1666
From "Registered Lobbyists"
Clay, Nicole and Saathoff, Stephanie of Carpi & Clay
Are listed representing Blackwater USA. This is the same lobbying firm that represents the County of San Diego(?)