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Nation Article Gets Positive Results on Blackwater, So Let’s Celebrate, Okay?

Alter Net (2008-03-01) Jane Hamsher

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By Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake Posted on March 1, 2008

One of the reasons we haven't endorsed during the presidential primary, as we've said often times, is because we want to be able to push candidates on issues that are important to us. Yesterday the Nation did just that when it published an article by Jeremy Scahill (author of the superb book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army) on the fact that Barack Obama would not rule out the use of mercenaries like Blackwater in Iraq.

So after the article's publication, Hillary Clinton announced that she would co-sponsor legislation to "ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq." Which, when you write a piece like this, is exactly what you want to have happen -- it's what John Edwards did for the issue of poverty the entire time he was in the race. It shines a bright light on the issue, raises it to the level where people start paying attention to it, and puts pressure on others to do follow your lead.

So this is Scahill's update:

Her timing was interesting, to say the least. Why February 28, in the middle of a tough political campaign? Why not after last September's Nisour Square massacre, when Blackwater operatives killed seventeen Iraqi civilians? Or, better, before it?

WTF? What, the article didn't snare the politician they wanted? Mr. Carrot, please meet Mr. Stick.

As Naomi Klein says today at the Huffington Post:

[N]ow is the time when candidates are most open to pressure. For instance, Hillary Clinton just announced that she will co-sponsor legislation to ban the use of private military companies -- exactly one day after my Nation colleague Jeremy Scahill revealed that both Clinton and Obama were poised to let the mercenaries stay in Iraq even if the troops come home. Pushing candidates on the issues during a campaign can have a real impact, so can we please move beyond superfandom?

Sending the wrong message to politicians who respond positively and do what you ask them to do makes it difficult for online activists who are going to keep doing this long after this election is over. If politicians are going to be greeted like this for their efforts, what's the upside for them?

Alter Net is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

Jane Hamsher is the founder of Fire Dog Lake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect.

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Title Nation Article Gets Positive Results on Blackwater, So Let’s Celebrate, Okay?
Publisher Alter Net
Author Jane Hamsher
Pub Date 2008-03-01
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Note Contains Blackwater video
Keywords Blackwater, Election2008
Media Type Linked Article
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Topic revision: r1 - 21 Mar 2008, CathyMiller
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