March 9, 2010

In the video clip below — a trailer for an upcoming episode of Comedy Central’s South Park — the ever mischievous Eric Cartman is allowed to sign-out 500 AK-47s.

South Park’s tongue-in-cheek episode is a take on an all-too-real incident involving the notorious mercenary group Blackwater.

In February, it was revealed during a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing that a Blackwater (now called Xe) subsidiary known as Paravant had checked out weapons from a U.S. military weapons storehouses using the cartoon character’s name.

On February 23, Spencer Ackerman wrote for The Washington Independent:

Employees of the CIA-connected private security corporation Blackwater diverted hundreds of weapons, including more than 500 AK-47 assault rifles, from a U.S. weapons bunker in Afghanistan intended to equip Afghan policemen, according to an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee. On at least one occasion, an individual claiming to work for the company evidently signed for a weapons shipment using the name of a “South Park” cartoon character. And Blackwater has yet to return hundreds of the guns to the military.

In May of 2009, drunken Paravant mercenaries opened fire on a car carrying four Afghan civilians, wounding two of them. The incident prompted the committee’s investigation.

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In September of 2007, Blackwater mercenaries killed eight civilians in Baghdad. In December 2008, the Justice Department announced they were charging five of the Blackwater employees, and ordered them to surrender themselves to the FBI. The case was ultimately dismissed.

In August 2009, it was learned that the CIA had contracted Blackwater in 2004 in a secret program to assassinate al-Qaeda operatives. The CIA did not bother to write up a formal contract with Blackwater for the assassination program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, according to The New York Times.

Obama’s CIA director, Leon Panetta, told Congress that the CIA had broken the law by not telling lawmakers about the program. In 2002, then vice president Dick Cheney told the CIA did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill al-Qaeda members.

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