The following is fiction. The previous entry was Pork is for Terrorists.
Dateline - March 12, 2010, JBC HQ in the Gulf of Mexico
Geraldine Blaine reporting for her own blog and interviewing Sgt. Alex Corrida (ret.) CEO of "The Jolly Black Crew" on their floating headquarters.
Geraldine: Thank you for having me here and agreeing to let me interview Sgt. Corrida.
Alex Corrida: My pleasure, Ms. Blaine and please, it is Mr. Corrida or Alex.
GB: Thank you, Mr. Corrida. Let me start with some background questions, first. Just why did you form up "The Jolly Black Crew"?
AC: Well, Ms. Blaine, after the 1/11 attacks in Chicago and Denver it was pretty evident that al Qaeda was ramping up its lethality even after its number of supporters had gone down. They demonstrated that they were intent on killing Americans and destroying the Nation and putting a death toll that added three zeros on to the end of the 9/11 tally showed that resolve.
GB: How do you view the response taken to that?
AC: Mixed, at best. The Congress was frozen in place and could not budge and there was no coherent Foreign Policy in place by either the outgoing or incoming Administrations. The trail led through Mexican drug gangs, Hezbollah and FARC in Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, Bosnia, Russia, Turkey, and then in various directions all of which led to places that were distributed wide enough to stop any attempt by the Federal Government at shutting down such operations. That was not a pleasant period in American history.
GB: No, it wasn't, I lost a cousin in the Death of Chicago and my brother-in-law in attack on Denver.
AC: My condolences, Ma'am. It seems that just about every American knew someone or had friends if not relatives involved, sometimes just business associates. That brought it home that these Enemies would not stop.
GB: More than just al Qaeda, Mr. Corrida?
AC: Yes, Ma'am, far more than any single terrorist organization. What we have spent time tracking down via the commercial end and with agreements for work-sharing with DoD, DoJ, Treasury and DoS is more than any of them could figure out on their own. Plus we have some commercial backers in the large-scale data warehousing business that have helped to back and verify this. It is a complex web of interactions that run deep into criminal, commercial and corrupt governments on a global basis.
GB: Can you give me an example that will not endanger your operations, Mr. Corrida?
AC: Sure! We knew from after 9/11 that Hezbollah was installing commercial and criminal operatives into North America, and DoJ brought many of them in on lesser charges to get them out of circulation. Those connections to Mexican drug gangs, the Triads and South American drug lords were just the start. From there we have documented connections between drug lords, commercial transport companies, front companies across the globe but centering in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Morocco to name a few places. These companies then trans-ship at multiple ports and shift either overland or to further companies downstream. Even with the tracking system envisioned by Homeland Security post-9/11, stuff gets through because of this.
GB: And National involvement in those countries?
AC: That varies from simple low level corruption of inspectors and dock workers to higher level breaches in various Interior Ministries in different Nations. No Nation will outright support terrorist activities like that, but the unstated 'look the other way for pay' is rampant.
GB: Is that it?
AC: No Ma'am, there are corrupt regimes that have put further technical services to work for various terrorist organizations. The problem is that expertise and equipment then filters outwards via group to group associations and contacts both into the terrorist realm and into the organized crime realm. That is why police have been seeing an up-arming of drug gangs and mafia over the past few years: they are sharing resources, INTEL and training with terrorist organizations. Both are benefiting from this.
GB: That is a lot to try and keep track of!
AC: Yes it is, Ma'am. Which is why the Federal Government failed the People of the United States in this. Bureaucracies cannot handle this as a War Time situation. The US wanted to blinker itself even after 9/11 that the People of the United States were the target, not just the Nation. That changed after 1/11.
GB: It did, but it took time, didn't it, Mr. Corrida?
AC: Lots of time, Ma'am, yes. Congress looked at the very basics being put before it and realized that this was a different kind of fight than a regular World War. The depth of corruption and exploitation and degradation of normal society, normal trade and normal diplomacy had so ingrained the terrorist problem that not only could no Nation or set of Nations be held at fault, but that there was literally not enough manpower to go to war in the old way. Conscription would not do it, especially with the economic shock of losing two cities. Congress, the Presidents... no one had a way out. For awhile it looked like the death of America and soon the death of civilization.
GB: Do you think what they did is a way out of that, Mr. Corrida?
AC: Not a way out, Ma'am. It is a way forward. When Congress was forced to look at empty seats that would never be filled again and the downward spiral that was starting they had their noses rubbed in the fact that the United States was failing because they had failed us. It took a few firebrands to finally get the fire lit and two very courageous Congressmen actually rose up and read the Constitution in the House and Senate on the same day. Particularly Article I and the War Powers given to Congress. Then the screaming started.
GB: That was an interesting time in American Politics, wasn't it?
AC: It was. The Nation was set to crumble then, with some municipalities saying they would declare secession from the Union if anything went forward. Very close to an open Civil War. But the legislation did pass and the United States finally exercised the full set of War Powers.
GB: You seemed to be ready for that, Mr. Corrida. How were you so prepared to step up so quickly? Did you have any inside sources?
AC: No, Ma'am, no inside sources. My brother and I and a few friends took a look at the radioactive crater that was in the heart of what was Denver and the rotting bodies still being pulled out of buildings in Chicago, and started to scope out what was needed when the Black Days of Congress hit. We saw the light being offered and started the old 'friend of a friend' networking. We got some initial interest from a large company or two once Congress got to the Bounty and Auction parts, and started to cement deals then. We put a provisional inquiry to an oil company because we needed something outside territorial waters and yet had the full suite of necessities to run this operation. We filled out a few niches here and there, got things solidified and the day the paperwork went on the 'net we had it filled out: Application 0001.
GB: Your funding scheme was... evocative, wasn't it?
AC: Irregular, yes. We put up how many shares would be put up, what they represented as non-voting shares, what we were aiming for in the way of initial needs and then put those up on eBay, first as blocks of 10 and then singly. We were... surprised and gratified at the response.
GB: Everyone was surprised, I think. Still for only a piece of being an active member for your Crew, the chance to get some of the Prize money Congress offered was out of proportion with what the financial community expected. That did help you, didn't it?
AC: Certainly! The Congress by finally putting up the historical Auction part suddenly made this entire enterprise a real paying concern, if and when we could get the first real prize. We go by 'equal shares' and those two share equivalents would be divided into those shares that were bought. Plus the money comes tax-free, which is a big bonus. The naysayers had expected standard bounty hunter types working with shoestring operations which would get the Nation into trouble. We weren't *that* by any means and a number of applications after ours were rejected as they were not sustainable. The financial community quivered at the 'takings clauses', but the DoJ was forthright in showing what was and was not evidence as well as DoD. That left open a good sized window to have either accept any taking on either the pure commerce interdiction or War commerce interdiction.
GB: You don't go after individuals, do you?
AC: That is incorrect, Ma'am. We have a number of retired FBI and civil police agents that have brought in individuals from Somalia, Egypt, Indonesia, and Columbia. A few of them pretty high up in their operations, too. We try to keep those to low-level jobs and always try to get the most 'bang for the buck' by getting as much of the targeted material and personnel at one place at one time. We most certainly do go after anyone or any organization listed on the full list of Enemies that have attacked the United States, its Embassies, its Foreign Service personnel or its Regular Armed Forces.
GB: How do you fit into Treaties and laws?
AC: We are a Civilian Privateer operation, Ma'am. We give notification to DoD and DoS when we are planning to execute an operation and carry it out. They get 4 hours of warning so that any leaks do *not* get back to potential targets and if they do we can help track where that leak came from. At that time we fall under the UCMJ for most operations and follow the normal Rules of War with the amended Privateer sections in play. We have uniforms, fly the flag, show our unit insignia, and are held accountable via the Laws of the United States for our operations. Mind you, some parts of past Treaties had to be nullified and we filed a few inquiries with the Supreme Court to get rulings on various parts of the Geneva Conventions and other Treaties. For all personnel and equipment captured we hold to the UCMJ on those and seek the official ruling of the DoJ and DoD on those captures, with personnel that show up on the listing going to either organization for holding, prosecution or internment. Once that is done and the certification is finished, the organization moves back to its Civil mode of operations.
GB: That sounds complex!
AC: Not really as we do our best to compartment operations so that there is only limited exposure and for security reasons.
GB: Your company has purchased a lot of equipment from the Government, hasn't it, Mr. Corrida?
AC: Yes, Ma'am. Most of it is on the War Time Rejuvenation bill that allows Privateers to purchase over-age uniforms, equipment and such at very low cost. Some of the larger vessels and aircraft are on a rental basis per year, and are all overage for use and not considered to be modern enough for the Regular Armed Forces. We do spruce them up a bit with modern electronics, communications and weapons.
GB: That part caused a lot of anguish in Congress, the allowing of Privateers to use old equipment.
AC: Anguish wasn't the word for it, Ma'am. Near fistfights in the House at least once! But, the United States had purchased that equipment to defend the Nation against its foes and if folks like us could put it back into service for same, well, a penny a ton rental isn't too bad. We went after a couple of the smaller Vietnam vintage surface vessels and we are more than happy to pay out to Vets who want to care for that equipment. Still, that was pay-for renovation, not permanent hires although maintenance is now getting to be an issue and we may offer a full time alliance to one or more of those companies.
GB: You aren't just Privateers, are you, Mr. Corrida?
AC: No, Ma'am. We are a full search/rescue/salvage operation now along with goods recovery. We ensure all contracts go through DoS, DoJ and DoD so as to not infringe on our Privateer status, but even Privateers did regular business during War. So do we, and we try to combine some operations so that multiple customers can be satisfied simultaneously.
GB: That is a strange way to look at the Federal Government... a customer?
AC: Yes, Ma'am. They have requirements to be met, things to do and Letters of Marque and Reprisal issued and we know what it takes to fulfill those expectations. If they aren't satisfied not only do we not get the Bounty, but we are criminally liable for the operations. It is a very rought business.
GB: You aren't the only group of Privateers. How do you not get in each other's way?
AC: Operationally we let each other know our areas of interest. We have worked out a sharing system for some things, like criminal data tracking, so that those implicated in purely civil crimes but with ties to terrorist and other hostile organizations can be tracked. We have agreed, amongst us, to let a Third Party send warnings of Operational Conflicts that would hurt any of us. They serve as an intermediary and deconfliction group.
GB: That's TRW, isn't it?
AC: I'm not at liberty to say, Ma'am.
GB: It is an open secret that they have been supporting you and other Privateers. Their income figures show that.
AC: Ma'am, we actually have a distributed third party system, so no one company is the whole nor entirety of the deconfliction and INTEL gathering. I cannot tell you who they are until they make public statements and they have not, so I keep to my side of the bargain and contract.
GB: I see... Mr. Corrida, do you only depend on Veterans here?
AC: No, Ma'am. Only about 20% of the Crew has served in the Armed Forces and a similar amount in various police agencies. The rest are people who do not or cannot fight for their Nation in normal ways. We have people that have been crippled from birth, people that have fled tyrannies, people that are not acceptable to the Armed Forces or police for various reasons, but are fully acceptable to us for what we need them to do.
GB: You have been termed 'mercenaries'. How would you address that, Mr. Corrida?
AC: We work on a provisional 'pay for performance' concept. All Privateers, without exception, are not paid until they have actually satisfied their Letters of Marque and Reprisal and that has been certified. It is purely contingency fee based on performance. Mercenaries are for hire to the highest bidder. We don't get paid until we actually get the job done either at set fee by Congress or via Auction of captured goods. We are American Citizens working for our Nation in the Privateer realm to fight a nasty War and as a private company in other areas. You cannot *buy* our allegiance.
GB: What has been your greatest challenge so far?
AC: That is a tough one to answer, Ma'am. We are lucky to have a friend or two higher up in the oil business who came on to help sort out the entire running of this as a business and get us into a pile of debt with contingency sudden-payoff clauses and such. That was a legal nightmare. Operating out here so that we can be freely armed and defend ourselves has also required that we be integrated into the aircraft tracking and monitoring system due to our area of defense...
GB: Your what?
AC: We have capability to defend our Headquarters, Ma'am. From aerial, seaborne and underwater attack. We have an interdiction zone and any ship or aircraft that is not a certified part of the US tracked system is considered hostile until they demonstrate otherwise. To date we have stopped two drug gang attacks from surface vessels and one airborne attack. You can check the media files as we did report those to DoS, DoJ and DoD along with evidence of self-defense. Took us awhile to get the bomb casing fragments from the aircraft debris as the water is pretty deep here.
GB: Actual attacks?
AC: Yes, Ma'am. We defend the Nation by carrying out War Letters and expect to be hated and attacked because of that. We did not want to be restricted by being inside the US or its territorial waters, so we came out here where we can act autonomously for defending ourselves.
GB: What do you see as the future of your company?
AC: We would like to go out of business one day on the Privateer side as we can keep things running from other operations now. But we don't expect that to happen. Going after the Sicilian Mafia not only didn't end it, but didn't end organized crime. Terrorists operate in the same way, except that they use illegitimate ways of war to try and win for their beliefs. They are so distributed and their teachings always gathering a few followers that I can't see ever having an end to them. That said, I want them to know that if they want to actually target the US that THEY get put in our sights, too. And that of all the other Privateers standing up to defend the Nation. We can't eliminate the trade or corruption, but we can be the steel wool scrubbing it off and sometimes completely in an area or two.
GB: I thank you for your time and the interview, Mr. Corrida.
AC: You're welcome, Ms. Blaine. Let us know if you need a job. We need a good publicist for permanent hire. The pay isn't great until the Letters are executed. And then you can retire, unless you get the taste of it in you. Then it is damned hard to stop.
16 February 2007
The following is fiction. The previous entry was Pork is for Terrorists.