Jeremy Scahill

Before September 2007, big media didn’t have any interest in Jeremy Scahill. Then 17 Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater guards in Baghdad. “On September 17, the day after the Nisour Square Massacre, I woke up at about 10 o’clock in the morning,” says Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. “I had 23 missed calls.” All the big names were vying for time from the reporter who’d been reporting about private security company Blackwater for notable outlets like The Nation and Democracy Now! since 2004. “By noon I was live on CNN, and that kicked off a month of being on all of these shows that systematically ignore anti-war voices,” he says.

But these guys weren’t the only ones who had been clueless. Before Nisour Square, Scahill had his findings questioned by Mr. Mess O’ Potamia himself. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart more or less asked what could be wrong with paying some guys to do a job nobody else wanted to do. A couple months later, he got his answer and — somewhat — apologized about his oversight. Scahill was at a bar when suddenly he saw himself on the show again. “We saw the flashback of me sitting there on the Stewart show, and then Jon Stewart saying, ‘Sometimes it just goes to show that I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about,’” Scahill says. The next day Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman issued a public call for Stewart to invite Scahill back on. “He never did,” says Scahill, but adds that his goal isn’t to go around issuing I-told-you-so’s.

Scahill believes tragedies like Nisour show why the military shouldn’t be privatized. He’s touring to support the recent paperback release of Blackwater, which has more than 100 new pages. “They call this thing a book tour, but I very much view it as a campaign to try to raise awareness and get people to take action on what I think is the premiere issue of our time when it comes to issues of war and peace,” says Scahill. 7 p.m. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main. For tickets and information, call 713-526-4000 or visit $10 to $20.
Wed., June 25, 7 p.m., 2008

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Dusti Rhodes
Contact: Dusti Rhodes