Blackwater choppered in twenty-six special ops–trained mercenaries on September 2, the next day. The operatives would secure all three Starwood properties in New Orleans—the Sheraton and two W hotels. They had originally planned to land on the roof of the Sheraton, but Katrina's hundred-mile-per-hour winds had left it littered with debris. So the Blackwater team landed by the river and proceeded to the hotel on foot, carrying their standard kit: communications equipment, body armor, semi-automatic sidearms, and automatic weapons.If these guys kill someone, anyone, even a looter, do they get prosecuted? My guess is no. That scares me.
It would have been an ordinary, even modest, deployment in Iraq. But this mission was extraordinary in that it was staged at the request of a major American hotelier in a major American tourist destination—a rare, bold, and sadly necessary move. "We felt that the Blackwater people were the only ones who would be effective," says King.
And while residents were not allowed back into their city to protect their property, these guys could land a helicopter full of mercenaries by the river and transport an arsenal through the streets of downtown to three hotels. That scares me, too.