MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
heavily armed and masked guards have been removed from an exploratory mine in northern Wisconsin, but it appears only temporarily. The use of disguised, camouflaged "security consultants" with high-powered weaponry has raised concerns in the Badger State, as two state legislators officially raised objections to their prescence.According to The Chippewa Harold,
Talking Points Memo (TPM) also wrote an article simply entitled, "Rent-a-Paramilitaries Freak Out Wisconsin":
There's been a battle royale up in Wisconsin over an effort to establish a big iron mining operation near Lake Superior, to be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. The Republican legislature approved the mine in March over environmentalists’ objections. Some protests have been staged since the operation got started. But people started to get freaked out over the weekend when the company brought in what the Wisconsin State Journal calls “masked security guards who are toting semi-automatic rifles and wearing camouflaged uniforms.”
Gogebic Taconite "is conducting test drillings for an eventual 4½-mile-long open-pit iron ore mine." Environmental protests have been continuing against the mine, including a June "flash mob" romp through the work site.
TPM Editor Josh Marshall has personally been following the story and identifies the "security" firm as Bulletproof Securities, headquartered in Arizona. Its website, Marshall notes, brags of its role in Mexican border security and lists its capabilities as including:
"BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”
If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.” [Wisconsin Governor Scott "Crush the Unions" Walker must be salivating to hire Bulletproof Securities.]
The State of Wisconsin yesterday temporarily forced Bulletproof Securities to leave the mining property because it does not have a state permit. But The Chippewa Herald cites a Gogebic Taconite spokesperson as saying that Bulletproof will be back, and that in the meantime another security (mercenary force) will be hired.
Josh Marshall makes the point: "Now masked guards in camouflage carrying assault rifles do seem a bit more mid-80s Latin American death squad than protecting some mining equipment in Wisconsin."
Marshall is a superb political analyst, but he has his dating of paramilitary units in South America caught in a time warp. Currently, it is quite common south of the US border for the mining "extraction industry" to use armed guards to scare off and shoot protesters in Latin American nations. This is particularly true for the relatively large number of mining operations owned by Canadian firms south of the border.
So what is happening in northern Wisconsin with mercenary personnel is not that different from what is happening to locals who see mines as contaminating their drinking water, polluting their environment, and despoiling their land in Latin America.
The only difference is that no one has been shot in the area near Lake Superior by a paramilitary squad, not yet that is.