Jeremy Scahill sparred with NBC political director Chuck Todd on Friday, forcefully criticizing journalists and lawmakers for treading lightly on Blackwater's recently-revealed misdeeds.
Newly declassified memos this week showed that the CIA hired Blackwater, a private military security company, years ago as part of an effort to kill senior Al-Qaeda officials and other designated terrorists.
Scahill, who has written a popular book about Blackwater, had scathing comments about the organization, calling it "Erik Prince's Christian supremacist fighting force to eliminate Muslims and destroy Islam globally, and then they bill taxpayers again for this killing that they're doing and they're not held to the same standard as soldiers."
"There are Iraqi and Afghan people that are forced to face down against them, when, I'm sorry, the US Congress does nothing to stop it," he continued, "and journalists have done nothing to hold the White House accountable now, Chuck, or under Bush. This has not been an issue and yet it constitutes more than half of the fighting force in Afghanistan."
Scahill singled out Todd, a fellow panelist on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher", for not taking the issue more seriously. "Chuck, you called it political cat-nip to talk about the CIA and Cheney's role in this, because it distracts from the important issues," he said. "This is a central issue and you called it cable cat-nip."
Here is video of Scahill singling out Todd:
Todd responded by alleging that even if journalists reported more vigorously on the issue, it was unlikely that the organization would ever be held accountable. He said it would turn into "a political food fight" where "Congress would not be able to get any prosecutions done," suggesting that Blackwater would inevitably find a way to get off the hook.
According to Scahill, Todd confronted him after the show. In an email to Salon's Glenn Greenwald, Scahill said the following:
Right as we walked off stage, he said to me "that was a cheap shot." I said "what are you talking about?" and he said "you know it." I then said that I monitor msm coverage very closely and asked him what was not true that I said on the show. He then replied: "that's not the point. You sullied my reputation on TV."
Jay Leno, also a guest on Maher's show, praised Scahill for his work on Blackwater but joked that it may be putting his life in danger. "Why are you still alive? Are you paranoid?" said Leno.