Blackwater USA, a military training organization-cum-private army that’s been the subject of controversy over its role as a private contractor in Iraq, just opened a training facility near Mount Carroll, a town on the Mississippi River west of Rockford. The company was founded in 1996 by Erik Prince, an automobile-parts scion and former navy SEAL who named the company after the black water on its grounds in North Carolina, and not, apparently, in an attempt to make it sound as sinister as possible.

ABC7 has an ominous-sounding report on the matter, but even as a paranoid lefty I had to take it with a grain of salt. Blackwater claims the facility is for law-enforcement training only; ABC7 cites a skeptical local teacher who believes otherwise: “[Dan] Kenney says what he saw, and was told, leads him to believe that Blackwater will eventually conduct military commando training in Illinois.”

After a bit of poking around I found an account by Kenney of his trip to “Blackwater North,” which doesn’t contain any convincing evidence that Blackwater will be doing military training in the state, much less become a “training facility for the most powerful mercenary army in the world,” as Kenney writes.

There are plausible suggestions that Blackwater could be running afoul of the zoning codes it was grandfathered in under, so it’s probably worth at least keeping an eye on. If you’re among those skeptical of Blackwater, the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army is speaking in DeKalb on May 15. On the other hand, if you’re down with their presence, you can take one of their many training courses.

(h/t Pandagon