Around lunchtime on February 23, I attended an embargoed briefing for a couple reporters in Carl Levin’s office. Levin wanted to share the results of an investigation his Senate Armed Services Committee staff launched into Blackwater’s operations in Afghanistan. He distributed a document summarizing the investigation, a couple double-sided pages long, and I read through it as we waited for Levin to get started. Something caught my eye on the top of the sixth page, describing Blackwater signing out hundreds of AK-47s from a U.S. military weapons depot: “Receipts show that the guns were issued to an ‘Eric Cartman’…” I was seated near my friend Tim Starks, who reports on security issues for CQ. Holy shit dude, I whispered to him, look at page six!

Levin gave some brief remarks introducing his findings but didn’t mention Cartman. I raised my hand and asked him if Blackwater actually used the name of a ‘South Park’ character to sign for the guns. Levin, bless him, appeared to be unfamiliar with ‘South Park,’ a sign that the universe works as it is supposed to. His staffers suppressed grins and calmly pointed out that no one with the name ‘Eric Cartman’ has ever worked for Blackwater, and I was free to draw my own conclusions. At 9 p.m. on the dot, when the embargo lifted, I went live with a report on Blackwater, leading with Cartman and featuring a giant picture of him.

And now this is happening.


It’s a good day. Eat your heart out, Sullivan!