Helping Haiti: Keeping the 'Special' In Spec-Ops -- Part One

UPDATED: February 18th, 2010 -- 6:58 pm



The following interview contains misleading, erroneous, and/or fraudulent claims. The subject of the interview, Scott Witt, has come under massive scrutiny by the Special Forces community and has been revealed to not be a member of that vaunted, tight-knit group, as he claims. Adding to the heinous nature of this deception is that it is couched in the humanitarian effort to aid the people of Haiti – a matter that is near and dear to my heart.

I offer now my sincerest apology for having become the conduit for this ruse of Mr. Witt’s, (for which I alone take blame for not vetting him properly), and reaffirm my deep respect and admiration for all the true brave warriors who serve and have served our country.

I have recently become aware of The Stolen Valor Act, and of the pathetic presence of many ‘false heroes’, poseurs and impostors out there; attempting to steal for themselves some of the valor and honor that members of our Special Forces have so valiantly and courageously earned.

I truly find this despicable – and vow to join with members of this elite branch of the service, active or retired, who seek to expose, uncover and/or prosecute those who would fraudulently lay claim to a real soldier’s honor.

– Gary Graham, Feb. 18, 2010

-----END UPDATE

While in the process of raising funds to help shuttle doctors, nurses and medical supplies to Haiti, I hooked up with my friend director/producer Jeff Chamberlain. Sharing my interest in humanitarian concerns, and aware of my recent trip to Haiti with AirLift Haiti founder, Eric Haymes, Jeff introduced me to former Special Forces soldier Scott Witt. Scott had formed a rather amazing group of former spec-ops servicemen called Dark Horse Tactical. These guys had had a rather remarkable experience helping out in the Katrina disaster -- and now were trying to get 'tent cities' built in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jeff, Eric, and I had several conference calls to brainstorm the idea with Scott. And in an interest to see if Air Lift Haiti could partner up in a common-cause joint venture, I sat Scott down and talked to him about his plan to deliver immediate help and aid to the earthquake-ravaged people of Haiti.

Haiti 1



Gary Graham – Scott, tell me about your background and how it lead to your group, Dark Horse.

Scott Witt – Well, to tell you of my background is to tell you what Dark Horse is. Dark Horse was a call sign – it was my personal call sign, back in the day of my special forces [work].

GG – When was that, when did you serve?

SW – Everything I did in special forces was ‘black ops’. I first joined the Rangers back in 1987 and I was only with the Rangers for a year when I decided to join what was called 'the Cherokee’ at that time. They were a mixture of special forces. It was not just Rangers, it was Navy SEALs, it was Marines, it was everyone. And they’d take the best of the best…and create one unit. And that unit answered only to the Pentagon. And from that point forward, all we did was black ops. Nothing we ever did could be talked about from that point forward.

GG – Okay.

SW – So, anyway, the members of these types of groups…as we all kinda got shot up, and retired, and came home…and a lot of us now are heads of corporations…and serve as vice presidents of major banks…things like that all over the country. But we wanted to kinda stay together as a group and we wanted to make sure we always did something for the good. We got in to doing personal protection, as a group. And I formed Dark Horse Tactical. We did several things – for example, police officers, they get very little training when they come out of the academy. Even SWAT officers have training that’s very minimal, compared to what they could get. And the only reason teir training is so minimal is because the cities or the counties they work for won’t pay for [the advanced training].

GG – Tell me about some of the training you offered.

SW – One thing we started doing with Dark Horse was devoting our time… and training these guys for free… in weapon retention. Teaching them how to keep their weapons, if their weapon is in their hands and they get into a scuffle, what do you do in those situations… and we also taught them hand-to-hand combat, which was much more advanced than what they did in their normal training. And, in addition, we also did a lot of work with a lot of celebrities, dignitaries, escorting them here to there.

GG – You mentioned to me you'd been in Iraq. Did you work with any of the other private security groups there?

SW -- We did hook up with Blackwater for a short period of time when the war broke out to do a lot of consulting and security work with them…but when we started seeing how they were running their business and some of the stuff they were getting into..we pulled back. After we started seeing their practices, I just kinda nixed that right away.

GG –I understand your group Dark Horse had experiences with Katrina?

SW – As soon as Katrina hit, all my guys called up, and said “Hey what’re we gonna do, this looks like crap and we already know the [local] government’s not gonna do anything.” And I said, well let’s make some phone calls, and we started doing that – and we got a couple corporate people that gave us their helicopters and their pilots…and we just decided to gear up, and literally… rappel in. Because there was nowhere for the helicopter to land. We flew around for the first hour, picking sights. There were three teams of four…and what we ended up doing in Katrina…there were boats everywhere…so we literally rappelled down to boats, two guys per boat and just more or less commandeered the boats, and started running around rescuing people, getting people to dry land. And then we’d get them to a staging area, then the helicopter people would help us get them into the helicopter and then take them over to dry land. Because at the time there wasn’t the Superdome [in play] there wasn’t anything like that yet. So that’s what we were doing, trying to get the people out of the water and off the roofs…

GG – And was this within days of the levy’s breaking?

SW – Our first team hit the ground within 24 hours [of the levy's breaking]. And we were there for two weeks before any type of security or anyone else came in.

GG – Wow.

*SW – So Blackwater got the contract… to provide security… and CNN followed them around…and they were the ones putting the X’s on the doors and stuff… but Dark Horse was there before anybody. And then we went in and worked with the mayor…

GG – Mayor Nagin?

SW – Yeah. Went in there and cleared out the Superdome for him, secured that, made sure it was okay. There are several of us who are engineers on the team. So we went in quickly and assessed [the Superdome]. We got everybody in there, and asked if he wanted us to stick around… and he said, "No, the National Guard was on the way", and since we’d already spent all of our own money getting there, we pulled out. The only other thing we did was to assist the LDS Church to get their food and clothing in there cuz they had already sent food and clothing but there was nobody there to receive it or unload it. So we hurried and helicoptered it over to the Superdome and that was the very first food and water anybody got. So then we came home after that….and it wasn’t too long after that that they had the hurricane down in Texas. And we went down there on our own dime also…and helped out. Our count was that we got 157 individuals to dry land.

buses-katrinaHurricane Katrina



GG – Did you try to set up any kind of tents for the flood victims in Katrina?

SW – We gave a plan for setting up tents, securing them… We were told by the mayor that the Red Cross would come in and handle everything. And he was also told that the National Guard would come in and handle all that. And, as we all know, that never happened.

GG – Never happened. What was the story with the Red Cross? I'd think they would’ve descended immediately upon the area with their huge resources.

SW – Again, what they ended up doing was they shoved everyone into the Superdome…and that was it. I mean that was the only place you could go in to.

GG – And you guys offered to stick around and supply security for all that…and they turned you down?

SW – Absolutely.

GG – Wow. The stories coming out of that Superdome situation…were chilling.

SW - Yeah. They were horrible because the bathrooms…well obviously they wouldn’t flush. So people literally filled those bathrooms with waste. And then when the bathrooms were filled, they started filling the hallways with waste. When the hallways were filled they started filling the seating areas of the Superdome with waste.

GG – Whoa.

SW – Yeah. It was literally a dumping ground for disease.

GG – So that sort of answers my next question of … Why not go to the Red Cross for funding for the Haiti project.

SW – The Mayor of Port-au-Prince requested tents…and was turned down by the Red Cross. The Red Cross felt that that was a temporary band-aid…to waste money on. And they would focus on ‘building structures’.

GG – ‘Building structures..’ But that would take time. What do they do in the interim?

SW – We don’t know. Because the only thing that has ever showed up as far as temporary structures…were tarps. And I don’t know where those came from – I don’t know who supplied them. The one thing we do know is … the very first shipment from the Red Cross that came in on that tarmac…had kidney dialysis supplies.

GGKidney dialysis?

SW – Yeah.

GG – Wow…the very first shipment?

SW – To this day that stuff still sits on the tarmac.

GG – The kidney dialysis machines are still sitting on the tarmac?

SW – I don’t know if they’re machines…I was told it would be equipment to deal with kidney [ailments]…

GG – When I was there two-and-a-half weeks ago, I saw huge pallets sitting there on the tarmac…I can only speculate how long they’d been sitting there …or what they consisted of....

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NEXT UP: In the continuation of this 3-part interview Scott Witt reveals the bureaucratic roadblocks confronting him as he tries to get help to the desperate people of Haiti.

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