Monday, June 30, 2014

How To Stop An Investigation

Blackwater, the military contractor hired by the U.S. government to help them in Iraq, has had a problematic relationship with the people that hired them.  The New York Times has found that not only did they lack oversight and on occasion killed people, they also threatened to kill anyone who ratted them out about their misconduct.

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”

His memo and other newly disclosed State Department documents make clear that the department was alerted to serious problems involving Blackwater and its government overseers before the Nisour Square shooting, which outraged Iraqis and deepened resentment over the United States’ presence in the country.

With friends like that…

2 barks and woofs on “How To Stop An Investigation

  1. This so called company, owned by a guy named Eric Prince, made billions or robbed us of billions. There was no oversight of this bunch; they turned their backs on rape victims, killed lots of people and no one went to jail. Almost sounds like the Wall St. melt down.

    • And it’s not as if there was a substantial threat to Blackwater’s operations there, either: the Custer Battles decision took care of that.

      Custer Battles was actually taken to court (in Iraq and the US) – and successfully argued that a) as a US enterprise they weren’t bound by Iraqi law and b) as a contractor to the provisional authority they weren’t subject to sanction because the provisional authority wasn’t the US government.

      So not only was there pitiful oversight, the oversight was judged unenforceable on both sides.

      Remind me again how much better, more effective, more efficient and more appropriate the private sector is over the public one. (/snark)

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