Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Scahill Reports: "Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder"

Jeremy Scahill reports in The Nation that two sworn affadavits have been filed in a federal suit at Eastern District of Virginia accusing Erik Prince, owner and founder of the notorious contracting agency, Blackwater, of murder, weapons trafficking, destruction of evidence, and basically organizing his own holy war against Muslims in the Middle East.

There is so much that is fantastic and shocking in the article that I won't attempt to summarize it here, but strongly encourage following the link to read the entire thing. The article notes carefully that The Nation "cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases." Apparently these sources, who remain anonymous for presumed fear for their lives, have also cooperated with federal officials persuing criminal charges against the well-linked Blackwater company. (Its vice chairman since 2005 is former Director of Operations at the CIA, and in 1999 Counter-Terrorism Cener Director, J. Cofer Black.)

Excerpted below is a section of the article that describes how Blackwater ignored warnings from mental health professionals that they were sending mentally unbalanced agents into the field. Even more, when there were protests, the whistleblowers were suppressed. A member of the intelligence community confirmed to me that the contractor issue had been a matter of some dissent within the IC, and that it was known that unfit contractors, many of them former Special Forces personnel, were deployed by companies such as Blackwater, but also by foreign security companies.
Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men." He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money."

Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or "seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Bravo to Jeremy Scahill and The Nation for breaking this important story. A list of security contracting companies doing business in Iraq as of 2004 can be accessed at this page, posted by

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