Congressional investigation of Blackwater USA and attempts to block it
October 2, 2007 Leave a comment
The committee on Oversight and Government Reform made clear that hearings will commence on October 2, 2007 in regards to Blackwater USA, the private contractor used by our government in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Information gleaned from the Congressional letter which used various sources below:
Three key questions are to be addressed:
- Is Blackwater’s presence advancing or undermining US Efforts in Iraq?
- Has the State Department responded appropriately to shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces?
- What are the costs for US taxpayers of the reliance on Blackwater and other military contractors?
Of interest is some new information the committee states it has acquired:
- Blackwater Shooting Incidents. Incidents reports compiled by Blackwater reveal that Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 “escalation of force” incidents in Iraq since 2005 that involved the firing of shots by Blackwater forces. This is an average of 1.4 shooting incidents per week. In over 80% of the escalation of force incidents since 2005, Blackwater’s own reports document either causalities or property damage. Many of these had not previously been reported and in one incident Blackwater forces shot a civilian bystander in the head. In another, State Department officials report Blackwater sought to cover up a shooting that killed an apparently innocent bystander.
- State Department Responses. Documents provided by the State Department raise serious questions about how State Department officials responded to reports of Blackwater killings of Iraqis. In a high-profile incident in December 2006, a drunken Blackwater contractor killed the guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi. Within 36 hours after the shooting, the state department had allowed Blackwater to transport the Blackwater contractor out of Iraq. The Charge d’ Affaires suggested a $250,000 payment to the guards family, but the Department’s Diplomatic Security Service said this was too much and could cause Iraqis to “try to get killed.
- Cost to Taxpayers. Using Blackwater instead of US troops to protect embassy officials is expensive. Blackwater charges the government $1,222 per day for the services of a private military contractor. This is equivalent to $445,000 per year, over six times more than the cost of an equivalent US soldier. In total Blackwater has received over $1 billion in federal contracts from 2001 through 2006, including more than $832 million under two contracts with the State Department to provide protective services in Iraq.
Historical information from the Congressional document reveals:
Blackwater USA, based in Moyock, North Carolina, was established in 1997 and has grown to become one of the world’s largest providers of private military services, offering a diverse range of services including personal security details, military training services, aviation support, K-9 services, and its own line of armored vehicles. Prior to the war in Iraq, the company primarily offered training services for law enforcement and military personnel. But during the past six years, the business has expanded and diversified to include private military contracting.
Blackwater’s government contracts have grown exponentially during the Bush Administration, particularly since the start of the war in Iraq. Blackwater went from having government contracts worth less than a million dollars in 2001 to contracts worth more than half a billion dollars in 2006.
Blackwater is owned by Erik Prince. Mr. Prince is a former Navy SEAL who owns the company through a holding company, The Prince Group, LLC. In the late 1980’s Mr. Prince served as a White House intern under George H.W. Bush. Mr. Prince’s father was a prominent Michigan businessman and contributor to conservative causes. Mr. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party who earned the title of Bush-Cheney “Pioneer” by arranging at least $100,000 in donations for the 2004 George W Bush presidential campaign. Her Husband, Richard DeVos Jr., is a former Amway CEO and was the Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan. Mr. Prince himself is a frequent political contributor, having made over $225,000 in political contributions, including more than $160,000 to the Republican National Committee and the Republican Congressional Committee.
The information listed above comes from a 15 page document released October 1, 2007 by the Congress of the United States, House of Representatives Committee On Oversight and Government Resources and list various resources for the information within the document.
Is this how the citizens of the USA want to have their tax dollars spent, one would think that the US military would handle all of the security issues in Iraq and Afghanistan and not private contractors.
The war in the Middle East is already lost and is costing hundreds of billions of dollars and untold death, destruction and despair for all parties involved. When will the carnage end in a war started with dubious intelligence and for what end, Oil and permanent Military bases in Middle Eastern countries?
Remember if the USA has not put permanent military installations in Saudi Arabia the Twin Towers would probably still adorn the New York skyline. If the bases had not been created on Saudi land then the one called Osama bin Laden would have not targeted the US for this perceived intrusion on what he deems is Arab land and the bases an affront to Allah.
For the record I do not condone the senseless killing of any human being by either terrorists or any other entity. Osama bin Laden should be hunted down like a dog and killed but at what cost?