Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded, according to a new report from Congress.
In at least two cases, Blackwater paid victims’ family members who complained, and sought to cover up other episodes, the Congressional report said. It said State Department officials approved the payments in the hope of keeping the shootings quiet. In one case last year, the department helped Blackwater spirit an employee out of Iraq less than 36 hours after the employee, while drunk, killed a bodyguard for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents on Christmas Eve.
...the report is also harshly critical of the State Department for exercising virtually no restraint or supervision of the private security company’s 861 employees in Iraq. “There is no evidence in the documents that the committee has reviewed that the State Department sought to restrain Blackwater’s actions, raised concerns about the number of shooting episodes involving Blackwater or the company’s high rate of shooting first, or detained Blackwater contractors for investigation,” the report states.
State not only failed to restrain Blackwater contractor's actions, they actively aided and abetted them in getting away with some of their more egregious behavior:
According to [the report] the intoxicated Blackwater contractor shot and killed the guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi. Within two days of the incident, the department had allowed the contractor to leave the country and “recommended that Blackwater make a ‘sizeable payment’ and an ‘apology’ to ‘avoid this thing becoming even worse.’”
While at first a department official suggested payment of $250,000, it was later deemed that the sum was too high and a payment of $15,000 was agreed upon.
Blackwater's actions are one thing. They may be trigger-happy cowboys, but they are at least trying to do their job, which is protecting their clients. State is another matter entirely. Their job is to facillitate peace and reconciliation and further American interests in Iraq. None of this is accomplished when they hire contractors who shoot up civilians and try to cover their asses by hush-hushing killings by Blackwater contractors. Blackwater's cheif is before Congress today trying to conduct damage control, but it's far too late. It's time to reign Blackwater in, and heads should roll at State.