Blackwater Authorized $1 Million in Secret Payments to Silence Iraqi Officials

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To buy their silent support. The NYTimes:

Four former Blackwater executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then the company’s president, had approved the bribes, and the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where Blackwater maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Blackwater’s strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. They said that Cofer Black, who was then the company’s vice chairman and a former top C.I.A. and State Department official, learned of the plan from another Blackwater manager while he was in Baghdad discussing compensation for families of the shooting victims with United States Embassy officials.

It gives new resonance to Facing South’s ACORN, Blackwater accountability disparity:

On Oct. 4, 2007, following the adoption of an amendment designed to ensure the action would not interfere with U.S. intelligence, the House passed Price’s bill by a vote of 389 to 30.

If we look at the list of the 30 lawmakers who voted against Price’s bill, we see that 23 of them voted for cutting off funds to ACORN.

In other words, 23 lawmakers were willing to hold ACORN accountable — but not Blackwater.

Those 23 lawmakers, 13 of whom hail from the South, are:

* Rodney Alexander (R-La.)
* Joe Barton (R-Texas)
* Charles Boustany (R-La.)
* Paul Broun (R-Ga.)
* Michael Burgess (R-Tx.)
* Steve Buyer (R-Ind.)
* Nathan Deal (R-Ga.)
* Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
* Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.)
* Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
* Sam Johnson (R-Texas)
* Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
* John Linder (R-Ga.)
* Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)
* Gary Miller (R-Calif.)
* Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)
* Tom Price (R-Ga.)
* Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)
* Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
* Pete Sessions (R-Texas)
* John Shadegg (R-Ariz.)
* Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)
* Don Young (R-Alaska)

The other seven lawmakers who voted against Price’s bill are no longer in Congress. They are Reps. Richard Baker (R-La.), Chris Cannon (R-Utah), John Doolittle (R-Calif.), Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Jim McCrery (R-La.), Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).

While it would also be interesting to extend the comparison to the Senate, it’s not possible: A companion bill to Price’s legislation sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama stalled in that chamber due to Republican opposition.

In other Blackwater news, a settlement in a civil suit against the company, now known as Xe, brought by dozens of Iraqis, including the estates of victims allegedly killed by Blackwater employees, has apparently fallen apart.

Then there are the reports that Blackwater used child prostitutes in Iraq. And State Department efforts to cut ties with the company (in Iraq, ties continue in other parts of the world) have been unsuccessful.

All of this will be interesting to follow going forward.

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  • JSpencer

    Our tax dollars at work…

  • dduck12

    Oh, not too worry, the current admin. will not use dirty/questionable tactics.

  • GSW1943

    How many other of the major contractors are in a situation similar to Blackwater/Xe, i.e. have the equipment and know-how to do what the government requires and because those requirements are so large and specific, can reasonably expect that few or no companies will undertake the effort and investment to meet them? How many companies can provide what a Halliburton provides, for example?

    If I remember correctly from Vietnam, KBR (now part of Halliburton) essentially provided the support infrastructure for American forces (and possibly for South Vietnam, I don't know) and I don't imagine many, if any, companies could compete with it effectively once it had its people and equipment up and running.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    Major contractors, GSW? Our armed forces are capable of setting up infrastructure, feeding soldiers, etc. And at far lower cost. Frankly I find it completely insulting to assert that mercenaries ($900 a day soldiers) can do a better job of warring than our troops. As for Haliburton and Bechtel, these were ridiculous decisions. In a country we plunged into chaos, Iraq, we CREATED massive unemployment, then brought in contractors to do work that the Iraqis could have done. Every Iraqi punching a time clock for us is one who is not strapping on a suicide vest. We should have ditched these pricey “friend of Bush” contractors and hired locals. All of them. The cost would have been trivial compared to Halliburton and would have won us the hearts and minds of the Iraqis who could take pride in rebuilding their roads, electricity, water, sewer, hospitals, schools and securing their borders with Syria and Iran.

  • GSW1943

    GreenDreams, if we had a large enough standing military, you are right but we don't and haven't shown any inclination to have one. I certainly agree that the price paid for some of this is exorbitant. I was not referring to the mercenary functions performed by some of these companies but to the basic infrastructure activities which probably could have been done by Iraqis but, for security reasons initially and perhaps now, were seen as too risky a choice. My argument is not that this is a good practice but that it is understandably necessary at the outset of operations and then becomes essentially self-perpetuating as operations proceed. Blackwater/Xe has the proper helicopters for State Department use and, until the Iraqis banned its presence, no other company could reasonably commit the resources to try to displace Blackwater/Xe. Even with the door wide open, the new company failed to get helicopters that met the specifications and, when it begins to operate, some of the helicopters it uses will have been supplied by the US government, making them unavailable for use in the operations for which they were intended. I am arguing that the situation becomes complex and detaching from the contractors becomes very difficult and in some instances impossible, not that it is a good situation.

  • roro80

    “detaching from the contractors”

    How about just holding them to the law? You know, laws like “don't kill the people we're here to protect” and “don't go to child prostitutes”?