Infamous military contractor Blackwater Worldwide (also known as Blackwater USA and now Xe) has previously been accused of corruption, murder and illegal arms smuggling.
Well, now you can add bribery to that list:
Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.
Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater’s president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq.
Blackwater continued operating as the prime contractor providing security for the United States Embassy in Baghdad until spring, when the Iraqi government said it would deny the company an operating license. The State Department replaced Blackwater with a rival in May, but the company still does some work for the department in Iraq on a temporary basis.
Remember, all of Blackwater’s alleged crimes were paid for by your tax dollars–at least $1.25 billion of them so far. Up until a few months ago, in fact, Blackwater was America’s biggest, most highly-paid military contractor in Iraq.
Outrageously enough, even after many these allegations came to light, Blackwater was still allowed to operate and to collect taxpayer dollars. In fact, according to that article, Blackwater continues to get contracts from the State Department.
As the recent ACORN snafu showed us, there are now a bunch of conservatives out there concerned about corruption and the misuse of taxpayer dollars. Where are they on this? Blackwater has received more than 23 times as much federal money as ACORN; why aren’t their scandals major national news?
Regardless, though, the use of taxpayer dollars to underwrite such criminality is completely and utterly reprehensible. Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex; clearly, we should have listened.
[For more on Blackwater’s record of murder, illegal arms smuggling and corruption, read You Say ACORN, I Say Blackwater.]
UPDATE: According to the logic behind the anti-choice Stupak amendment, no taxpayer money can go toward anything that anyone finds morally reprehensible.
I find Blackwater’s alleged criminality to be morally reprehensible, so let’s ban the allocation of any federal funds to them. In fact, Congress’ defunding of ACORN set a good precedent for this.
Perhaps someone in Congress should mirror the Stupak strategy by holding up a major piece of legislation until an amendment is passed banning federal funding for military contractors facing criminal charges.