Military Contractor Blackwater, AKA Xe, in Trouble Again
One of three Afghan civilians wounded when U.S. contractors shot at them in an incident in early May died of his wounds Sunday, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.
A second Afghan civilian remains in serious condition, and the third person wounded was treated and released from a Kabul hospital, according to the U.S. military in Kabul.
After the shooting, the men claimed they were being held against their will by their former employer, Paravant, in Kabul. Paravant's parent company, Xe, said the men were not being held against their will. It said the U.S. military told the company to instruct the men to stay as the investigation progressed.
The U.S. military denied the men were being asked to stay because of the investigation...
The controversy continues over the shooting incident and who authorized what. Here's the AP story:
Two men who worked for the security firm formerly known as Blackwater say the company issued weapons to their employees in Afghanistan despite the military prohibiting workers from carrying guns.
The employees were military trainers apparently allowed to use weapons during training but not otherwise because of restrictions placed on Blackwater by the military. The restrictions are a clear response to repeated incidents by private contractors, Blackwater included.
At the management level, Blackwater's reputation for integrity is not good. It was Blackwater whose contractors were killed by insurgents in an ugly 2004 incident in Fallujah after being warned by the military to use a different route. Like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush, Blackwater's executives have a knack for revising history. Here's part of a 2007 story from Bloomberg:
In a 10-page report delivered yesterday to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Blackwater said its security guards couldn't have prevented the deaths of four Americans in an attack in Fallujah at an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps checkpoint. The videotaped brutality of the incident sparked a U.S. military offensive.
However, in the same news story, we find a different version after investigations by others:
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman has criticized the company in a series of reports, including a Sept. 27 review that said the company ignored warnings, failed to properly equip its employees and cut essential personnel before the ambush.The head of Blackwater, now know as Xe, is a well-connected Republican, Erik D. Prince. The New York Times did a profile on him during congressional investigations in 2007:
Waxman has accused the company of initiating violence in a series of incidents in Iraq, quietly paying off one victim's family and avoiding U.S. taxes. He also highlighted ties between its top executives and the Bush administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday ordered added training and revised rules for use of force by security contractors in Iraq, following a Sept. 16 incident involving Blackwater that left at least 11 people dead.
Republican political connections ran deep in his family long before Mr. Prince founded Blackwater in 1997. When he was a teenager, religious conservative leaders like Gary Bauer, now the president of American Values, were house guests. James C. Dobson, the founder of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, gave the eulogy at his father’s funeral in 1995. “Dr. and Mrs. Dobson are friends with Erik Prince and his mother, Elsa Broekhuizen,” Focus on the Family said in a statement.
Mr. Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, married into one of the most politically active conservative families in the Midwest. She has served as the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan, and last year, her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan as the Republican candidate. Mr. Prince and his family have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and other conservative and religious causes, records show.
Various excuses are made for Blackwater just as excuses have been made for Cheney, Rumseld, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and yes, George W. Bush. Hopefully, the era of private military contractors is drawing to a close. It cannot happen soon enough.