Blackwater Worldwide is being investigated by the Department of Justice for allegedly trying to bribe the Iraqi government following the 2007 shooting incident that caused the death of 17 Iraqis, according to an article in the New York Times. The piece cites unnamed officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The anonymous tipsters said that the investigation began late last year and confirms an earlier report by The grey Lady that Blackwater execs ok’d secret payments of $1 million to Iraqi officials to buy back their support.
The DOJ has its hand on a handwritten note which establishes that Blackwater hired a high-profile lawyer due to his ties to top Irqi officials, though the company explained the hire as a way to help it disperse reparations to victims of the shootings.
The lawyer, Jaafar al-Mousawi, said he was not aware of any plans to bribe officials and the media “misinterpreted the purpose of the victims’ fund as intended bribes.”
According to the paper, Blackwater ex-employees confirmed to the paper that payments were intended for officials, with only a small portion to go to victims.
Of course, this is just another episode in the extended saga of Blackwater since the 2007 shooting. The centre for Constitutional Rights charged the military company with war crimes and, in 2008, the DOJ charged five Blackwater workers with manslaughter and weapons violations. A federal judge dismissed the charges in December (a ruling the Obama administration has said it will appeal).
Read the whole NYT article here.
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