The top manager for the mercenary group Blackwater told a State Department investigator that “he could kill [him] at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,”
James Risen of The New York Times reports.
State Department reports obtained by the time paint a dark picture of the U.S. government’s relationship in Iraq with the military contractor, which had a contract worth more than $US1 billion to protect American diplomats.
“The Blackwater-State Department relationship gave new meaning to the word ‘dysfunctional,’ ” Peter Singer, a strategist at the New America Foundation, told The Times. “It involved everything from catastrophic failures of supervision to shortchanging broader national security goals at the expense of short-term desires.”
American embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater over the State Department investigators in the 2007 probe.
The threat by Daniel Carroll, Blackwater’s project manager in Iraq, came weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle, an incident that has led to one of the former guards being charged with murder.
“Mr. Carroll’s statement was made in a low, even tone of voice, his head was slightly lowered; his eyes were fixed on mine,” Mr. Richter wrote in a memo to State Department officials. “I took Mr. Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.”
Blackerwater reinvented itself after several years of grisly incidents during the Iraq War involving allegations of stolen guns, murder, war profiteering, and general recklessness like shooting wildly in the streets.
In 2010, Blackwater founder Erik Prince sold the company, which is now called Academi. Prince contends that the U.S. government threw him under the bus.
Following the threat, chief investigator Jean C. Richter wrote a report documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”
Richter noted that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”
Risen notes that the”watershed moment in the American occupation of Iraq,” which ended in 2011 with an Iran-brokered deal that left no American military advisors behind.
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