By Stephen C. Webster
September 09, 2009
Did Blackwater mercenaries murder Iraqis to satiate their thirst for 9/11 revenge?
According to Department of Justice files, at least one did, noted Mother Jones associate editor Daniel Schulman on Tuesday morning.
The revelation was torn from documents relative to the prosecution of Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 Baghdad massacre that left 17 dead.
According to the documents Schulman pulled, guards “routinely acted in disregard of the use of force policies,” and one, known as “Raven 23,” allegedly bragged that disregard for Iraqi lives stemmed from a desire for revenge after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While Bush administration officials eventually admitted this, in the run-up to invasion they repeatedly implied that the middle eastern nation was loosely connected to the attacks.
A key passage excerpted from the filings reads:
This evidence tends to establish that the defendants fired at innocent Iraqis not because they actually believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury and actually believed that they had no alternative to the use of deadly force, but rather that they fired at innocent Iraqi civilians because of their hostility toward Iraqis and their grave indifference to the harm that their actions would cause.
Mother Jones has posted the court records online (PDF link).
Controversy has surrounded the private security firm practically since it was founded, but erupted anew recently when former employees accused Blackwater’s founder and former CEO of murdering or facilitating the murders of other employees who were preparing to blow the whistle on his alleged criminal activities.
The sworn statements also say that founder Erik Prince and Blackwater executives were involved in illegal weapons smuggling and had, on numerous occasions, ordered incriminating documents, e-mails, photos and video destroyed. The former employees described Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”
One of the statements also charges that “Prince’s North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring, which was participated in by many of Mr. Prince’s top executives.”
The former employees additionally claim that Prince was engaged in illegal arms dealing, money laundering, and tax evasion, that he created “a web of companies in order to obscure wrong-doing, fraud, and other crimes,” and that Blackwater’s chief financial officer had “resigned … stating he was not willing to go to jail for Erik Prince.”
The company was also allegedly involved in the planning stages of the CIA’s assassination program, which was reportedly never used, then scrapped by CIA chief Leon Panetta.
Prince has repeatedly insisted his company has done nothing wrong and Blackwater continues to fulfill its contracts with the United States government.
For the massacre of Iraqi civilians, five Blackwater guards were arrested and charged with manslaughter. A sixth guard flipped and agreed to testify against the others. Government informants later claimed the company tried to gather up and destroy weapons involved in the slaughter.
The State Department announced last January that it would not be renewing Blackwater’s contract for security services in Iraq when it was set to expire in May, however the Obama administration decided to extend it through Sept. 3, according toThe Nation’s Jeremy Scahill.
ABC reported the new contract extension is for an unspecified amount of time and could end “within weeks or months.”
When it is finally allowed to expire, Blackwater’s involvement with Iraq will have ended, completely.
US Contractor Cited for ‘Improper Conduct and Excessive Use of Force’
The Iraqi government has informed the US embassy today that it will decline to renew Blackwater Worldwide’s license to operate in the nation. This will require the security contractors, still being used by the State Department, to leave the nation once the joint US-Iraq committee finishes drawing up its formal guidelines for contractors.
According to Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the decision came as a result of “improper conduct and excessive use of force” by the contractor, still infamous in Iraq for its 2007 killing of 17 civilians in Baghdad.
The move was hardly a surprise, as the State Department was advised over a month ago to look for a replacement security service on the belief that Iraq would do this. The current contract with Blackwater is scheduled to expire in the spring. While it is unclear how long the committee will take in drawing up the guidelines, the US has assured it will abide by Iraqi law regarding its contractors.
- September 8, 2009 — Was 2007 Blackwater Massacre Revenge for 9/11?
- September 2, 2009 — State Department Asks Embattled Blackwater to Continue in Iraq
- July 7, 2009 — New Charges Added to Blackwater Lawsuit