The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
The Blackwater Killings in Baghdad
Government Reports on Blackwater
February 24th, 2010 - An Examination of the Blackwater Contract and the Need for Oversight
December 8th, 2008 - Transcript of Blackwater Press Conference/U.S. Department of Justice
November 16th, 2007 - Memorandum/Testimony of Howard J. Krongard/U.S. House of Representatives
October 23rd, 2007 - Report on Personal Protective Services in Iraq/U.S. Department of State
September 27th, 2007 - An Examination of Blackwater’s Actions in Fallujah/U.S. House of Representatives
September 19th, 2007 - U.S.-Iraq Joint Commission/U.S. Department of State
July 11th, 2007 - Private Security Contractors in Iraq/CRS Report for Congress
Report by the Committee on Armed Services of the U.S. Senate
“[…] Prepared Statement By Senator Carl Levin
“President Obama has said that a primary objective of our effort in Afghanistan is to strengthen Afghanistan’s government and security forces so that they can take the lead in securing their nation. The President has ordered the deployment of approximately 30,000 additional U.S. troops to help achieve our goals in Afghanistan.
“While most attention has understandably been focused on those 30,000 troops, attention also needs to be paid to the thousands of contractor personnel who are operating in Afghanistan. From training Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to guarding our forward operating bases, contractor personnel are performing missioncritical tasks. According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), in the last quarter of fiscal year 2009 alone, the number of Department of Defense (DOD) contractor personnel increased by 30,000, bringing the total number in Afghanistan to more than 100,000.
“While we distinguish between American servicemembers and contractor personnel, Afghan civilians often do not. As John Nagl and Richard Fontaine of the Center for New American Security put it: ‘local populations draw little or no distinction between American troops and the contractors employed by them; an act committed by one can have the same effect on local or national opinion as an act carried out by the other.’
“In the fight against the Taliban, the perception of Afghans is crucial. As General Stanley McChrystal said in August of last year ‘the Afghan people will decide who wins this fight, and we … are in a struggle for their support.’ If we are going to win that struggle, we need to know that our contractor personnel are adequately screened, supervised, and held accountable - because in the end the Afghan people will hold us responsible for their actions.
“Most contractor personnel act responsibly and within the rules to help us execute the mission, often at great risk to their own safety. Today’s hearing, however, will explore contract activities which fell far short of our requirements.
“In the fall of 2008, a company called Paravant entered into a subcontract with Raytheon Technical Services Company to perform weapons training for the Afghan National Army (ANA). The statement of work governing Paravant’s performance was developed by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC–A) and contracted out by the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Simulation Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) to Raytheon.
“Paravant was created in 2008 by Erik Prince Investments (the company which is now named Xe). I’m going to use the names ‘‘Blackwater’’ and ‘‘Paravant’’ interchangeably. I do that for clarity as there is no meaningful distinction between the two. At the time Paravant was awarded its one and only subcontract, it had no employees.
“In Afghanistan, the company operated under Blackwater’s license and shared a bank account with Blackwater. Former Paravant Vice President Brian McCracken reported to Blackwater personnel. According to Mr. McCracken, Raytheon paid Blackwater for services rendered by Paravant and Paravant relied on Blackwater for its billing. Paravant and Blackwater were ‘one and the same,’ according to Mr. McCracken, and he added, Paravant was only created to avoid the ‘baggage’ associated with the Blackwater name.
“It has been widely reported that on May 5, 2009, Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff, two men working for Paravant in Afghanistan, fired their weapons, killing two Afghan civilians and injuring a third. In reviewing the Army’s investigation of the incident, then-CSTC–A Commanding General Richard Formica said that it appeared that the contractor personnel involved had ‘violated alcohol consumption policies, were not authorized to possess weapons, violated use of force rules, and violated movement control policies’. According to the Department of Justice prosecutors, the May 5, 2009 shooting ‘caused diplomatic difficulties for U.S. State Department representatives in Afghanistan’ and impacted ‘the national security interests of the United States.’ According to one media report, the shooting ‘turned an entire neighborhood against the U.S. presence’ and quoted a local elder as saying, ‘if they keep killing civilians, I’m sure some Afghans will decide to become insurgents.’
“On January 6, 2010, Mr. Cannon and Mr. Drotleff were indicted on firearm and homicide charges for their involvement in the May 5th shooting. Responsibility for litigating those charges is with the Department of Justice. Today’s hearing will focus on Blackwater-Paravant’s conduct and operations in Afghanistan. As acknowledged by a Blackwater senior executive after the May 5th shooting, an environment was created at Paravant which had ‘no regard for policies, rules, or adherence to regulations in country’.
“Our investigation dug into the events that occurred before the May 5th shooting. We will hear how that environment developed and also discuss failures in U.S. Government oversight that allowed it to persist. In particular, we will hear about Blackwater personnel’s reckless use of weapons, its disregard for the rules governing the acquisition of weapons in Afghanistan, and failures in the company’s vetting process that resulted in those weapons being placed in the hands of people who never should have possessed them. […]”
Report by U.S. State Department & Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
“[…] The Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), is responsible for protecting personnel, facilities, and information - both domestic and abroad. Over the years, DS has been unable to provide long-term personal protective services solely from its pool of special agents, and it has turned to contractual support. When, in 2004, on short notice, the Department assumed responsibility for protecting Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) personnel in Iraq, it turned to contractor support.
“In mid-2004, the Department negotiated sole-source letter contracts with Blackwater Security Consulting and with Triple Canopy for personal security services in Iraq, which were already providing personal protective services in Iraq to the CPA under Department of Defense contracts. In June 2005, the Department awarded its second Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract to three companies - Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and DynCorp International, LLC. This report focuses on the Blackwater contract in Iraq and associated task orders.
“The total estimated costs for the Department’s contracts and task orders with Blackwater for Iraq were over $1 billion as of May 29, 2008. The contracts are funded primarily with Department Diplomatic and Consular Programs (D&CP) funds and about $76 million of Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Funds (IRRF). A joint audit by the Department of State Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Audits, and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Office of Audits, was determined to provide an efficient way to review funding and performance under the contract. […]”
Transcript from the U.S. Department of Justice
“[…] We’re here today to announce that a 35-count indictment has been unsealed in the District of Columbia. As you are aware, an indictment is merely a formal charging document notifying a defendant of the charges against him or her. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
“The indictment unsealed charges five Blackwater security guards with voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and weapons violations, for their alleged roles in the September 16, 2007, shooting at Nisur Square in Baghdad, Iraq.
“Specifically, the defendants are charged with killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 other individuals in connection with this event. In addition, we can report that a sixth Blackwater security guard has pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same shooting. This guilty plea also was unsealed today.
“While there were dangers in Baghdad in September 2007, there were also ordinary people going about their lives, performing mundane daily tasks, like making their way through a crowded traffic circle.
“For the safety of these people, as well as U.S. government personnel and their own colleagues, security guards were obligated to refrain from firing their powerful weapons except when necessary for self-defense. The documents unsealed today allege that these six men disregard that obligation, and in doing so, violated U.S. law. […]”
Report by the Office of Inspector General, US State Department
“[…] On September 16, 2007, private security contractors working for Blackwater USA conducted an armed convoy through the Nisoor Square neighborhood of Baghdad that resulted in the death of 17, and wounding of 24 Iraqi civilians. More than a year later, the facts are still under investigation, and the incident continues to bring focused attention to the actions of private security contractors operating in Iraq.
“In October 2007, the Secretary of State’s Panel on Personal Protective Services in Iraq (The Panel), composed of outside experts, was assembled to review the Department’s security practices in Iraq following the Nisoor Square incident and to provide recommendations to strengthen the coordination, oversight, and accountability of Embassy Baghdad’s security practices. This report examines the status of The Panel’s recommendations and whether changes in operations enhanced the protection of U.S. mission personnel and furthered U.S. foreign policy objectives.
“In making this assessment, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) visited Embassy Baghdad and sites throughout Iraq where private security contractors provide movement and personal protection for U.S. mission personnel, including Erbil, Kirkuk, Hillah, Tallil, and Basra. In addition, OIG examined Department reporting on the status of the recommendations and consulted with senior and operational-level officials in Management and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), Embassy Baghdad, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and the three security companies under contract with the Department to provide protective services in Iraq - Blackwater USA, DynCorp International, and Triple Canopy. The evaluation was conducted according to Quality Standards for Inspections issued by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency. […]”
Report by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office
“[…] Private Security Contractors
“Providing security for all personnel, including contractors, is an inescapable aspect of U.S. operations in Iraq because of the instability and violence in that country. Under current DoD policy in Iraq, the military provides security to contractors and government civilians only if they deploy with the combat force or directly support the military’s mission […]. Unless special arrangements are made, U.S. government agencies and contractors, such as reconstruction contractors, that do not meet that requirement must provide their own security. As a result, the use of contractors to provide security has increased - a well-publicized and controversial aspect of contractor support in Iraq.
“Private security contractors, or PSCs (also referred to as private security companies), protect people and property in Iraq for U.S. agencies, the Iraqi government, and private businesses, namely, other contractors working in Iraq. Virtually all PSCs in the Iraq theater work in Iraq. They provide personal security details for officials, security escorts for government and contractor personnel, security for convoys and at fixed sites, and advice and planning related to security […].
“Costs for Private Security Contractors and Subcontractors
“CBO estimates that total spending by U.S. agencies and U.S.-funded contractors for private security services ranged between $ 6 billion and $ 10 billion over the 2003–2007 period. Between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion of that spending was for obligations made directly by the U.S. government for private security services in Iraq. The government’s obligations for those services have amounted to roughly between $ 500 million and $ 1.2 billion annually since 2005. DoD, DoS, and USAID have awarded all of the U.S. government contracts for security services in Iraq. Since Iraq’s transition to sovereignty, DoS’s security contracts have also protected USAID employees, so USAID is not obligating new funds for PSCs in Iraq.
“Contractors hired by the U.S. government that are not protected by the U.S. military generally hire PSCs as subcontractors to provide security. Neither FPDS-NG nor officials, security escorts for government and contractor personnel, security for convoys and at fixed sites, and advice and planning related to security […].
“CBO estimates that U.S.-funded contractors spent $ 3 billion to $ 6 billion for subcontractors to provide security services over the 2003–2007 period. That spending makes up the balance of CBO’s $ 6 billion to $ 10 billion estimate of total spending for those services. CBO calculated that range by first estimating the value of the government’s service contracts performed in Iraq that required nonmilitary security. That estimate - $ 32 billion - is based on the assumptions that the military provides security for the LOGCAP contract, that contracts for products do not have significant security costs, and that JCC-I/A contracted for products or services at a ratio similar to that for all other in-theater contracts supporting operations in Iraq. CBO then determined that contractors spend between 10 percent and 20 percent of that $ 32 billion on security subcontracts. […]”
Report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
“[…] Since the Nisour Square incident in September 2007, DOD and the State Department have taken action to improve oversight of PSCs in Iraq,. However staffing and training challenges remain for DOD. In November 2007 MNF-I established the Armed Contractor Oversight Division to provide oversight and serve as MNF-I’s overall point of contact on policies that govern DOD’s PSCs. MNF-I has also published comprehensive guidance related to the oversight of DOD PSCs and has made military units more responsible for providing oversight of PSCs in terms of incident reporting and investigating as well as contract management.
“However, while DOD has incorporated information on working with PSCs into senior military staff and unit training programs and exercises, this training does not reflect the increased PSC oversight responsibilities and organizational structures established since the September 2007 incident. Thus, military units may not be aware of and trained on how to carry out their expanded oversight responsibilities and the required incident investigations may not occur.
“Further, while DOD has increased the number of personnel in Iraq devoted to providing contract oversight and management over private security contracts it is not clear whether DOD can sustain this increase because limited number of oversight personnel in the workforce. In the short-term, DOD has increased the number of oversight personnel in Iraq by shifting existing oversight personnel from other locations into Iraq. However, if DOD is unable to sustain the increase in oversight personnel, the improvements in contract oversight gained by the current personnel increases may well be lost.
“The State Department has implemented 11 of the 18 actions recommended by a panel that reviewed the Department’s use of PSCs in Iraq and continues to implement others. Among the recommendations it has implemented or is in the process of implementing are recommendations to install video recording equipment in its security vehicles, place a diplomatic security agent in each PSC motorcade, and increase the number of Diplomatic Security agents stationed in Iraq to improve contract oversight and management. To provide these additional agents, the State Department moved personnel from other assignments both in the U.S. and abroad which negatively affected other Diplomatic Security missions. The State Department has requested and received funding for an additional 100 diplomatic security agents in its fiscal year 2008 supplemental appropriations request. […]”
Memorandum from the U.S. House of Representatives/Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
“[…] On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, the full Committee held a hearing entitled, ‘Assessing the State Department Inspector General.’ At this hearing, Inspector General Howard J. Krongard testified that his brother, Alvin ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, told him that he was not on the board of Blackwater USA and had no connections to Blackwater. Yesterday, in response to a letter from the CommiÍtee, Buzzy Krongard called the Committee staff and said that contrary to Howard Krongard’s testimony, he did tell his brother about his relationship with Blackwater.
“The information from Buzzy Krongard raises serious questions about the veracity of Howard Krongard’s testimony before the Committee. To help answer these questions, I expect the Committee to hold a hearing immediately after the Thanksgiving recess at which Howard Krongard and Buzzy Krongard will be invited to testify. […]”
Report from the U.S. Department of State
Memorandum from the U.S. House of Representatives/Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
“[…] Blackwater Shootíng Incídents.
“Incident reports compiled by Blackwater reveal that Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 ‘escalation of force’ incidents in Iraq since 2005 that involved the firing of shots by Blackwater forces. This is an average of 1.4 shooting incidents per week. Blackwater’s contract to provide protective services to the State Department provides that Blackwater can engage in only defensive use of force. In over 80% of the shooting incidents, however, Blackwater reports that its forces fired the first shots.
“In the vast majority of instances in which Blackwater fires shots, Blackwater is firing from a moving vehicle and does not remain at the scene to determine if the shots resulted in casualties. Even so, Blackwater’s o\ryn incident reports document 16 Iraqi casualties and 162 incidents with property damage, primarily to vehicles owned by lraqis. In over 80% of the escalation of force incidents since 2005, Blackwater’s own reports document either casualties or property damage.
“The reports describe multiple Blackwater incidents involving Iraqi casualties that have not previously been reported. In one of these incidents, Blackwater forces shot a civilian bystander in the head. In another, State Department officials report that Blackwater sought to cover up a shooting that killed an apparently innocent bystander. In a third, Blackwater provided no assistance after a traffic accident caused by its ‘counter-flow’ driving left an Iraqi vehicle in ‘a ball of flames.’ Blackwater also reports engaging in tactical military operations with U.S. forces.
“In addition to Blackwater, two other private military contractors, DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, provide protective services to the State Department. Blackwater reports more shooting incidents than the other two contractors combined. Blackwater also has the highest incidence of shooting first, although all three companies shoot first in more than half of all escalation of forces incidents. […]”
Report by the U.S. House of Representatives/Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
“In one of the most infamous episodes of the Iraq War, four Americans working as private security personnel for Blackwater USA were ambushed and killed in Fallujah on March 31, 2004. This incident was a turning point in public opinion about the war, as photos of their burned and mutilated bodies were widely displayed in the U.S. media.
“The ambush of the four Blackwater personnel prompted a major military offensive, known as the First Battle of Fallujah, which began four days later on April 4, 2004. The battle, which lasted until May 1, 2004, resulted in the deaths of at least 36 U.S. servicemen, approximately 200 insurgents, and an estimated 600 Iraqi civilians. Military observers have credited the intensity of the U.S. offensive in Fallujah with aggravating the negative Iraqi sentiment towards the coalition occupation and fueling an escalation of the insurgency.
“On February 7, 2007, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the performance and accountability of private military contractors in Iraq. The Committee heard testimony from family members of the four Blackwater USA security contractors who were ambushed and killed in Fallujah, as well as from Andrew Howell, the General Counsel of Blackwater USA. […]”
Press Statement by the U.S. Department of State
“[…] The Governments of the United States and Iraq have agreed to establish a joint commission of inquiry to examine issues of security and safety related to U.S. Government-affiliated personal security detail operations in Iraq following the loss of life that resulted from an incident involving a Department of State personal security detail in the Mansour district of Baghdad on September 16, 2007.
“The commission will make joint policy recommendations, including specific suggestions for improving U.S. and Iraqi procedures regarding U.S. Government-affiliated personal security details. The commission also will receive the findings of the U.S. review of the incident which occurred in the Mansour district of Baghdad on September 16.
“The United States regrets the loss of life as a result of this incident and reiterates its commitment to a comprehensive and transparent investigation of the incident and to full participation in the activities of the commission. […]”
CRS Report for Congress
“[…] Sources of Controversy
“[…] Concerns over the quality of security personnel being hired under U.S. government contracts were triggered by news reports that possible human rights violators were being hired. According to one source, in February 2004, Blackwater started training former Chilean commandos - some of whom served during the Pinochet years in Chile - for duty in Iraq. Another news report at the time indicated that four guards killed in January while working for an Erinys subcontractor had served in South Africa’s security forces during the apartheid era, and one of them had applied for amnesty for crimes that he had committed.
“More recently, Congress has taken a renewed interest in questions about accountability and transparency. In November 2006, news reports about a lawsuit filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court brought to light allegations that a Triple Canopy employee in Iraq twice had fired want only at Iraqi civilians in the summer of 2005 and possibly killed one person. The two Triple Canopy employees filing the lawsuit state that they were fired for reporting that their supervisor had committed the act. According to a news report, the Triple Canopy employee was operating at the time under a KBR subcontract when the alleged shootings occurred.
“Most recently, a news article discussing an incident in which a Blackwater guard shot dead an Iraqi driver in May 2007 quoted an Iraqi official’s statement that the Iraqi Interior Ministry had received four previous complaints of shootings involving Blackwater employees. The House hearings also revealed that the U.S. government has not been aware of the extent to which contractors and subcontractors employ private security personnel, and of the broad network of subcontracts over which the U.S. government, according to some, has exercised little oversight. […]”