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Bandini
WIZARD APPRENTICE


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Blackwater: worse than you thought  Reply with quote  


Quote:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817/scahill

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder
By Jeremy Scahill

August 4, 2009


A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2," is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears "violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

"Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds," states Doe #2. "On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed."

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

"It's a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters," John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney's office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. "It would be a crime if we did that." Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: "We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual."

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, "Unfortunately no one can help you in that area." The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation's request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe":

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News's Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a "federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men." He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money."

Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or "seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that "all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded," but that "Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a 'hot wash.' Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred." Blackwater, he says, "did not provide the video to the State Department."

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince "made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis." Specifically, he alleges that Prince "obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis."

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, "Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes."

"For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes." He added: "Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will."

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, "If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians." Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

"Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn't exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated," Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:59 pm
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corporateslave



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1110
Location: Lawrence, KS
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That's pretty wild, but not too surprising given the nature of his company. I just read the book Blackwater about two weeks ago. Hopefully this will trigger the unravelling of the company, because it's kind of scary having a huge mercenary force that has no accountability to anyone except its fundamentalist wackjob ceo.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:15 pm
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A.Steele



Joined: 05 Nov 2008
Posts: 149
Location: northeast mpls
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Mercenaries. god damn hired hitmen. the bush admin made some dumb moves, but how stupid and naive are/were our leaders? Prince is business man in charge of a army. These operatives are trained by the US Military, they are the best of the best (green berets, rangers, black ops ect.) they cant function in normal civilian life, and you send them to battle with a paycheck for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. No chain of command, no rules of engagement. It blows my fucking mind, how they did not see this coming. Blackwater should be contracted by civilians, to overthrow a government that contracts mercenaries. I dont even know if i make sense but this shit pisses me off.

but im cool now.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:16 pm
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Travadone



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
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i looked into taking a few courses through blackwater,the training is excellent.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:54 pm
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RealJustice



Joined: 04 Sep 2002
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I have always thought it strange that blackwater means water that is polluted with piss and shit.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:25 pm
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O2K
SFF has a stalker.


Joined: 14 Jul 2004
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Basically most of the blackwater mercs now work for Triple Canopy who has a contract under Obama.
Post Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:02 pm
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crash



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not that i'm for the invasion and occupation of other countries, but if we're gonna do it, we need a larger army.
Post Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:49 am
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futuristxen



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
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The holy war aspects of this are very interesting and will make for a good movie two hundred years from now.
Post Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:48 am
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T-Wrex
p00ny tang


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Scahill had an article on NPR about 2 weeks ago..


Quote:

The Nation: Blackwater Seeks Gag Order

by Jeremy Scahill
July 23rd, 2009

It became common practice during the Iraq occupation for the US State Department to work with private security companies like Blackwater to help facilitate giving what amounted to hush money to the families of Iraqis shot dead by private security contractors. In fact, Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince, discussed this practice when he testified in front of Congress in October 2007 and admitted to paying $20,000 to a Blackwater victim's family and $5,000 to another.

"We don't determine that value," Prince told Congress when asked how his company decides how much an Iraqi life is worth. "That's kind of an Iraqi-wide policy. We don't make that one."

Now, Blackwater (which recently renamed itself "Xe") is attempting to use other means to silence its victims. On July 20, the company's high-powered lawyers from Mayer Brown, which boasts that it represents eighty-nine of the Fortune 100 companies and thirty-five of the fifty largest US banks, filed a motion in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to impose a gag order on Iraqi civilians suing the company. The motion also seeks to silence the lawyers representing the families of Iraqis allegedly killed or injured by Blackwater in a series of violent incidents spanning several years. Four cases in the Washington, DC, area were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. After preliminary issues are resolved, each case is slated to be tried individually.

The July 20 motion, filed on behalf of Blackwater by Peter H. White of Mayer Brown, requests that Judge Ellis issue "an Order restraining extrajudicial statements relating to these cases by the parties and their counsel to ensure that all parties receive a fair trial and a decision from an impartial jury." The motion specifically seeks to prohibit statements to "the national and local news media."

At the same time, according to a court filing, Blackwater is also asking Judge Ellis to seal evidence that Blackwater claims is confidential or could impact national security. The company argues that if its contracts with the State Department and its "Tactical Standard Operating Procedure" guide are publicly revealed, it "could give valuable information to those who wish to plan more effective attacks against diplomatic personnel stationed in Iraq." Susan Burke, the lead attorney on the civil lawsuits against Blackwater, is not contesting Blackwater's request to seal these specific documents—primarily because they will still remain evidence. But, it does mean that the public will not be able to view them. "Blackwater is basically trying to keep from public view all of the evidence that shows their criminality," says Burke. "They are trying to ensure that we cannot apprise the public of the progress of the lawsuit."

Blackwater's gag-order motion focuses at length on Burke. It cites her labeling of Erik Prince as "a modern-day merchant of death" whose "repeated illegal conduct...must be stopped" and then lists statements by Burke and other lawyers that Blackwater says "are merely the latest in a long line of inflammatory public utterances":

• The death of plaintiff Sa'adoon was "part of a pattern of illegal Xe-Blackwater shootings around the globe known to company management," and part of a "culture of lawlessness and unaccountability" fostered by the company.

• The deaths of plaintiffs in the Hassoon case "reflect the pattern and practice of recklessness in the use of deadly force" by Blackwater "mercenaries" who have "flouted the laws of the United States and their host nation Iraq."

• "Xe-Blackwater's repeated illegal conduct has caused hundreds of unnecessary deaths and thousands of unnecessary injuries. This shooting of [plaintiff] Rabea was not an isolated event. Xe-Blackwater personnel repeatedly and routinely shot for no reason as they prowled the streets of Iraq."

When asked about these specific statements, Burke quickly shot back: "It's all accurate. Those are all completely accurate statements. I stand by what I said."

The Blackwater legal team argues "there is no constitutional right to sway potential jurors through press releases, media interviews, and other extrajudicial statements. 'Legal trials,' the Supreme Court has observed, 'are not like elections, to be won through the use of the meeting-hall, the radio and the newspaper.'"

Burke's partner in the lawsuit, the Center for Constitutional Rights, says it will fight vigorously against Blackwater's attempt to silence their Iraqi clients and attorneys. "Blackwater has consistently spent millions of dollars on PR and public advocacy to try to promote their position and this is something that they have done before," says Bill Quigley, CCR's Legal Director. "This is a blatant attempt to gag the First Amendment rights of the individual Iraqis, their families, their lawyers and the public at large and to bury these factual allegations under a cone of silence. It's not new for Blackwater."

Judge Ellis has scheduled a public hearing on Blackwater's requests for sealed evidence for July 28 at 5:30 pm,, where journalists and the public can express their views to the judge. A hearing on the gag order request is set for August 7. Both will be held in the Eastern District of Virginia court. It is possible that Blackwater could ask the State Department to intervene on the company's behalf to support the sealing of documents, as Blackwater has done in the past with the Department of Defense. "I would encourage the State Department, the Obama administration and anybody else that thinks that Blackwater's misdeeds should be kept out of the public eye to really think very, very carefully before advancing that position publicly," says CCR's Quigley. As for the gag order, among the arguments Burke could make is this: Blackwater itself has a record of leaking information from court cases to the media.

Earlier this year, lawyers from the US Justice Department prosecuting five Blackwater operatives for the September 2007 Nisour Square massacre accused Blackwater's attorneys of improperly passing court discovery material to journalists, specifically Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press. Apuzzo wrote several stories based on leaked "evidence" that supported Blackwater's line on the case, namely that their men fired in self-defense. (Apuzzo is a reporter with a track record of confronting US government attempts to keep information from the public or "off the record." There is no allegation Apuzzo engaged in improper or unethical conduct in covering Blackwater.) On April 6, 2009, US Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor wrote:

Since the prosecutors sent a letter to the defendants on December 3, 2008, formally advising them to surrender themselves for arrest, there have been a number of documents and other material associated with this case that have been selectively provided to Mr. Matt Apuzzo, a reporter for the Associated Press wire service. In each instance, the material was provided to Mr. Apuzzo in an apparent attempt to influence improperly the opinions of prospective jurors at a trial in this case.... [Blackwater's] counsel have insisted on the right to disseminate copies of discovery material to third parties as they deem appropriate, and have declined to accept language that would place enforceable limitations on what those third parties can do with the material.

The judge in that case issued an order clarifying the rules, and Blackwater's lawyers, who insisted they had done nothing wrong, reached an agreement with prosecutors not to leak information. This case shows that "it's Blackwater, not us, that has been violating court strictures," says Burke. "For them to actually be bringing this on against us is ridiculous. There's nothing we've done that would merit any kind of order."

Quigley sees Blackwater's attempt to gag the Iraqi victims, their families and the attorneys representing them as an attack on the public's right to information about a government contractor that has been paid more than $1 billion in US taxpayer funds. "Blackwater is concerned about what the lawyers say and what the parties say and what's in the record, but what they're really concerned about is that journalists will cover it," says Quigley. "And so, even though this isn't an attempt directly to gag journalists, it's clearly—the thrust of this thing is to deprive journalists of any information that they can use to write about Blackwater or to hold Blackwater accountable or even to discuss the issues of hired mercenaries by our government."

Another interesting line to emerge in Blackwater's motion is that the company now prefers to be called by one of its recently created alternate identities, "US Training Center." One would be forgiven for thinking this is an Olympic facility, instead of a mercenary operation. The lawyer representing Blackwater, Peter H. White, boasts in his bio that he is "listed in The Best Lawyers in America—White Collar Criminal Defense."

Blackwater/Xe/US Training Center did not respond to a request for comment.
Post Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:47 am
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McTools



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
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I found the SAFETY Act,

https://www.safetyact.gov/

The SAFETY Act provides important legal liability protections for providers of Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies – whether they are products or services. The goal of the SAFETY Act is to encourage the development and deployment of new and innovative anti-terrorism products and services by providing liability protections.

http://www.triplecanopy.com/triplecanopy/en/home/

I think it's interesting that Triple Canopy cites this act as their certification. Stupid Acts... I'm sure that Blackwater operated under this too, and Blackwater has changed their name to US Training Center if you havn't checked it yet, go to blackwaterusa.com and you'll be routed to the new page. Dirty killers....
Post Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:43 pm
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