The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

The Associated Press Reports Immunity To Blackwater

By Theo O’Brien


By granting Blackwater bodyguards immunity from prosecution, the State Department may have placed a strong deterrent in the federal investigation of the security contractor’s role in a shooting in Iraq that left seventeen Iraqi civilians dead.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

‘Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,’ said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.(1)

An Iraqi probe investigated Blackwater’s role in the deaths of seventeen civilians earlier this month. The conclusion was that Blackwater’s body guards were unprovoked and fired randomly, this prompted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for the company’s immediate departure from Iraq. The FBI is currently involved in its own investigation into the matter but it is reported that several of the Blackwater employees have refused to answer a number of questions citing the recently granted immunity.

[In the pursuit of truth, it is worth mentioning that Fox News has challenged the authenticity of the Associated Press story.]

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October 29, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater, Theo O'Brien | , | 1 Comment

Private Security Contractors: Now $4 Billion from the State Department


The New York Times published a story today that explores the drastic increase in State Department spending (federal money) for private security contracts over the past four years, which now stands at a little under $4 Billion. Here is this year’s State Department budget in brief, and here is next years budget as it stands now (recall that Bush requested an additional $45.9 Billion earlier this week).

The largest problem seems to be the lack of ability of the State Department to manage all of these contractors. I discussed this yesterday with respect to a possible private contractor oversight program.

“State Department contracting officials complain that they do not have nearly enough people to properly oversee the more than 2,500 contractors now under their informal command around the world. And a proposal to charge contractors a fee to pay for additional government compliance officers has stalled in the State Department bureaucracy.” (1)

In the past, for the most part officials have done little to try to submit contractors clearly in the wrong to any sort of reasonable justice process. This example stuck out to me:

Congressional investigators say the security bureau has sought to minimize episodes like the shootings of civilians.

‘We are all better off getting this case — and any similar cases — behind us quickly,’ one State Department security official in Iraq wrote to another, after Blackwater guards killed a father of six in Hilla in 2005, according to an internal State Department memo turned over to Congress. He recommended paying the man’s family $5,000.” (1: Page 2)

Monetary compensation of $5,000 for irresponsible behavior that resulted in death hardly seems equitable. In any case, this and similar examples aren’t near this level of contemplation because there first has to be some recognition of accountability before specific terms can be discussed.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater, Department of State, Economics, Iraq War, Private Security Contractors | , , , | Leave a comment

Military Contractor Oversignt in sight?


A panel led by Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy recommended today the creation of a “central command center” for private security contractors such as Blackwater. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said that these recommendations,

Point a very good way forward, and I intend to act on them expeditiously.” (1)

Because I’m somewhat of a language geek, I feel the need the point out the extreme awkwardness I feel when reading this sentence, not for any critical reason, just because I find it amusing. The reason for my awkwardness is, I believe, the juxtaposition of “a very good way forward” and “expeditiously.” It just seems like this sentence was said by someone who’s not particularly familiar with the subtle implications of words in the english language. Anyway, that’s beside the point and is in no way any sort of substantial criticism.

This sounds like a very good idea to me and it seems like we probably should have thought of this much earlier. I guess an argument can be formed that there shouldn’t be any oversight because it goes against our capitalistic ideals, but in reality, we’re really not a capitalistic society in the sense of pure capitalism; there is a lot of regulation and government oversight. From most perspectives (and I suppose I should qualify: within our societal context) outside of strict capitalistic economic theory, there well should be too.

In any case, like any program this can be executed well, poorly, or anywhere in between.

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater | , , , , | Leave a comment

Murky Blackwater: Blackwater and Tax Evasion?


California Representative and chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Henry A. Waxman wrote a letter to Eric Prince, owner of Blackwater that can be summed up pretty well with this:

Blackwater may have avoided paying millions of dollars in Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and related taxes for which it is legally responsible.

and

“There is also evidence that Blackwater has tried to conceal the IRS ruling and the evasion of taxes from Congress and law enforcement officials.”(1)

This is a serious and weighty accusation. This article is posted on the top of the committee’s main government page in large text and is impossible to miss. It seems like they’re not messing around and definitely aren’t trying to keep it quiet. But hey, even if they do evade taxes at least their business is honest…sorry, couldn’t resist…

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater, Committee on Oversight, Taxes | , , , | Leave a comment