To stifle criticism of civilian killings, the American mercenary group formerly known as Blackwater approved payoffs of up to $1 million for Iraqi politicians, according to former company officials who spoke to The New York Times.
“Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees,” the Times reported. “American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”
The paper added that the four whistleblowers, who were all former Blackwater executives, accused president Gary Jackson of personally approving the payoffs. They did not name the recipients and could not say whether the money was ever delivered.
One of the sources told the Times that officials at the Interior Ministry, where decisions over company operating licenses are made, were the intended recipients of the payments, which were aimed at quelling criticism and eliciting support.
The accusations are only the latest in a long series of scandal and controversy for the firm, now known as Xe.
In August, a former Marine and former Blackwater employee filed sworn affidavits linking company founder Erik Prince to murders and prostitution.
The statements also say that Prince and Blackwater executives were involved in illegal weapons smuggling and had, on numerous occasions, ordered incriminating documents, e-mails, photos and video destroyed. Prince has since resigned — however, he did not dispute the bribery allegations when confronted by Blackwater’s vice chairman at the time, according to one of the whistleblowers quoted by the Times.
The Iraqi government ultimately revoked the mercenary group’s operating license after the Nisour Square massacre, which left 17 civilians dead. Five Blackwater guards were charged for the killings. In spite of this, Blackwater’s security apparatus continued to operate in the country for two years after it was banned.
Presidential Airways, a subsidiary of Blackwater, had its $200 million contract with the U.S. State Department renewed in September. The company is still operating in Iraq, providing helicopter services to embassy employees.
“Blackwater [also] works in Afghanistan for the State Department, the CIA and the Defense Department,” The Nation‘s Jeremy Scahill added. “It continues to protect US officials there and guards visiting Congressional delegations. Rep. Jan Schakowsky told The Nation she was guarded by Blackwater on a recent trip to Afghanistan and that the company is involved with the security details of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke when they visit the country.”
‘Saudi Arabia pays cash’: Trump admits ‘unlike other presidents’ he’ll be renting out US troops for military action
President Donald Trump has been banging the drums of war in recent days, pointing the finger at Iran for a massive drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil fields that caused the price of oil worldwide to spike.
But on Sunday, President Trump admitted – even bragged – that U.S military forces are “locked and loaded.”. Trump also made clear he would be more than happy to order a strike on whatever country the Saudis tell him to hit.
That’s not how the U.S. Military has ever been used. They are not soldiers of fortune, they are not mercenary forces.
We, Trump said, “are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Felicity Huffman’s $15,000 is chump change — America’s biggest bribery scandal is a whole lot worse
The American media world—both social media and “news” media—is afire with the news that actor Felicity Huffman is going to jail for spending $15,000 to bribe her daughter’s way into college.
But a much bigger bribery scandal is played out every day in America with nary a peep from the media. It’s the way billionaires and big corporations buy not just college admissions but tax cuts, deregulation, and hundreds of billions in government subsidies paid for with our taxes.
Americans have been conditioned by Trump not to believe intelligence — so why trust them now?: NBC analyst
President Donald Trump denied the 19 intelligence agencies that reported Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election because they wanted him to win. According to Trump, however, none of the intelligence reports are accurate because he won the election on his own. After years lambasting the intelligence services, attacking the FBI and other law enforcement agencies working with intelligence, Trump is between a rock and a hard place.
MSNBC host, and new mom, Katy Tur noted that after being sold a bill of goods about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Americans are likely going to be skeptical. She went on to cite NBC reporter Ken Delaney, who said that American allies "don't have the most trust in us" right now.