A Code Pink protester claimed a high-ranking Blackwater official threatened his life during a break of a Senate Armed Services hearing focused on the military contractor’s actions in Afghanistan.
Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin reported that the threat was made by Johnny Walker, a program manager with one of Blackwater’s subsidiaries. Walker testified at the hearing about the role his company, Paravant, played during its mercenary deployments to the Middle East.
Shortly after the break was announced, Tighe Barry criticized the US military’s use of Blackwater to the court and the CNN camera. As Walker brushed past on his way out of the courtroom, Barry claims Walker said “I’m gonna kill you.”
“This is how they run their business,” Barry said to the camera after Walker left the room. “They are trained murderers. They will threaten you at any moment and they’ll be in our communities soon.”
During its six-month investigation of Blackwater, the Senate Armed Services Committee has shown that the company is riddled with problems and frequently violated the terms of its contract with the US military.
Blackwater’s actions sound like “a cartoon parody of war,” as one journalist put it.
In some cases, this is literally true.
According to the investigation, more than 200 AK-47s were taken from a bunker in September 2008 and signed for by a Paravant/Blackwater employee named “Eric Cartman.” Many of the weapons remained unaccounted for months later.
Michigan Democrat and committee chairman Carl Levin said “failures of government oversight” were partly responsible for the contractor’s poor conduct in Afghanistan.
“Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and with almost no consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow,” Levin said in a statement. “The means by which Blackwater acquired weapons for its contractor personnel in Afghanistan showed just how little regard company personnel had for those rules.”
This video is from CNN, broadcast Feb. 24, 2010.