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Blackwater leader threatened to kill State Dept. official before Nisour Square massacre: NYT

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A top Blackwater manager threatened to kill a State Department investigator in 2007, just weeks before one of the private contractor’s guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square, according to a New York Times report.

Jean C. Richter, a diplomatic security special agent, said Daniel Carroll, a Blackwater project manager, told him “that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq.”

“Mr. Carroll’s statement was made in a low, even tone of voice, his head was slightly lowered; his eyes were fixed on mine,” Richter said in his memo. “I took Mr. Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.”

Richter said he was especially alarmed because Carroll, who formerly served in the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, was the security contractor’s leader in Iraq, and “organizations take on the attitudes and mannerisms of their leader.”

But Richter said officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad sided with Blackwater, saying the investigation he was conducting with Donald Thomas Jr. was disrupting day-to-day operations and creating an unnecessarily hostile environment for the contractor.

The two State Department investigators were ordered to return to Washington, where Richter later wrote a scathing memo on the lack of oversight of the company paid $1 billion to protect American diplomats in Iraq.

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“Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” Richter said in the Aug. 31, 2007, memo.

This created a situation where the “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”

Documents obtained by the Times’ James Risen showed Blackwater – which changed its name to Academi after it was sold by its founder, Erik Prince, in 2010 — overbilled the State Department by manipulating personnel records.

But investigators said the contractor got away with inappropriate behavior because embassy personnel got “too close” to the security contractors.

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Four Blackwater guards are currently on trial in Washington for the Sept. 16, 2007, shootings in Nisour Square.

A previous case against five other guards was dismissed in 2009.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Christian university president quits after massive backlash over inviting Mike Pence

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Vice President Mike Pence's role in toxic administrations caused such a backlash that a Christian university is now searching for a new president.

"Taylor University President Paul Lowell Haines has resigned from the nondenominational Christian university a month after hosting Vice President Mike Pence as commencement speaker," Religious News Service reported Monday.

Students and alumni had protested the invitation.

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Florida library forced to cancel ‘Pride Prom’ after death threat sparks fear for teens’ safety

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A Jacksonville, Florida library worked to hold a prom for LGBTQ teens who feel uncomfortable about going to their high school prom as they are or with the person they truly want to bring. That's why they started the Pride Prom. But after fears for the safety for the teens, the library had to cancel.

According to WOKV, the prom was supposed to be this Friday, with a Storybook theme where attendees were encouraged to dress up as their favorite storybook character. There would be music, dancing, a selfie station and more. All of that is over now, however.

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Trump biographer mocks president for humiliating foreign policy ‘triple fail’

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Trump biographer Timothy O'Brien on Monday published a column for Bloomberg in which he mocked the president for suffering a humiliating foreign policy "triple fail" that exposed his presidency's biggest weaknesses.

In his column, O'Brien pointed out that Trump's threats of major actions against Mexico and Iran never amounted to anything, while also noting that the president backed off his plans to begin the mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

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