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Blackwater Families: Contractor Threatened Employee with Abandonment
Paul Kiel –
Today, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) continued his string of hearings on government waste and fraud with one concentrating on Blackwater USA. First up to testify were the families of the four Blackwater guards who were dragged through the streets of Fallujah in 2004.
Once the men signed on with Blackwater and were flown to the Middle East, Blackwater treated them as a fungible commodity. For example, Scott Helvenston was physically and verbally attacked one night by a Blackwater program manager, when Scott indicated that he was not well enough to leave the following morning on a mission. Despite two other Blackwater operators offering to go in Scottâs place, the Blackwater manager burst into Scottâs room late one night, confiscated his weapon, and told Scott that if he personally did not go on the mission the following day, he would be fired. It was under this threat of being fired and abandoned in the Iraq that forced Scott to leave for Baghdad the following morning.
However, late that night, Scott sent his last email. It was addressed: âTo the Owner, President and Upper Management of Blackwater Security.â The treatment of the security operators was so bad that after working for Blackwater for just 11 days, Scott felt compelled to write an email to the owner and president of the company that began:
âIt is with deep regret and remorse that I send you this e-mail. During my short tenure here with Blackwater I have witnessed and endured some extreme unprofessionalism.â
In this lengthy email, Scott detailed all of the problems with the entire program and the treatment of the operators. There was no response from Blackwater management to this call for help. Instead, our men were dead four days later.
Update: Here's the video of the families' opening statement, as delivered by Kathryn Helvenston-Wettengel, Stephen Helvenston's mother: