Blackwater Knocked Down Probe By Threatening to Kill Investigator

June 30, 2014 12:47 a.m.

Over the course of the last decade, Blackwater became a notorious symbol of military contracting run amok, with price-gouging, reckless behavior and your occasional atrocity. So it’s hard to imagine anything coming out that would genuinely shock anyone. Until this.

According to documents reviewed by The New York Times, State Department investigator had already begun probing Blackwater a short time before the infamous Nisour Square shooting in 2007. But the probe broke down when Blackwater’s top guy in Iraq threatened to kill the lead investigator, suggesting, not improbably, that amid the anarchy of Iraq it could be easily covered up as just another moment of sectarian violence or a terrorist attack.

From the Times

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

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Conjecture can be a dangerous thing. But it’s frightening but not hard to imagine what other kinds of rough “justice” of this sort Blackwater employees might have been able to mete out to Americans or Iraqis. As the “top manager” put it, it was Iraqi, random killings, suicide bombings and more were commonplace. No one would ever know or be able to do anything about it if they did.

It’s also notable that the US Embassy sided with the Blackwater over State Department investigators when you consider that the Embassy is an appendage of the State Department. That’s never entirely the case. But the Embassy in Iraq was dominated by military and intelligence agencies. The development is not altogether surprising.

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