Coke, Booze, Assault: Blackwater Contractors’ Past Revealed In Murder Case

January 25, 2010 1:35 p.m.

The two former Blackwater contractors who were charged this month with murder for the shooting death of two Afghan men left the military with other-than-honorable discharges for behavior ranging from assault to going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine, according to service records that surfaced in bond hearings, the AP reports.

A judge in federal court in Virginia has ordered Christopher Drotleff and Justin Cannon held in custody; arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday. The judge called Drotleff “a danger to the community based on the nature of the charged offense, his history of alcohol abuse and criminal and military history which include crimes of violence.”It had been previously reported that Drotleff had been twice arrested for DUI in his home of Virginia Beach over the past 10 years.

The case centers on a shooting that occurred after a traffic incident in Kabul in May 2009. Drotleff has said he fired in self-defense after an Afghan car rammed the contractors’ vehicle — but how the events unfolded are in dispute. At the time, the men were training Afghan soldiers for a Blackwater company called Paravant.

The AP runs down the two men’s past records, which also call into question Blackwater’s recruiting standards:

Drotleff’s three-year service in the Marines ended with an other-than-honorable discharge in 2001 and a military record that included offenses for seven unauthorized absences, two failures to obey an order, assault, disrespect toward a noncommissioned officer and falsely altering a military ID card. Before his service with Blackwater in Afghanistan, the 29-year-old also faced a number of state convictions for reckless driving, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, resisting arrest and DWI.

Cannon, 27, was discharged from the Army after going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine. He later petitioned successfully to have his military records officially changed to an honorable discharge.

After the shooting last May, Cannon, Drotleff, and two other contractors at the scene reportedly lost their jobs for violating Blackwater’s drinking policy. We’ve posted one of the other contractor’s termination letter here.

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