Work For Blackwater, Drunkenly Shoot Anyone You Like
Erik Prince, Blackwater's founder and owner, is testifying before Congress about how his mercenary army keeps shooting civilians in Iraq. Henry Waxman opened the hearing by applauding Prince for serving in the military even though he's rich and politically-connected. And we applaud Prince for then quitting the military to go into the private sector, using all that taxpayer-funded know-how to make himself millions of dollars. Of course, every now and then, one has to give back a couple of those dollars. Like when one of your employees drunkenly kills a civilian and you need to shut up his whiny family. And just how much is that life worth?
Well, it depends. Rep. Carolyn Maloney is asking Prince about the incident in question, which the Times describes:
A Blackwater USA employee under investigation in the killing last December of an Iraqi bodyguard in an off-duty confrontation was so drunk after fleeing the shooting that another group of guards took away the loaded pistol he was fumbling with, a report to a House committee said Monday.
The guards, employees of Triple Canopy, another private military contractor, returned the weapon to the Blackwater employee, who smelled of alcohol, and escorted him away from their guard post in the fortified Green Zone, the report said. Shortly afterward, the police detained the man, a 26-year-old firearms technician whom the report did not name, at the Blackwater camp inside the Green Zone, but determined he was too intoxicated to be interviewed.
Within 36 hours, the report said, Blackwater fired the man for possessing a firearm while drunk and arranged with the State Department to fly him back to the United States, angering Iraqi officials who said the Christmas Eve shooting was murder.
Maloney seems to be inexplicably upset that the man didn't really face any punishment beyond a fine of "multiple thousands of dollars" for killing the bodyguard of the Iraqi Vice President. But Blackwater did pay! The US Embassy suggested an apology and a payment of $250,000, which surely would've made everyone feel very good about one little drunken murder.
But a diplomatic security official rightly noted that such a large payment would obviously lead to thousands of Iraqis just itching to get shot down in cold blood by "our guys" in order to net their families a big payout. So Blackwater gave them $15k.
Prince can't really say if anything else happened to the shooter after they sent him home and fined him, but the Justice Department is totally going to eventually get around to investigating this year-old incident.