How Blackwater Survived Iraq Probes Of Being "Above The Law" - By Threatening To Kill Investigators

Tyler Durden's picture

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, The NY Times reports that the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. However, as James Risen reports, a senior official of the notorious private security firm allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator leading the probe into the firm’s Iraqi operation. Stunningly (or not), the US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short.

As The Times reports, based on documents which were turned over to plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Blackwater... According to the documents, the investigators found numerous violations, including changing of security details without the State Department’s approval, reducing the number of guard details and storing of automatic weapons and ammunition in Blackwater employees’ private rooms.

There were also discipline problems, with guards having parties with heavy drinking and female visitors, including one episode in which an armored Blackwater car was requisitioned by four drunken employees, who drove to a private party and crashed the $180,000 vehicle into a concrete barrier.

As the probe continued, apparently it irritated some people in power in Iraq...

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.

But, as if that was not enough, the leader investigator (who is actively being sought for imprisonment by the Government) explains...

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”


“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials.


“Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”

Above the law? Wonder where they got that idea?

*  *  *

But the plot thickens (as they say). As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes,

James Risen is an honorable man and an excellent investigative journalist. Tragically, he also now faces jail time for refusing to reveal his sources. For a little background on his story, here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Times article:

On Dec. 31, 2005, the C.I.A.’s acting general counsel, John A. Rizzo, received an urgent phone call from the White House about a chapter in James Risen’s coming book, “State of War,” detailing a botched C.I.A. operation in Iran.


The administration wanted Mr. Rizzo to contact Sumner Redstone — the chairman of Viacom, owner of the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster — and ask him to keep the book off the market.


Mr. Rizzo never made the call. It was too late. Copies of “State of War” had already reached bookstores.

First of all, the fact that the U.S. government asks the C.I.A.’s general counsel to try to prevent a book from being published is extraordinarily disturbing in its own right. Moving along…

After more than six years of legal wrangling, the case — the most serious confrontation between the government and the press in recent history — will reach a head in the coming weeks. Mr. Risen has steadfastly refused to testify. But he is now out of challenges. Early this month, the Supreme Court declined to review his case, a decision that allows prosecutors to compel his testimony. If Mr. Risen resists, he could go to prison.


On the advice of his lawyer, Mr. Risen, 59, declined to comment for this article. But during a speech in February in Boston, he said he had two choices: “Give up everything I believe in — or go to jail.”


The Times considered publishing an article about the operation in 2003, when Mr. Risen first learned about it, but President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, prevailed upon the newspaper to withhold publication for the sake of national security.

I’ve highlighted Mr. Risen and his case previously. Most recently, last summer in my post titled: Battle Royale on Piers Morgan: Glenn Greenwald, James Risen and Jeffrey Toobin. The most memorable line from that segment was Mr. Risen’s cutting observation that:

“That’s the thing I don’t understand about the climate in Washington these days. People want to have debates on television and elsewhere, but then you want to throw the people that start the debates in jail.”

*  *  *


Meanwhile, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, has moved on to other things. Like building a mercenary army for China to colonize Africa, something we reported on in the post: How Erik Prince, Founder of Blackwater, Will Help China Subjugate Africa.

Who knows what Mr. Carroll is up to. But for now just repeat tbe chant of freedom, justice and the American way:  USA! USA!

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CH1's picture

Barbaric as this case was, the very presentable Dept. of State is responsible for FAR more deaths than the thuggish Blackwater.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

They are MERCENARIES for fucks sake. Why are we surprised when they behave that way?

sunaJ's picture

The problem with "untruth," or as normal people would call them: LIES, is that they build upon each other.  It is one of the very fundamental lessons my mother taught me.  One lie covers another, she told me.  Shit, are we still in the 5th grade?  To cover one lie, you must make another.  I see it take place to nasy iterations in our government...I also see how it can happen in personal's not that difficult to understand the sin.  Accountability is one of the functions that must take place in sustainable government.  That is why it is the first thing to go in a government that is not sustainable.  I don't know why we are where we are.  Perhaps it is that these people did not have the same mothers, perhaps it is that they are just insane and nothing will dissuade them, perhaps it is that they are so deluded in a sycophant government that they do not know, but for one reason or another they do not see their corruption and all I ask for is that they be held accountable.  If you ask my more revolutionary side, it is that we have created a system where a very clear formula for success is given:  if you don't give a shit about anyone else (but not too much that you are an outright murdering sociopath), it is fact it is beneficial to you to be able to act like that and ride the line.  If you are levitated to the class of ultimate fiat-bullshit wealth creator, ahem, destroyer, then you are actually the cream of the crop!  If you are smart and lucky, you will get away with it.  I'm sorry, many people on here complain about the "hordes of Muslims," or say that formal religion is the danger.  The danger is human nature.  And it can take many forms.  It is not race-based, and fuck you if you think you and I are on the same team if you think it has everything to do with race.  If I hear one more time, "and here we see why THIS race is due for the dustbin..."  They are deluding themselves to fit their fucked up idea, but they have some sense of destruction, that is all there is to it.  Go tribal when it is serious, is the message.  I think tribalism is used against all of us to give the perception that we are not fighting a common enemy.  Hmmm....


0z's picture

They must have thought:
"Why cant we just do it ourselves? Fuck Big Brother, I'm a Big Brothaaa!!!"

EverythingEviL's picture

Perhaps it is simply due to the fact that the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one

kridkrid's picture

I think you are on the right track when you talk about sociopaths. The world is run by them and the process to get there is quite natural. 2-4% of the population is comprised by sociopaths, yet I would posit that more than half of our elected officials in both state and national election (hell, maybe even local gov't right down to school boards) are sociopaths. I would assume that more than half of the CEO and board members of our publicly traded companies, more than half of the heads of our majority universities, etc. etc. etc... sociopaths.

El Oregonian's picture

"If I am forced to tell you the truth, I'll have to kill you." You know, it is our hypocratic oath...

0z's picture

At least he was honest.

cynicalskeptic's picture

Mercenaries have worked out SOOOOO well for their employers throughout history......


The US parallels Rome in so many ways - Republic to Empire to collapse (all in fast forward).  With its own citizens no longer willing to serve in Roman Armies they resorted to using mercenaries.   Those same mercenaries eventualy turned on their employer and looted Rome itself - installing their own leader as emperor.........

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

And they obviously were above the law. Even death threats to government officials went unpunished. And let's just forget about that cold blooded murder thing.

asking4it2k's picture

Blackwater/Academi mercenaries make $150k per year on average. How is that more "cost effective" than deploying a US soldier making only $60k ??


Where my GOP/tea party conservatives at to explain this to me ????

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

There is nothing "free market" about hiring mercenaries, because they are hired by governments, and governments are anti-free market institutions.

Urban Redneck's picture

That depends on when you look...

Art 1 Sec 8 Clause 11

The congress shall have power to... To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Old school mercantilist governments and admiralty courts were surprisingly "free market" in their approach to waging war (except with respect to their monopoly on letter issuance which is all that separated a privateer from a pirate).

Those who advocate a return to the pre-Civil War tax structure in the US often don't like to talk about the role that privateering played in US public finances, in addition to $5-10K for the letter (which was big money back then and only Congress had the authority to issue) the US excise tax on plundered booty was 40%.

general ambivalent's picture

But there are no free markets without governments, so that sort of dampens the liberal/libertarian foundation of economy.

Free market theory developed in that small areas within a nation exchange towards a balanced economy, and from the use of small workshops. However, these goods that were exchanged at the time came from slaves in Africa and the Southern US - ie. from war and mercenary trade. Or if not the goods themselves then at least the land was taken and protected by the governments' armies. Free market theory relied on the mystification that goods appear from nowhere, that there is no history to the goods; in a sense, at a territorial and ideological boundary where war becomes peace.

There are no free markets, that is a myth to make you feel equal to the ones with real power.

Surging Chaos's picture

They can't explain it because they need that MIC money to stay in office.

rubiconsolutions's picture

A lot of those clowns are ex military. Where do you think they learned their, um, skills?

cynicalskeptic's picture

a good number are from FOREIGN (non-US) Special Forces units - South American, European and African

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Most soldiers are driven by patriotism and not money, and operate within the framework of military discipline.

But take a greed-driven soldier, and put him outside the context of military discipline, and this is what you get.

That's why mercenaries are fundamentally different than soldiers.

Disenchanted's picture

Most soldiers are driven by a false patriotism...



In the absence of sacrifice, Americans willingly supply an overabundance of plastic patriotism - of cheap, utterly convenient, symbolic gestures that have the cumulative effect of bestowing a near-demigod status upon the men and women of the US armed forces. Coupled with historically unprecedented, prolonged exposure to the extreme conditions of war, this transformation into the human embodiment of American virtue and selflessness effectively cordons them off from our society. We thus help create a literal American military class, dangerously and unfairly set apart from the country it ought to feel most attached to.


quote from:  A Militarism We Call Patriotism

JimBowie1958's picture

Where do you think you have the right to judge the patriotism of another person you dont even know, moron?

Jumbotron's picture

This is a modern day Praetorian Guard....only now for the highest bidder.

esum's picture




FieldingMellish's picture

An important lesson for the children watching.

CheapBastard's picture

"Might makes Right."


Dat's the Law!

disabledvet's picture

We are losing aren't we. "Have lost" is more like it." Nothing says losing more than"Democrats hire Blackwater too!"

The irony of course is the country is richer than ever...but we're just a country of greed. "Show me the money!"

It is not right but it is indeed appropriate that Detroit has gone bankrupt.

It is not right but indeed appropriate tha Puerto Rico et al are next.

I'll tell you drives the greedy phuckers nuts though...they've missed this whole rally. I mean the whole god damn thing. "They blew the whole country up and left the shit house up in flames"....but in the end they weren't in Google, they weren't in Tesla, they weren't Netflix...these companies ANGER them because these companies have "leaned in" to the no win scenario and come out on top.

And that's what these greedy no good phuckers can't abide by...that in the end there were people who really did play the game better than they did...who really did come out with MOAR...(more than they could ever imagine)...and I here their Lamentations and Protestations everyday now...that "those people are too much into their money unlike me." (Meaning "rich me who has done nothing worthwhile or productive for 20 plus years of ticket punching."

Musk, Bezos, et al..."they took the risk" (in the words of Rudolph Hess) "and they won."

Just look at the parade of losers on the other side of that ledger. I see them where I live everyday.

This really is ONLY about "A Few Good Men" in the end.

JimBowie1958's picture

Yes, it most certainly does solve SOME problems.

IridiumRebel's picture

Blackwater, Academii....what are they called now? Nice to know in the 21st century that Death Squads still can be had and are accountable for nothing.

Jumbotron's picture

The only difference between America's Death Squads and some tin pot dictator's death squads is we are more "civilized"....oh...yeah...right.....we also have a "Constitution".

Other than that.......


general ambivalent's picture

They hate us for our democratic tv. Let them eat uranium tracers.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

This would not happen again if you elect me President in 2016.

DoChenRollingBearing for President 2016!

"We promise NOT to roll into other people's business!"

SF beatnik's picture

When you become Pres., you'll be a nice boy and follow orders like every other Pres before you. Do you understand?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




I'd probably be shot first (for being insubordinate).

Or else they would put sand between my races, ouch!  Ever had sand grinding against your balls?  Not pretty, even if they are made of steel...

IridiumRebel's picture

Vote for the MIC 2016!

putaipan's picture

uh let's see here..... last time2012, i think i joined so i could troll away like fonestar for rocky anderson. remember? -


all 'cause i couldn't get the masses or the two beligerent lil' pricks R.P. and D.K. to drop their ego's .... well, it seems

like someone else was tryin' to do the same thing, AND HE WAS ACTUALLY RUNNING FOR THE FUCKING PRESIDENCY!-

i had known of him before and even tho' i'm pretty good at this interwebs news thing-I HAD NO FREAKIN'IDEA HE WAS RUNNING! . talk about marginalization! anyhoo- i think he might be running again. it's up to you to find out.

(hey just my bit of ego responding to the thought of a do-chen presidential run....even tho' i think he might be a swell guy)

Disenchanted's picture

""We promise NOT to roll into other people's business!"


Unless of course it's for their own good. And because of our 'exceptionalism' we always know what's best for everyone elses own good. Right?

Doesn't matter that we can't even keep our own house in order...

Ms. Erable's picture

What did they expect? Mercenaries want to be paid, and good luck to anyone that even indirectly threatens to cut off their money spigot.

putaipan's picture

oh yeah....what i was gonna say- "if hastings is such a great journalist, where was this story then?"

esum's picture

OK you're a ussa in a bad place




The Hilary Clinton / State Dept security like Benghazi


TheReplacement's picture

Here's a novel idea, let's just not be the USA in a bad place.  Pull out.  Go home.  Save dough and lives.

Otrader's picture

You're 100% right.  Let's get the heck out of....Oh Look! The new Caliphate i$$$$ HERE!!!

Forward....MARCH!!! <Kerching>

putaipan's picture

or this one- .... blame gore! reinventing 'big government', the fascistic outsourcing/privatization of the police state.

Caviar Emptor's picture

It was all justified by the recent finding of wampum of mass destruction. You just heard it wrong when Dubya spoke fast on the TV. Pay attention next time and I'll pay ya fifty dolhairs

putaipan's picture

wampum of mass destuction = B.I.S. digi-dollars ?