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Tag: Blackwater

FBI Incensed Over Justice Department’s Leniency in Blackwater Security Case

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is not happy with how prosecutors handled the indictment of Blackwater security contractors involved in a deadly shooting in Iraq, saying political appointees in the Justice Department intentionally undermined the case. The FBI wanted to have charges filed that could have sent the defendants to prison for life.

Citing internal emails, The New York Times reports that the FBI also expressed serious concerns with Justice Department officials’ decision to refuse to bring two machine-gun charges, each of which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

In part, officials were not comfortable with the mandatory minimum sentences.

“We are getting some serious resistance from our office to charging the defendants with mandatory minimum time,” Kenneth Kohl, a federal prosecutor, told the lead F.B.I. agent on the case, John Patarini, before the  grand jury to vote on an indictment in December 2008.

Patarini was not happy: “I would rather not present for a vote now and wait until the new administration takes office than to get an indictment that is an insult to the individual victims, the Iraqi people as a whole, and the American people who expect their Justice Department to act better than this.”

In 2007, Blackwater security contractors shot machine guns and grenade launchers into a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding many others.

 

 

 

Justice Delayed? Four U.S. Security Contractors Charged in 2007 Baghdad Shooting

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Four years after a judge dismissed the case, four former Blackwater security contractors were charged Thursday in the 2007 attack on Iraqi civilians in which 17 people were killed, Time reports.

The men, who were hired to guard U.S. diplomats, are accused of using machine guns and grenades at a Baghdad Square in 2007.

Among the victim were women and children, Time reported.

Defense attorneys said the contractors were firing on an ambush by insurgents.

What’s in a Name? Ask Blackwater

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Blackwater, the controversial security contractor that got in a whole lot of legal trouble for its deadly cowboy antics in Iraq, is trying once again to  scrub clean that bad image.

First it tried by changing its name to Xe Services LLC. But inevitably most articles included the phrase “formerly known as Blackwater.” Now, the company will try it again.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Virginia based company on Monday will unveil a new name once again along with logo. The name: Academi.

The Journal reports that Ted Wright, president and chief executive, said he will try to make Academi more “boring,” the Journal reported.

In April, a federal appeals court reinstated the federal criminal case against a group of Blackwater security guards charged in Washington with manslaughter and weapons violations for their alleged roles in a shooting in Baghdad that killed more than a dozen civilians, according to the Blog of the Legal Times.

 

Rep. Issa’s Committee Probing ATF Released Sealed Document in Criminal Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In their apparent zest to learn the truth about a controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious”, and generate public pressure,  staffers working for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) may have gone too far — at least according to committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

The website Talking Points Memo (TPM) reported that Cummings fired off a letter Monday to Rep. Issa saying the committee improperly disclosed a sealed document which could have compromised a criminal investigation.

Cummings letter said Justice Department officials met with committee staffers on May 5 and told them they had wrongly released the document sealed by a federal judge.

“Your staff stated that they were unaware that the document was under seal when they disclosed it to the press, but they discovered the breach soon afterwards,” Cummings wrote in the letter to Issa, according to the website.

“At the conclusion of that meeting, and at the request of the Department, your staff seemed to agree that consultation would help avoid such mistakes in the future.”

TPM said an Issa spokeswoman did not respond for comment. TPM noted that the letter came after Cummings warned at a hearing on Monday that there was a “dangerous potential to compromise criminal prosecutions” when congressional committees looked into active investigations.

“Some committees have conducted investigations during open federal prosecutions, but in these relatively rare cases, committees have consulted meticulously with the Department to ensure that their actions do not negatively affect ongoing prosecutions,” Cummings said.

“For example, they have reached agreements to consult with the Department before publicly releasing documents or reports, to refrain from obtaining documents relating to certain sensitive sources or methodologies, and to secure limited information against public release.”

Interestingly, TPM noted that back in 2007 Issa argued that the Oversight Committee should hold off investigating Blackwater until the State Dept. finished its probe. The Dems had pushed for the investigation.

“We’re supposed to allow the administration to do its investigation and then we do oversight,” Issa said at the time, according to TPM. “We’re not investigators.”

Two Ex-Blackwater Workers Convicted in Fed Court in Fatal Shooting in Afghanistan


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two former Blackwater employees have been convicted in federal court in of involuntary manslaughter while working Afghanistan in 2009.

Justin Cannon, 27, of Corpus Christi, Tex. and Christopher Drotleff, 29, of Virginia Beach, Va., were convicted Friday in Norfolk U.S. District Court. Both were working for Blackwater as contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense in Afghanistan. They were acquitted of other charges including second-degree murder.

The Justice Department said evidence at trial showed Cannon and Drotleff left their military base without authorization and joined a convoy transporting local interpreters.

Following a traffic accident involving one of the vehicles in the convoy, Cannon and Drotleff fired multiple shots into the back of a civilian car that tried to pass the accident scene, the Justice Department said.

The passenger of the car was fatally shot, the driver was seriously injured and a man walking his dog was also killed.

Fed’s Cases Against Blackwater “Beginning to Fall Apart”, NY Times Reports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Blackwater Worldwide, the security firm that became a toxic symbol of America in Afghanistan and Iraq, may be getting a bigger break than it ever imagined.

James Risen of the New York Times reports that after nearly four years the federal government’s investigations and prosecutions against the Blackwater Worldwide workers overseas “are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.”

The latest example came Monday when the Justice Department announced it would not seek murder charges against Andrew J. Moonen, who is of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice president in 2006, the Times reported.

To read more click here.

5 Ex-Blackwater Execs Indicted on Weapons Charges

blackwaterlogo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Five ex-executives from Blackwater, the highly controsersial security firm, were charged Friday with illegally acquiring automatic weapons and filing false documents. Some weapons were gifts to the Kingdom of Jordan in hopes of landing a lucrative contract to build and run a training center, authorities said.

The 15-count federal indictment out of Raleigh, N.C. charged Gary Jackson, 52, former President; William Wheeler Mathews, Jr., 44, an attorney and former Executive Vice President and Vice President of Operations; Andrew Howell, 44, General Counsel; Ana Bundy, 45, former Vice President of Logistics and Procurement; and Ronald Slezak, 65, a former armorer. The company now operates under the name XE Services.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said employees acquired the high power weapons in hopes of getting a competitive with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Specifically, authorities alleged that the company allegedly purchased 227 short barrel rifles without registering them, a violation of the law.

Additionally, the company wanted to acquire a stock of automatic weapons for use at its Moyock, N.C., facility.

But authorities said federal law limits the number of certain firearms.

“To evade the legal limit of no more than two weapons of any type, they allegedly arranged straw purchases with a small local sheriff’s office,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“Blank letterhead stationery from the sheriff’s office was provided to Blackwater, which was used to prepare letters claiming the sheriff’s office wanted to purchase 17 Romanian AK47s and 17 fully automatic M4s,”the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “The weapons were paid for by Blackwater, were immediately delivered to Blackwater upon their arrival, and were locked in Blackwater’s armory to which the sheriff’s office had no direct access.”

Read Justice Dept. Press Release

Justice Dept. Probing to See if Blackwater Bribed Iraqi Govt.

blackwaterlogo2
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The infamous Blackwater Worldwide comapny may have changed its name a while ago, but it hasn’t managed to erase its troubled past.

The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is investigating “whether officials of Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi government officials in hopes of retaining the firm’s security work in Iraq after a deadly shooting episode in 2007, according to current and former government officials.”

The Justice Department’s fraud section opened up the inquiry late last year, officials told the Times.

The company, which garnered so much bad publicity in recent years, changed its name to XE Services last year, though many still refer to it as Blackwater.

For Full Story