Despite Criminal Investigations, Blackwater to Keep Working in Iraq

Sources Tell ABC News the Extension, Worth About $240 Million, Was Requested by U.S. Embassy Officials in Baghdad

ABC | Apr 4, 2008

By BRIAN ROSS

Although it has been accused of tax fraud, improper use of force, arms trafficking and overbilling, the Blackwater firm will have its $1.2 billion contract for private security in Iraq renewed by the State Department, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

The one-year extension, worth an estimated $240 million, was requested by officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, two sources close to the arrangement tell ABC News.

Meanwhile, a grand jury, federal prosecutors and congressional investigators are probing a host of allegations against the company.

The grand jury is reportedly investigating whether Blackwater security guards used excessive force in killing 13 Iraqi civilians in a violent incident in central Baghdad last September. At the time, many speculated the incident would effectively end the firm’s work for the State Department when its contract came up for renewal in May 2008.

Federal prosecutors are probing allegations that Blackwater personnel smuggled weapons, night-vision scopes and other sensitive material into Iraq. The firm has denied any involvement in such a scheme.

A congressional panel is investigating whether the company illegally dodged millions in taxes by misclassifying its employees as “independent contractors.” The allegation, Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said at the time, was “incorrect.”

And a State Department investigation in 2005 found Blackwater sometimes double-billed employees’ time, resulting in “duplication of profit.”

Blackwater has more than 850 personnel in Iraq under contract to the U.S. government in Iraq.

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8 responses to “Despite Criminal Investigations, Blackwater to Keep Working in Iraq

  1. Hey their work in Iraq saves money for someone for when they rent out as police/security in the US or anywhere.

  2. Plus they get a lot of shooting practice on how to kill civilians at random and training on how to run checkpoints, knock down doors and confiscate weapons for when they return to run security during emergencies and train our police departments.

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