Blackwater Manager Threatened to Kill State Dept. Investigator; Bush Administration Sided with Blackwater

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Blackwater Victim-Mohammed Hafiz shows photo of 10-year-old son, Ali Mohammed, October 4, 2007 (Photo: Khalid Mohammed, AP)

In August 2007, just weeks before Blackwater security guards shot and killed numerous non-combatants in Nisour Square in Baghdad, the State Department received a report that project manager Daniel Carroll, a former Navy SEAL, had told government investigator Jean Richter that he would kill him if he continued to probe the company’s work in Iraq, which had become alarming.


Carroll said “that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” Richter wrote in a memo to senior State Department officials in Washington, according to The New York Times.


“Mr. Carroll’s statement was made in a low, even tone of voice, his head was slightly lowered; his eyes were fixed on mine,” Richter added in his memo. “I took Mr. Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.”


Surprisingly, U.S. diplomats in the Baghdad embassy sided with Blackwater and told Richter he should go home and stop disrupting the embassy’s relationship with the company. Hiring private security guards from Blackwater and other companies was common under the George W. Bush administration’s management of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Richter noted in his report that Blackwater was making more than $1 billion in Iraq from the U.S. government, while creating “an environment full of liability and negligence.” Blackwater personnel were accused of running civilian cars off Iraqi roads, drunkenly wrecking vehicles and even killing civilians.


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


The next month, on September 16, 2007, a team of Blackwater guards opened fire in Nisour Square, killing 17 Iraqi civilians. An immunity agreement between Washington and Baghdad kept local authorities from arresting and trying the guards, who were unsuccessfully prosecuted in the U.S. five years ago. But four of the men are now back in federal court as prosecutors seek to punish them for murder under new charges.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater (by James Risen, New York Times)

Iraqi Survivors of Blackwater Massacre Finally get their Day in Court (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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