Blackwater Wanted Iraqi Military Planes
Associated Press (2007-10-19) Richard Lardner
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By RICHARD LARDNER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Blackwater USA tried to take at least two Iraqi
military aircraft out of Iraq two years ago and refused to give the
planes back when Iraqi officials sought to reclaim them, according to a
congressional committee investigating the private security contractor.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee, wants the company to provide all documents
related to the attempted shipment and to explain where the aircraft are now.
In a letter sent Friday to Erik Prince, Blackwater's top executive,
Waxman said he learned of the 2005 attempt from a military official who
contacted the committee. That official is not identified in the letter,
nor is the type of aircraft.
Waxman also is seeking a sweeping amount of information about
Blackwater's business, including its contracts with the federal
government, profits made since the company was founded a decade ago,
Prince's personal earnings since 2001, and details about the payments to
the families of Iraqis killed by Blackwater personnel.
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the company is cooperating with
the committee but declined to comment further.
When Prince testified before the oversight committee on Oct. 2, he was
asked to disclose financial data but declined to do so in an open
setting, noting it would give his competitors an unfair edge.
"We're a private company and there's a key word there — private," Prince
In addition to his seven-page letter to Prince, Waxman also sent letters
Friday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice seeking more information on Blackwater and its overseas
Blackwater and two other security contractors share a $571 million
annual contract to protect diplomats and others in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Israel and other countries. The Iraq share of the contract accounts for
about $520 million and the bulk of that total goes to Blackwater.
Waxman wants Rice to supply the oversight committee with particulars
about a 2004 contract Blackwater received from State on a noncompetitive
basis in 2004. He also wants investigative reports and any other
documents related to the discharge of weapons and improper or
unprofessional behavior by Blackwater personnel.
From Gates, Waxman wants records and individuals with specifics about
a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad involving Blackwater guards that left 17
Iraqis dead and a Dec. 24, 2006, incident in which a Blackwater guard
killed an Iraqi security worker.
The guard, Andrew Moonen, was subsequently flown out of Iraq and fired
by Blackwater. The Justice Department is continuing to investigate the case.
In all three letters, Waxman wants the information provided by Nov. 2.