Blackwater awarded over $1bn from State Dept. since threat on investigator’s life

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The US State Department has allocated more than a billion dollars in contracts to the security firm Blackwater and its later manifestations since a top official for the company threatened a government investigator’s life in 2007.

The Huffington Post reported that the notorious security contractor Blackwater, its subsequent incarnations, and its subsidiaries have received more than $1.3 billion since the fall of 2007 for training and operations the world over.

In August 2007, State Department investigator Jean C. Richter said a Blackwater project manager, Daniel Carroll, told Richter “that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” where the investigator was observing – and criticizing – the company’s operations. The New York Times reported the details of the threat last month.

Richter and his partner in the probe were later asked by officials at the American embassy in Baghdad to leave. The next month, Blackwater guards infamously shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square. The incident sparked outrage with American presence in Iraq among the local population. The US is currently trying to prosecute four of the five guards involved in the incident after a first failed attempt to do it in 2009.

Despite the threat to a government investigator and the Nisour Square killings, the security firm continued to receive crucial, lucrative government contracts. Since the date of the threat – August 21, 2007 – and the end of the next month, the State Department awarded Blackwater over $269 million, according to government spending records analyzed by the Huffington Post, for department services in Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and the US. Some of the more major of those awards were approved after the Nisour Square shooting, though they were associated with agreements signed prior to the incident.

Overall, the State Department has given the firm and its associated entities more than $1.3 billion since the fall of 2007. Blackwater and its subsidiaries have changed official names and management several times since 2007, partly based on efforts to distance the firm from the negative attention it received since the company’s notorious conduct in Iraq.

“In the years following the events of 2007, we reviewed our practices of managing contractors and made improvements to increase oversight and ensure that operational control remains with direct-hire State Department employees,” a State Department spokesman said about Blackwater’s continued good graces with department.

“Though we must always ensure that competitive contracts remain fair and open, the safety of our personnel is the highest priority, and we always take into account the past performance and abilities of each contractor.”

How much the company actually received and what the money was spent on is unknown, as federal government records only indicate what funds an agency like the State Department set aside for the firm.

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