Oversight Hearing on Blackwater Panel II

Posted on by Jesse Lee

The Oversight Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Private Security Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The hearing will examine the mission and performance of private military contractor Blackwater USA in Iraq and Afghanistan. Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, testified in the first panel, with three State Department officials testifying in this second panel.

Read previous Gavel coverage of Blackwater >>

Watch the hearing live via committee webcast or on C Span 3.

Chairman Henry Waxman questions Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Richard Griffin on the Department’s actions regarding the Blackwater employee who shot a guard of the Iraqi Vice President, and whether the Justice Department has truly been investigating:

Chairman Waxman: “Have the State Department people been asked any questions by the Department of Justice about this issue?”
Griffin: “I’m sure there’s been conversation, but I can’t…”
Chairman Waxman: “You’re sure but you don’t know… Well the fact of the matter is it seems strange that if there’s this kind of situation, there hasn’t been any action by the Justice Department to date, this is almost, not quite a year, but this is the fall — nine, ten months later. I wonder what really is going on.”

Rep. Jim Cooper questions State Department officials on their responsiveness to Committee inquiries:

Rep. Cooper: “The Committee tried to find out about an incident on November 28, 2005, that’s when a Blackwater convoy deliberately smashed into 18 different cars en route, to and from, the Ministry of Oil. Blackwater’s own internal memo on the incident said that Blackwater's tactical commander on that mission quote 'gave clear direction to the primary driver to conduct these acts of random negligence for no apparent reason.' End of quote. We have a Blackwater memo right here, the Blackwater aviation unit that was accompanying convoy, pointed out the problems. It also says when Blackwater officials responsible were questioned about this incident, they gave statements, official statements, that your own employees said were quote, ‘deemed to be invalid, inaccurate, and at best dishonest reporting.’ OK, so we got a problem here, and the State Department investigates problems. Well, when the Committee asked the State Department, we got no response. So we don’t know if that means you investigated it and didn’t tell us, or you didn’t investigate it. Which is it?”
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