As the cameras roll this morning in the Oversight hearings, Salon.com rolls out a comprehensive article documenting the ties between Blackwater, and their $1 billion in contracts, and the Bush administration:
On Tuesday morning, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will be holding a hearing on the U.S. military's use of private contractors. When Waxman announced plans for the hearing last week, the State Department directed Blackwater not to give any information or testimony without its sign-off. After a public spat between Rep. Waxman and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department relented. Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince is now scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
But the attempt to shield Prince was apparently not the first time State had protected Blackwater. A report issued by Waxman on Monday alleges that State helped Blackwater cover up Iraqi fatalities. In December 2006, State arranged for the company to pay $15,000 to the family of an Iraqi guard who was shot and killed by a drunken Blackwater employee. In another shooting death, the payment was $5,000. As CNN reported Monday, the State Department also allowed a Blackwater employee to write State's initial "spot report" on the September 16 shooting incident -- a report that did not mention civilian casualties and claimed contractors were responding to an insurgent attack on a convoy.
The ties between State and Blackwater are only part of a web of relationships that Blackwater has maintained with the Bush administration and with prominent Republicans. From 2001 to 2007, the firm has increased its annual federal contracts from less than $1 million to more than $1 billion, all while employees passed through a turnstile between Blackwater and the administration, several leaving important posts in the Pentagon and the CIA to take jobs at the security company. Below is a list of some of Blackwater's luminaries with their professional -- and political -- resumes.
Having the State Department "investigate" Blackwater is a monumental joke. Yesterday the FBI launched their own investigation but even there, as we saw through the Alberto Gonzales scandal, there have been extensive and elaborate efforts by the White House to politicize the Justice Department.
The foxes are guarding the chicken house... and when Congress tries to conduct an investigation the White House instructs people to ignore subpoenas. Then there is the sudden and massive memory loss by many of the adminstration members who do end up on the witness stand.
It's those Republican Party values at work again... working over American taxpayers for billions of dollars in contracts to their pals.
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