A U.S. Senate committee has blasted the private military company formerly known as Blackwater, accusing the firm of engaging in “reckless use of weapons, hiding its identity to score government contracts, and harming America’s war effort in Afghanistan.” Investigators for the Senate Armed Services Committee said they also found that Blackwater contractors in Afghanistan secured more than 500 weapons from the U.S. military, even though company employees were not authorized to carry weapons there. They also found that the military signed over some of the weapons to a contractor who used a fake name borrowed from a character in the TV cartoon South Park.
The hearing was part of an on-going investigation by the Armed Services Committee into the role of contractors in Afghanistan, and focused on a shooting incident involving two Blackwater security trainers. The trainers, who were working for Paravant, a subsidiary of Blackwater’s successor company, Xe Services, have been accused of killing two Afghan civilians in May 2009. Both face federal charges of murder, but maintain their innocence. Both Paravant and Xe are owned by Erik Prince, the owner and founder of Blackwater. Blackwater changed its name to Xe in early 2009 after the company was involved in a series of deadly incidents in Iraq.
In Afghanistan, Xe offshoot Paravant was operating as a subcontractor to Raytheon, providing weapons training to the Afghan National Army. During a recent hearing, committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), reported that a Paravant executive, who acted as point man with Raytheon after the May 2009 shooting incident, told Senate investigators that Paravant routinely disregarded policies and rules in Afghanistan. It was reported to the Senate that Paravant “had no regard for policies, rules, or adherence to regulations in country.”
Senator Levin has pointed out that both men accused in the civilian shooting incident had unsatisfactory military records that should have disqualified them from employment with Paravant. According to Senator Levin, Paravant was arming contractors who never should have had weapons in the first place. Blackwater has been accused of hiding its identity by setting up new companies when securing government contracts. Paravant has been called a “scam company,” and a “shell” for Blackwater. The Department of State said in 2008 that it had lost confidence in Blackwater’s credibility and management ability. Blackwater lost a security contract with the State Department after a 2007 shooting incident that cost the lives of 17 Iraqi civilians.
Source: ABC News
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