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Blackwater Wanted Iraqi Military Planes

Associated Press (2007-10-19) Richard Lardner

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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 said.

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 operations.

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.

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Title Blackwater Wanted Iraqi Military Planes
Publisher Associated Press
Author Richard Lardner
Pub Date 2007-10-19
Media Link
Keywords Blackwater
Media Type Linked Article
Curator Rating Highlighted
Author Name Sortable Lardner, Richard
Topic revision: r2 - 10 Nov 2007, RaymondLutz
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