Blackwater USA takes fire

The female relatives of four security guards killed in 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq, complained to lawmakers about what they claim is private contractor Blackwater’s indifference to their plight.

My son put all “his experience and his knowledge from the army … to use with Blackwater. But they shot off his arms and his legs. They just left him out there to die. They did not provide anything for him,” said the mother of Jerry Zovko, one of four former US soldiers killed and mutilated in Fallujah.

“Although everyone remembers those images of the bodies being burnt, beaten, dragged through the streets and ultimately hung up from a bridge, we continue to re-live that horror day after day,” the four women said in a joint statement to the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“Following that horrific incident on March 31, 2004, we turned to Blackwater for answers. What we received was appalling,” said Donna Zovko, Kathryn Helvenston, Rhonda Teague and Kristal Batalona.

“We were told that the information surrounding the circumstances in which our loved ones were killed was ‘confidential.’ When we insisted on seeing the report concerning the incident, Blackwater told us that we would have to sue them to get it,” they added.

The women accused Blackwater of deliberately neglecting the safety requirements of the four employees in their difficult assignments, in order to save money.

Committee chairman Henry Waxman said the case of the four murdered Blackwater employees was symbolic of the murky world of sub-contracted work in Iraq.

“Almost four billion dollars in taxpayer funds has been paid for private security forces in the reconstruction effort alone, but sorting out overheads, subcontracts, sub-subcontracts, profit and performance has been nearly impossible,” Waxman said.

“It is now almost three years later, and we still don’t know for sure the identity of the prime contractor under which the four Blackwater employees were working,” he added.

What is certain, added the Democratic lawmaker speaking on behalf of the victims’ families, “taxpayer dollars never reached the security personnel on the ground.

“They believe that the money for protective equipment took a backseat to the multiple layers of contract profits.”

The families have taken their complaints against Blackwater to court.

Blackwater’s general counsel, Andrew Howell, told the hearing of the difficulty of ensuring the safety of their employees in Iraq.

“Our professionals are highly skilled and experienced. Yet, for all of the experience and training, no one can guarantee that they will be safe when they step into a war zone. Our enemy has ensured that,” Howell said.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse


  1. Wannabe-SEAL

    Damn Michael Price….that was cold. Very true though. LMAO. Until very recently I was highly interested in the Blackwater Group as a career after i retired from the Navy SEALs(if i make it to the SEALs that is). However, after thoroughly researching Blackwater and it’s contemporaries, i think i’ll so no thanks and refuse to take part in their company. I am sorry to say that i was ignorant and naive enough to believe that the present mercs. would make me a valuable asset to and of my country, while also allowing me to earn more money. While the large salaries part may or may not be true, the “unhealthy political factor” cannot be denied: Mercs lead to personal vendettas and agendas be carried out by….how do i put this….”unstable figures”. I do not trust Bush or anyone else who supports him. After finding he supports these hired guns and their activities, I dislike his ass only that much more. One major reason i do not trust bush is that his apparent polictical agenda is based on his personal theology. Is this not the land of the free? Then why is bush allowing his personal beliefs affect my life and the life of my loved ones? The fact that Bush an company now employs hired guns, which may answer soley to him, quite honestly puts a little fear in my heart. Why the fuck do i feel unsafe in my own country? Why do i feel that a government meant to protect me, is actually repressing me and exploiting me at the same damn time? WTF is this bull? I’m only 18 but no one can tell me “you are to young to understand POLITICS!”. All i’d have to say to that is “REALLY? THEN WHY THE FUCK AM I OLD ENOUGH TO DIE FOR THEM?” I am personally disgusted with what i see our countries leaders doing and quite frankly i feel bush needs to be sent on over to Iraq to help command our troops since he feels this war is necessary. Wouldn’t that be some shit?!?! He would very quickly turn his view on this war and find some “plausible” reason for backing out of this war. Well….i’m tired of ranting…some one else take the torch.

    Feel free to e-mail me at with any comments you wish to keep hush-hush:).

  2. Michael Price

    Yeah Blackwater really treated them wrong. I mean how could these poor contractors have afforded $2,000 vests on only a $100,000 salary? What self-pitying crap. If you’re in Iraq and you’re not buying the best protection you can find and leaving the employer-issued crap back at base then your death is just evolution.

  3. It is clear that not many of us ask any questions about what is being done ‘over there’ in our name…as long as we are not directly affected what does it matter, right ?

    This Bush Administration is of the Devil..and it is past time for us to wake up and Impeach Bush and Cheney, and that whole cabal around them should be imprisoned. That holds true for most of the members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, as they are only serving as Cover. Why do you think our National Guard is no longer under the jurisdiction of each State’s Governor ?

    This dictator-president has made sure that nothing stood in the way of rounding up all of the ‘Dissidents’ if we get too wised up to what they are up to. Don’t say you have not been warned. Blackwater is just a small trickle of all that is wrong in this country since the Supreme Court did away with even semi-honest elections in 2000. And you still think Bin Laden had anything to do with 911 ? Come on, folks, wake up out of your self-imposed stupors ! vjs

  4. Doubtom

    I know little about the pay scale of the mercenaries except that it outshines the pay of our regular soldiers. I’m more concerned for the legality of the entire mercenary concept. How did it come about? Who authorized it. In whose name do these paid killers do their dirty deeds? Who do they account to in the event of a killing? When they kill someone, is it considered an extension of the war or a murder? Where do they get their authority, provisions, weaponsand ammunition? Are they autonomous or subordinate to the mnilitary command in the area? What is their chain of command?

    How could we have allowed something this odious to have developed before our very eyes? Since when has “war” become a private venture?

    Dopes the congress have any say at all in the formation and deployment of these paid killers? When our soldiers kill someone, it is done in “our name” whether or not it was justified under the rules of war; in whose name do these paid killers do their killing?

    In short what the fuck is wrong with us anyway? Has every aspect of our government gone awry? Are we totally and insanely out of control?

    aas to who owns it, I could have guessed

  5. mollysgran

    If you want to know more about it you can ‘Google’ Blackwater. Very interesting! If I am not mistaken, (Gen.) Tommy Franks is now on their payroll.

    Blackwater gets $1500 per day per warm body that they put on the battlefield.

    Blackwater owner is an right-wing ultra fanatic christian, and has given thousands of $$$$’s to the Bush campaigns.

    Read up, THEN draw your conclusions.

  6. Doubtom

    I’ve still not heard from anyone, much less my Government representatives, about the legality of these mercenaries.

    How does one go about sending American citizens under arms, provided by the military, into a foreign country to fight? Where is the bill that provides for this activity? Who voted for it?

    Taking up arms in a foreign nation is grounds for treason or dangerously close to it.

    Who do these mercenaries account to if they shoot and kill Iraquis? Does anyone even give a damn that we’re outsourcing the military’s job? How can we justify paying these mercenaries inflated sums while our “cannon fodder” get regular pay?

    I can’t find it in me to feel sorry for the relatives of these mercenaries who were killed. Did they expect that they were being paid big money to sit on the side lines? Only the owners of Blackwater get to do that. Mercenaries deserve what they get for going to war on a private basis. The relatives have no right to expect the government to compensate their loss. In fact, the government’s official position is probably that they don’t even exist—much like their CIA agents.

  7. David Rosenberg

    Whether you side with Blackwater or the Families, if those men did not get the protection they needed, Blackwater doesn’t care much for their employees. They should have at least, a fighting chance to survive.

  8. movie zombie

    regardless, it is our and our childrens’ children’s tax dollars going to the bottom line of profit to Blackwater et al. any employee of any company has to realize that the bottomline is more important that the employee. i feel bad for these mercenaries but i feel even worse for our troops who don’t have the proper equipment to protect themselves. the best protection would, of course, be to bring them home!

  9. Susan

    mercenaries is just a fancier term used for grown men that can’t or won’t leave the sand box. You remember those bullies…

  10. Linda M

    Good points, all of you. Exactly what I felt and said after viewing “Iraq for Sale”. The families of the dead mercenaries were very upset with Blackwater, not mentioning that their family member was there getting $100,000 per year. Although what Blackwater did is shameful and they should be held to account and pay for it, the greater shame is with the Administration that has promoted such “outsourcing”. And, I’ll bet those family members still voted for Bush in 2004. Most of the dead mercenaries were, to my recollection, from the South and Texas.

  11. Jason Shapiro

    Wayne, good point. Some day the Iraq mess will be over and there will be literally tens of thousands of mercenaries without much to do. Watch for Homeland Insecurity to outsource Border Patrol, airport security, port security, and ahem, various investigative functions, to these folks. These people are trained for “security jobs” but they are not going to work for Wal-Mart.