Blackwater Requests a Correction
The private security company, renamed Xe Services, objects to my use of the verb “stole” to refer to the guns it got from the U.S. military in Afghanistan in 2008. A letter from its general counsel reads, in part:
Xe Services LLC disagrees with several statements and opinions in the on-line article by Spencer Ackerman yesterday (“DynCorp Wins Its Bid to Stop Blackwater’s Next Afghanistan contract — For Now”), but the statement that the company “stole guns intended for the Afghan police from a U.S. military depot near Kabul” is factually wrong and warrants correction. No guns were stolen. As documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee (“SASC”) demonstrate, the company obtained weapons from “Bunker 22,” which is an Afghan National Police weapons and ammunition storage facility (including weapons coalition forces seized from insurgents or discovered in caches often dating back to the Soviet occupation) whose operation is managed by U.S. military personnel. The company obtained these weapons with the knowledge and assistance of U.S. military personnel managing the facility. Therefore, these weapons could not have been stolen.
What Blackwater’s attorney neglects to point out is that the company’s employees obtained weapons from Bunker 22 from the U.S. military under false pretenses. Gen. David Petraeus affirmed to the committee that Blackwater was never authorized to carry guns kept at Bunker 22 (“there is no current or past written policy, order, directive, or instruction that allows U.S. Military contractors or subcontractors in Afghanistan to use weapons stored at 22 Bunkers”), commensurate with the broader fact that Blackwater employees in Afghanistan under Army subcontract were never allowed to carry weapons for their personal use. On at least one occasion, a person identifying himself as a Blackwater employee signed for hundreds of guns using the name “Eric Cartman,” apparently after the sassy “South Park” character who, appropriately, does what he wants without regard for authoritah. What’s more, according to committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) at the February hearing, Blackwater is still in possession of 53 guns from the U.S. military command in Afghanistan that it was never authorized to possess in the first place.
If Blackwater would prefer I write that it “took weapons from the U.S. military in Afghanistan under false pretenses” to writing that it “stole” those weapons, I am happy to oblige the company.