Rep. John Tierney, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, is pushing the Pentagon and the State Department to make Academi, formerly known as Blackwater (and formerly known as Xe) ineligible for federal contracts due to their violation of American law on the export of weapons.
A Massachusetts congressman is pressuring the State and Defense departments to consider suspending and disbarring Academi, the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater.
Democratic Rep. John Tierney is asking the agencies to reevaluate last month’s $7.5 million settlement by the North Carolina company over alleged weapons export violations, claiming the fine isn’t severe enough and expressing concern over Academi’s continued eligibility for government contracts.
“This has been a repeated problem that’s gone on — this isn’t a one-off situation, and it’s not just Blackwater,” Tierney said in an interview with POLITICO. “We’ve had companies taking millions of dollars from taxpayers, repeatedly making questionable decisions. … If we don’t hold them accountable, then it’s going to keep happening.”
He’s right, of course, but this is true of most big government contractors. The big defense contractors have all been fined significant amounts of money for violating a host of laws, for gouging the government through illegal billing and much more. United Technologies Corporation, the 8th largest federal government contractor, was recently fined $75 million for illegally transferring military helicopter technology to China. Boeing, the 2nd largest federal contractor, was fined $32 million for selling rocket technology to China. Haliburton has been fined tens of millions of dollars for skirting sanctions to do business in Iran and Libya, for bribing foreign officials, and for fraudulent billing. All of those companies receive billions and billions of dollars in federal contracts; the fines are just the cost of doing business for them.