Rep. Wants Blackwater Punished for Misconduct

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.

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  • And I would also like to have a matched pair of miniature schnauzer/unicorn crosses for house pets. I’m likely to get them before anything is done to rein in Erik Prince or his minions.

  • Michael Heath

    The relevant question in reference to all these fines is whether the fine was sufficiently punitive to change federal contractor behavior. The answer appears obvious with no further research needed to make such a conclusion.

    I’d really like to see juries set damages for this sort of misbehavior, with 8-4 being a sufficient vote.

  • Aliasalpha

    Fines for selling military secrets to a foreign power? Isn’t that a teeny weeny bit like the definition of treason?

  • slc1

    I would much rather see slimeballs like Erik Prince sent to the slammer.

  • sivivolk

    I’m curious as well why there haven’t been jail terms for illegally selling military technologies to foreign powers.

  • cry4turtles

    It seems as if these astronomical fines are just a drop in the bucket for these companies. That’s effin insane!

  • The advertising keyword algorithm strikes again. When I clicked on this post the first ad I saw was for Honeywell’s engine upgrade for the BK117 helicopter. It’s not strictly a military ad, since the BK117 is a fairly common air ambulance helicopter in many places, but still amusing given the context.

  • Crudely Wrott

    What better reason to bring back the pillory?

    Sunday! At your town square!

    See the self-centered bastards disabused of their illusions of immunity and privilege!

    See the forfeiture of ill-gotten gains!

    Hear the plaintive cries and time-worn protestations!

    Bring your children! Bring your mother! Plenty of rotten produce for all!

    Prizes galore for the best throws in four different age groups!

    Sunday! Be there or be square!

    (Potluck dinner to follow the fun. Bring something to share if you can still afford it.)

  • stace

    So Blackwater/Xe has now become Academi, hmm,that sounds kind of elitist and Frenchified. How many times do they rebrand until they become The Soft Pink and Fluffy Bunnies?

  • Abby Normal

    If you really want to cut off Blackwater’s access to the government spigot, just start a rumor that they perform abortions, distribute condoms, or register poor voters.

  • baal

    I seem to recall that under the lesser Bush regime there was a two part argument.

    1)Blackwater was outside of the US so US law doesn’t apply

    2) as a military contractor they were shielded / exempt from foreign national or local laws

    (a parallel argument was used to say Guantanamo detainees have no legal ability to sue for Habeus Corpus)

    Utter BS but sounds just fine to rightist legal scholars and judges.