Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Feds probe Blackwater links to arms smuggling

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Feds probe Blackwater links to arms smuggling

    BAGHDAD - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C.

    The U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina, George Holding, and a spokeswoman for Blackwater did not return calls seeking comment Friday. Pentagon and State Department spokesmen declined to comment.

    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a review of security practices for U.S. diplomats in Iraq following a deadly incident involving Blackwater USA guards protecting an embassy convoy.

    Rice’s announcement came as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad resumed limited diplomatic convoys under the protection of Blackwater outside the heavily fortified Green Zone after a suspension because of the weekend incident in that city.

    Early stages of investigation
    Officials with knowledge of the case said it is active, although at an early stage. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, which has heightened since 11 Iraqis were killed Sunday in a shooting involving Blackwater contractors protecting a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad.

    The officials could not say whether the investigation would result in indictments, how many Blackwater employees are involved or if the company itself, which has won hundreds of millions of dollars in government security contracts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is under scrutiny.

    In Saturday’s editions, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that two former Blackwater employees — Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth “Max” Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. — are cooperating with federal investigators.

    Cashwell and Grumiaux pleaded guilty in early 2007 to possession of stolen firearms that had been shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, and aided and abetted another in doing so, according to court papers viewed by The Associated Press. In their plea agreements, which call for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the men agreed to testify in any future proceedings.

    Calls to defense attorneys were not immediately returned Friday evening, and calls to the telephone listings for both men also were not returned.

    The News & Observer, citing unidentified sources, reported that the probe was looking at whether Blackwater had shipped unlicensed automatic weapons and military goods to Iraq without a license.

    The paper’s report that the company itself was under investigation could not be confirmed by the AP.

    Turkish complaint led to internal probe
    In the United States, officials in Washington said the smuggling investigation grew from internal Pentagon and State Department inquiries into U.S. weapons that had gone missing in Iraq. It gained steam after Turkish authorities protested to the U.S. in July that they had seized American arms from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, rebels.

    The Turks provided serial numbers of the weapons to U.S. investigators, said a Turkish official.

    The Pentagon said in late July it was looking into the Turkish complaints and a U.S. official said FBI agents had traveled to Turkey in recent months to look into cases of missing U.S. weapons in Iraq.

    Investigators are determining whether the alleged Blackwater weapons match those taken from the PKK.

    It was not clear if Blackwater employees suspected of selling to the black market knew the weapons they allegedly sold to middlemen might wind up with the PKK. If they did, possible charges against them could be more serious than theft or illegal weapons sales, officials said.

    The PKK, which is fighting for an independent Kurdistan, is banned in Turkey, which has a restive Kurdish population and is considered a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department. That designation bars U.S. citizens or those in U.S. jurisdictions from supporting the group in any way.

    Probe perhaps accidently made public
    The North Carolina investigation was first brought to light by State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, who mentioned it, perhaps inadvertently, this week while denying he had improperly blocked fraud and corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Krongard was accused in a letter by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, of politically motivated malfeasance, including refusing to cooperate with an investigation into alleged weapons smuggling by a large, unidentified State Department contractor.

    In response, Krongard said in a written statement that he “made one of my best investigators available to help Assistant U.S. Attorneys in North Carolina in their investigation into alleged smuggling of weapons into Iraq by a contractor.”

    His statement went further than Waxman’s letter because it identified the state in which the investigation was taking place. Blackwater is the biggest of the State Department’s three private security contractors.

    The other two, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, are based in Washington’s northern Virginias suburbs, outside the jurisdiction of North Carolina’s attorneys.

  • #2
    LOL!

    My former company, DynCorp is linked! Big surprise there... wankers.

    Comment


    • #3
      This is where "privatization" leads.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
        This is where "privatization" leads.
        Well, no. Selling weapons to questionable groups happen to occur in government run military and campaigns as well, for example, in the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
          This is where "privatization" leads.
          Actually, I helped the Army CIS trace this to officers in the US Army in Vietnam. To keep it out of the press all that happened to them were they were shipped back stateside and retired.
          "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

          Comment


          • #6
            With all the weapons floating around Iraq, especially ex-Iraqi Army and Irani, why does the PKK need American arms that can be traced?

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
              This is where "privatization" leads.
              more apparent is the recent incident in baghdad. The Iraqi's are really upset about this and I don't blame them, having "mercenaries" who are outside military justice shoot up civilians (whatever the circumstances) would get anyone riled up.

              I have said it before, and I'll say it again, privatization could gut the U.S. armed forces.

              to look at examples from history, generally when one relies on mercenaries it means one is incapable of defending one's self.
              Last edited by AvramL; 25 Sep 07, 02:47.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by AvramL View Post
                more apparent is the recent incident in baghdad. The Iraqi's are really upset about this and I don't blame them, having "mercenaries" who are outside military justice shoot up civilians (whatever the circumstances) would get anyone riled up.

                I have said it before, and I'll say it again, privatization could gut the U.S. armed forces.

                to look at examples from history, generally when one relies on mercenaries it means one is incapable of defending one's self.
                Now, now, let us not jump to instant conclusions based upon the mass media. A second look at this 'incident' is show that the first part of the convoy carrying the diplomats made it through and the second half was literally ambushed with people firing small arms at them dressed in civilian clothes and Iraqi police uniforms.

                I will agree with you that I too am very leary of using mercenaries, no matter what their title is.
                "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by trailboss49 View Post
                  Now, now, let us not jump to instant conclusions based upon the mass media. A second look at this 'incident' is show that the first part of the convoy carrying the diplomats made it through and the second half was literally ambushed with people firing small arms at them dressed in civilian clothes and Iraqi police uniforms.

                  I will agree with you that I too am very leary of using mercenaries, no matter what their title is.
                  I'm not jumping to conclusions, I have no idea what happened. My point was that it is moot, since the Iraqi people already resent the presence of foreign mercenaries (and really, can you blame them?).

                  There is a difference between when U.S. forces accidentally kill civilians and when the personnel of a PMC do so. I contend that people are more inclined to forgive the former.

                  Comment

                  Latest Topics

                  Collapse

                  Working...
                  X