US Rep. Peter Welch is urging the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate whether Blackwater Worldwide — now known as Xe Services — bribed Iraqi officials following a September 2007 shooting incident.
According to a New York Times story, Blackwater executives authorized $1 million in bribes to Iraqi Interior Ministry officials in order to silence criticism of the 2007 incident, during which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.
Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, who wrote the book — literally — on Blackwater's rise to power as a U.S. military contractor, has additional details about the 2007 incident in a recent Nation article. If the bribery allegations are true, Scahill notes, Blackwater (Xe) could also be charged with impeding a federal investigation. After the shooting, FBI agents flew to Iraq to investigate.
"Blackwater has earned a reputation as a reckless and dangerousorganization. Early reports indicate that Blackwater may have violatedthe Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and potentially interfered with agrand jury inquiry by issuing these bribes," wrote Welch. "The United Statesgovernment simply cannot turn a blind eye to such actions."