News / USA

US Senators Criticize Blackwater Contractors in Afghanistan

Meredith Buel

Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday were strongly critical of private contractors working for the company formerly known as Blackwater in Afghanistan, accusing them of ignoring regulations and threatening the American mission there.  

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee lambasted the contractors who worked for a company called Paravant, a subsidiary of Blackwater being paid to train members of the Afghan National Army.  

Two former employees, Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff, have been charged with killing two Afghans and injuring a third last year, an incident which fueled anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan.

In a separate occurrence, a contractor for the same company was riding on the back of a moving car when his AK-47 assault rifle discharged, seriously injuring one of the other trainers on his team.

A committee investigation of the company revealed that contracting personnel acquired hundreds of weapons, including more than 500 AK-47s, from a facility in Kabul that stores arms for use by the Afghan police.  The contractors were not authorized to be armed.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill says if members of the U.S. military were involved in such actions they would face immediate and serious consequences.

"If one of the Army had gone out there with an AK-47 they were not supposed to have on top of a moving vehicle and shot a guy in the head and paralyzed him something would have happened in that chain of command," said Claire McCaskill. "And if they had kept somebody on the force that had been using cocaine, that had been drunk, that had been charged with larceny that had done all these things these guys had done, they went out and killed Afghan people in the spring of 2009, something would have happened to them if they were in the military."

Senator McCaskill says most Afghans do not distinguish between private American contractors and members of the U.S. military.

She says reckless behavior by contractors is jeopardizing the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

"And what is killing me about this problem with Blackwater is we have two sets of rules and one image," she said. "And as long as we have two sets of rules and one image we are in trouble on this mission."

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, says Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and little consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow.

Levin says the alleged killing of Afghans by the contractors has hurt America's image and could make the military's mission more dangerous.

"We know what the ramifications are and they are still reverberating of that shooting in terms of the Afghan public distrust of so many of our activities there," said Carl Levin. "Still, we have to overcome that.  We gradually are.  Our whole strategy is to protect the public, to show them that we are not there to dominate, we are not there to control, we are there to help them control their own country against the menace that they face."

Blackwater has changed its name to Xe (pronounced Zee) Services and overhauled its management.

Fred Roitz, a vice president for Xe Services who had a similar position with Blackwater, appeared at the hearing and offered his condolences to the Afghan families affected by the shooting.

"The independent contractor's actions that night clearly violated company policies against the use of alcohol, unauthorized use of vehicles and taking weapons outside the training area," said Fred Roitz. "Those contractors are being held accountable by the law, as they should be."

Senator Levin says there are more than 100,000 U.S. Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan and most act responsibly and help execute the U.S. mission, sometimes at great risk to their own safety.

Xe Services continues to employ hundreds of personnel in Afghanistan and many are providing security in the country.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid