State Department Cancels Iraq Contract With Blackwater

The State Department will not renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract for securities services in Iraq, according to media reports today, ending one of the most controversial government deals in recent memory.

Blackwater and its affiliates have received about $1.3 billion this decade -- most of it through State Department contracts. The firm's revenue increased even as the company faced allegations that some employees murdered Iraqi civilians and overcharged the government.

The company rose extraordinarily fast, in part because of its reputation as a tough, no-nonsense operation that moved quickly, trained uncounted military and law enforcement officials and did what was necessary to protect clients, even though it was often accused of being heavy handed.

"They're the Cadillac of training services," one law enforcement authority said in the fall of 2007. "You've got the best of the best teaching close-quarter-combat tactics."

In a hearing about the firm that same year, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings gave voice to critics' concerns when he questioned whether Blackwater has "created a shadow military of mercenary forces that are not accountable to the United States government or to anyone else."

Some critics attribute Blackwater's success to the political connections of owner Erik Prince, a big contributor to conservative and Christian causes. As the Post reported, in 2007, Prince "was a White House intern under President George H.W. Bush. His political donations over the past two decades total almost $263,000 to Pat Buchanan, Oliver North, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and former senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, among others. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is former chairwoman of the Republican party in Michigan."

State Department's latest move raises a host of questions: Why State kept ramping up spending on the contract, even in the face of serious questions about the company? Why they're bailing out now? Who will replace the firm's hired guns in Iraq? Can the government itself provide the same level of security in Iraq? Government Inc. suspects not, at least for now.

Also, does this change have any impact on the firm's other lucrative deals with the feds?

Here's what the AP had to say:

"The State Department will not renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq when it expires in May, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

"The official told The Associated Press that the contract will expire because of the Iraqi government's decision to deny Blackwater a license to operate. The Iraqis informed the State Department last week of the cancellation, which was made amid lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

"The official said that renewing the contract was "basically a moot point because they were not going to be allowed to operate in Iraq anyway." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has yet to be announced.

"The State Department said that it was still considering options on how to protect U.S. diplomats in the wake of the Iraqi denial of Blackwater's operating license.

"Officials have said one possibility would be to replace Blackwater with one or a combination of guards from two other U.S.-based security contractors that work for the State Department in Iraq, DynCorp and Triple Canopy. Both have licenses to operate in Iraq."

From ABC's Brian Ross and Kirit Radia:

"Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

"Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations.

"In a statement, company spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, 'The company has always said that the security services we provide in Iraq would be temporary.'"

By Robert O'Harrow |  January 30, 2009; 4:40 PM ET Contract workers , iraq , security
Previous: More Contracting Oversight On Capitol Hill | Next: More Security Problems Turn Up At Los Alamos


Please email us to report offensive comments.

They'll just change their name and reapply. Let me guess- the new name will be 'Whitewater'.

Posted by: hairguy01 | January 30, 2009 4:49 PM

Um, no. Actually they grew due to their connections to Bush, cheney and condo-sleeza based on massive campaign donations.

They are a textbook case of pay-to-play political donations.

Posted by: Heerman532 | January 30, 2009 4:55 PM

Imagine, they waited till Cheney was gone. I wonder if there was any connection? :^)

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | January 30, 2009 5:25 PM

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings gave voice to critics' concerns when he questioned whether Blackwater has "created a shadow military of mercenary forces that are not accountable to the United States government or to anyone else."

Rep. Cummings is exactly RIGHT.

Here’s my take on this criminal enterprise:

Blackwater is a criminal enterprise and its evangelical fundamentalist founder, Erik Prince, is a war profiteer. Blackwater is really danger to our democracy—fifth column, if you will. Blackwater is autonomous enterprise with armies of maritime, special ops, air force capabilities, intelligence wings and many modern sophisticated weaponry that are NOT accountable to anyone. It answer NOT to the US government, any state government (hence, state militia, etc), NONE! In essence, Eric Prince is not that much different from an Afghan war lord, except he’s more deadly.

Kudos to the State Department and Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: JHigginss | January 30, 2009 5:44 PM

uh, no, its reputation had nothing to do with its rise. it was the reichwing tendencies and political connections of erik prince.

good on clinton. i wasn't sure she would do it. now to ferret them out from the other federal agencies; and to ensure they don't burrow in domestically.

Posted by: mycomment | January 30, 2009 7:26 PM

Blackwater's contract should never have been awarded in the first place! That Mercenary scumbag Erik Prince and his entire cabal of war criminals should be prosecuted by the Iraqi government-not coddled by Justice/ State Dept. hacks like Hillary or Eric Holder!! The mercenary swine responsible for the needless Iraqi deaths in Nisour Square should be handed over to the Sovereign government of Iraq and the survivors allowed to sue Blackwater into complete bankruptcy. As for JHiggins's comment, he/she was initially right with his/her incisive analysis about Erik Prince and his political connections to the evangelicals like Dobson, Hagee et al, but I gotta tell you Higgy baby, as a former New Yorker that Clinton was a pathetic senator for NY, and now she has shown herself to be nothing more than a shrewish mouthpiece for her AIPAC paymasters while running the State Dept!! Her Zionist attitudes render moot any kind of impartial resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they speak volumes about the unconditional US support of Israel, to countless people in Europe and the Middle East (A FACT vividly illustrated during the 2006 Lebanon war). She was poor choice for the NY Senate, and she is a VERY POOR choice for State!!! The very people whom she is seeking to target as an audience in order to display some erroneous sense of fairness will not be fooled-especially after it became known that the US had openly supplied Israel with white phosphorous shells and DIME ordinance, the latter of which was used experimentally on the Gazan population!!!

Posted by: SMMajid_1 | January 30, 2009 7:35 PM

I'm from Illinois: yup - we have them all - from Lincoln to Obama to our former governor. Unfortunately, we also have a Blackwater training facility near Elizabeth, Illinois. That's about 50 miles from my home. Blackwater was grandfathered into an area that was zoned for agriculture. When a teacher I know went to "test the waters", he was assured that yes indeed he could take a submachine gun training class. NOT LEGAL. We are called "Clearwater". There's muddy waters on our prairie at the moment, but we're betting not for long.

Posted by: truepeace | January 30, 2009 7:50 PM

I'm from Illinois: yup - we have them all - from Lincoln to Obama to our former governor. Unfortunately, we also have a Blackwater training facility near Elizabeth, Illinois. That's about 50 miles from my home. Blackwater was grandfathered into an area that was zoned for agriculture. When a teacher I know went to "test the waters", he was assured that yes indeed he could take a submachine gun training class. NOT LEGAL. We are called "Clearwater". There's muddy waters on our prairie at the moment, but we're betting not for long.

Posted by: truepeace | January 30, 2009 7:51 PM

Hooray for Hillary! Finally the end of Cheney's evil evangelical private army.

Posted by: coloradodog | January 30, 2009 7:59 PM

How will we protect US diplomats in Iraq now? I thought we had an army over there....

Posted by: thrh | January 30, 2009 8:09 PM

Whiny fgts ITT

Posted by: obblehit | January 30, 2009 8:37 PM

Good deal!
Mercenaries always make me puke!

Posted by: analyst72 | January 30, 2009 8:58 PM

So, will we be adding this to President Obama's impressive list of first ten days accomplishments:

(#14) Fire out-of-control mercenary corporation.

(#15) Reassign U.S.M.C. for overseas protection of U.S. diplomats.

(#16) Publicly SLAM WallStreet CEO's for huge undeserved bonuses.

The far-right and former "moral majority" must be FUMING over this progress. LoL

This new President is getting things done at a pace that I think is impressing the hearty majority of American voters who elected him! While many still don't give America much of a chance at a quick comeback (from the brink of ruin), I think we can do it...we now have effective leadership!


Posted by: free-donny | January 30, 2009 9:53 PM

More change I can believe in!

Imagine, an Uncle Tom getting elected to any post at the RNC, let alone its front man/mouth piece job...were it not for Obama.

Like I said a few months ago, it will be 16 years before the Republicans matter again on the national stage. All you Bush/Cheney voters, Blackwater is Exhibit A.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 30, 2009 10:56 PM

We have experienced what it is like to live under evangelical, ultra-right-wing plutocrats. They do what they please. They do it in secret. They flout the laws. They gum up the works so they won't be questioned let alone prosecuted. In the end, like a certain German chancellor, they leave the country in ruin and leave office. The Iraq War would have been quite a problem for the previous administration had they sought to fight it with draftees. They had Blackwater in their back pocket to award billions to in sole-source contracts. All very cozy for those inside the circle of delusion.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | January 30, 2009 11:34 PM

WOW, I am absolutely stunned with what I just read. Not the article, but the comments. I think a reality check is in order. This has nothing to do with our new Pres. or even the policies of our government, simple reading comprehension and a little common sense will show that the decision to not renew BW's contract is direct result of their denial of a business license by the Iraqi government. Why would the Dept. of State hire someone who can't work for them? Also, $1.3 billion in the last decade! OH MY GOSH! Drop in the bucket if you ask me considering that it costs us about $10 billion A MONTH to fund the campaign in Iraq. What's even more astounding, is the cost of diabetes on our society. I bet you didn't know that in 2007, diabetes cost our country $174 billion. Or how about the biggest contracted company in Iraq, KBR. Who has been awarded contracts which far exceed the amount and scope of any security company. Not only that, they have been implicated in the deaths of dozens of our soldiers by electrocution through shoddy wiring, and also an overwhelming rises in the rates of overweight soldiers in a war zone. I repeat, over weight soldiers in a warzone! Not to mention, an obscure story of a suit filed against them for trafficking in humans. Over 30 people have been killed in the line of duty working for blackwater, and the number of contractors from all companies killed totals over 100. I suppose the animals that killed these mercenaries along with the thousands of soldiers who met their demise in the same ways should be commended for their bravery? And I always find it funny, that stories like these always seem to find some sort of link to Israel, or a zionist conspiracy of some sort. This is the typical weak-minded defensiveness that leads to things like the holocaust. There are two sides to every story, though I am sure this will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. For you who have not a clue, may God have mercy on your souls, and I pray that my faith in the human race be somehow restored.

Posted by: donmagicjuan | January 31, 2009 5:15 AM

Here is my two cents….
JHigginss, you know about as much about Blackwater as I do quantum physics. I have a G.E.D. and can hardly manage long division. Comparing Erik Prince to an Afghan warlord is like comparing Orville Wright to Hermann Goring. Yeah, they were both guys, and both worked with planes, but one of the two was a Nazi and not so nice to others.

SMMajid_1, I sense that you might just be a bit of a quack. Judging by your screen name you’re probably an Egyptian college student squatting in the U.S., halfway through the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. What is all of this crap about the Zionists and conspiracies about testing weapons on the Gazans? Everybody knows that we tested the WP on the North Vietnamese back in the day and now the Israelis are trying to get rid of old stock before the expiration date passes. And you mention the 2006 war……bet you know all about that one too. I heard that the Israelis were attacking the poor and innocent people of Lebanon (Hezbollah) because they had lost a belching competition on the moon a week prior between Hassan Nasrallah and Ehud Olmert. Guys (or gals) like you still think Jews rule the world by proxy and that Osama Bin Laden was manufactured in a lab by the C.I.A. Your analysis on Blackwater, the State Department, the DOJ, and about everything else reflect why it is nobody likes to sit next to a smelly haj on an airplane. Forget the fact that they smell and always have some tinfoil hat conspiracy theory as to how the Zionists are oppressing the poor Palestinian people. No……guys like you run from your despot Arab states, come to the U.S. to exploit our prosperity, then turn and criticize us for not being more like you. Grow some intestinal fortitude and go do something other than blaming others for how badly you suck.

truepeace, we heard your crappy story the first time you posted it, no need to post twice. I have a buddy who once tried to go to a flamethrower course in Tibet given by PETA. NOT LEGAL.

BlueTwo1, did you just insinuate that President Bush was like Hitler? Why don’t you come out and say it if that is what you meant? If he was, turds like you probably wouldn’t have computers or internet access. You would be in a concentration camp somewhere with the rest of you guys who missed the three days in school when WWII history was taught. From what I remember, Hitler left office with a bullet to the dome, millions killed in death camps, and a capital city or two razed to the ground. Things are not so bad in the States, get a grip.

donmagicjuan, what up son? Yo, them KBR cafeterias have some good ice cream, huh? Remember those crazy dessert plates I used to make? I miss them days…….I wonder if this will get posted. I have to drop a duce. Be out

Posted by: wowyou_are_lost | January 31, 2009 6:44 AM

Ok…check this out. Lets just look at the personal safety aspect of this debate. If you were a U.S. diplomat and YOU had to go into the red zone to conduct business, who would YOU want protecting you? Let me give you some options…
You could have a military member take you…he would be driving you around and guarding you. He could possibly be 18 years old, never been away from home, just got his drivers license two years prior and never had any tactical drivers training, he could THINK he has PTSD because some doc told him he has it just because he is having a bad day.
But this is a sovereign nation right…we could just use their local law enforcement. Then you would be riding around in a broken down Land Cruiser that you couldn’t even pick up a hooker in. The driver is gonna have an AK-47 with maybe 3 mags. A CD hanging from one of his six rearview mirrors, listening to Arabic music while the driver is praying to a little string of anal beads he carries around all day.
Lets look at the third, obviously least popular, choice. You could have a team of well trained, well equipped men who all have extensive experience working in high threat environments. Not to mention, who have conducted over 18 THOUSAND missions and never lost a client or even had one endure any serious injuries. And do it all with a third of the amount of people the military would need to do it.
So before you all start bashing BW, you may want to put yourselves in the shoes of the people BW protects. And think if it was your life on the line you could go with the army guy who may have just got in country a week earlier, you could go with the anal bead guy, or the BW guys.
And since the cost is so important…when you’re making your decision, go ahead and let us all know who much YOUR life is worth.

Posted by: harrybalzonya | January 31, 2009 7:41 AM

To JHiggins and SMMajid you guys don't know what your talking about. You must have watched to many movies. By definition a mercenary soldier is some one who is paid to fight for a foreign government. Blackwater's job in Iraq is to protect US Goverment personnel. They are professional, well trained, level headed and cool under pressure. They have never lost a principal they protected since day one in Iraq. That is why I can't believe what I'm reading. Because they know the difference between an aggressor and a non-combatant. But the insurgents don't know the difference and they don't care.
If the facts concerning the incident on September 17, 2007 were known Blackwater would be exonerated.
Why don't you gentleman get your facts straight.

Posted by: helopilot | February 1, 2009 12:25 PM

Going back to the basic question: why does security need to be outsourced? Because we reduced our the military footprint after Vietnam. Take the cost of a decent size military off the books and bury the cost of outsourcing.

Either way you argue this, failure of the US to maintain a relevant military force who are accountable under the UCMJ has led to a myriad of problems and ultimately cost more than any value Blackwater or any other outsourced security agencies provided.

Posted by: axf56730 | February 2, 2009 9:39 AM

Let me guess.
The contract will go to Cherokee Nation. This mailbox entity already has contracts with the Government in other areas of expertise.
Not that Cherokee Nation has expertise in any field. They'll sub-contract to somebody who has the expertise. I give you three guesses who will get the sub-contract in this case, and the first two don't count.

Posted by: schumann-bonn | February 2, 2009 10:24 AM

With the "Kill them all and let God sort them out" attitude of these mercenaries, many of our armed forces have been killed because of their actions!

The goal of BlackWater in Iraq was not aligned with that of our military! It was in the best interest of BlackWater to keep things heated up in order to give them plenty of work to do.

These so called "Christian" outfits sure know how to omit the parts of the bible that does not meet their manner of operation!

Posted by: bobcegan | February 2, 2009 11:00 AM

There are men and women who work for Blackwater Worldwide and owe back child support for two years or more. They are child support evaders and should be held accountable while they are still in Iraq. Their passports should be lifted, and they be questioned by the US State Department before they can reenter the United States of America, paying their back and current child support first. Many are to provide health insurance for their children, and they refuse to do this as well. Blackwater Worldwide isn't a Christian group, they are purely control freaks who have major core issues.

Posted by: lgg51 | February 2, 2009 11:31 AM

If they're the cadilac of training services I'd hate to see the yugo.

Posted by: easysoul | February 2, 2009 4:39 PM

Well..what about Halliburton (KBR)? should they be next on the chopping block? is that the company Chaney was the CEO before he became VP?... and folks thinks President Obama spending package is too high...I Think Not compared to these contractors in the Bush-Chaney click.

Posted by: Chrisjj1948 | February 3, 2009 12:29 AM

Hey harrybalzonya, sorry but saving some State Department officials life is not worth risking the failure of the whole mission in Iraq. If they can't handle the risk they need to get into another line of work.
And another thing what could a USAID official possible have been doing that day that was more important than the lives of 17 innocent men, women, and children. Blackwater's tricked out automatic weapons and grenade launchers litterally turned small children inside out!

Posted by: markswisshelm | February 4, 2009 12:46 AM

Blackwater was not a simple pay-to-play arrangement, it is part of a far right subculture that wants to dominate the US. It is another facet of the militant Christians who are in armed forces training our recruits. There are instances of recruits being sermonized, "that they are fighting for the God of America". Blackwater is part of the same movement that ultimately wants to privatize our roads and schools, rewrite our history as providential, christo-centric narrative and freeze the constitution in time.

Posted by: BartStratton | February 4, 2009 11:27 AM

Very good news.Now prosecute these killers.
The war crimes tribunal wants these evil ass clowns!!

Posted by: moonandstars68 | February 4, 2009 1:29 PM

Employing Blackwater to work in Iraq without making it responsible to the American government shows the out-gone President Bush's heinous crime against humanity.Denying renewal of the contract with the criminal agency is indicative of the new government's sincerity to govern in the right direction,and which is in the interest not only of Iraqis but also of the Americans at large.

Posted by: moinuddin49 | February 5, 2009 1:51 PM

Blackwater employs the "best of the best"!They put their lives on-the-line to protect us.

Tom McKinney
Dunwoody, Georgia

Posted by: mckinneyt | February 6, 2009 1:38 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company