On Sept. 16, 2007, a Blackwater convoy opened fire in Iraq’s crowded Nissor Square, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding dozens more. The incident set off a backlash of criticism against the contractor, and earlier this year, Iraq said that it wouldn’t issue Blackwater a new operating license. Today, the New York Times reports that in 2007, top executives at Blackwater approved $1 million to bribe critical Iraqi officials into supporting the company, although it is unclear whether the money ever made it to the intended recipients:
Blackwater’s strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. […]
The former Blackwater executives said it was not clear who proposed paying off Iraqi officials. But after Mr. Jackson, the former company president, approved the plan, the cash for the payoffs was taken from Amman and given to Rich Garner, then a top manager in Iraq, the former executives said. One of those executives said that officials in Iraq’s Interior Ministry, which is responsible for operating licenses, were the intended recipients.
Five Blackwater guards involved in the shooting now face federal manslaughter charges.