Helicopters to Afghanistan: Blackwater Subsidiary Flouted German Arms Export Laws
A subsidiary of the US private security firm Blackwater flouted German arms export law, the US diplomatic cables have revealed. The company, Presidential Airways, didn't want to wait to get the proper export permit, so it simply transported the aircraft to Afghanistan via third countries.
Blackwater founder Erik Prince (2007 photo): A Blackwater subsidiary bypassed German arms export law, the diplomatic cables have revealed.
The controversial US private security firm Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services, has mainly been criticized in the past over the use of excessive force in Iraq. Confidential American diplomatic dispatches now show that another company belonging to Blackwater founder Erik Prince exported German military helicopters to Afghanistan with scant regard for German law.
Presidential Airways purchased three SA-330 J "Puma" helicopters in Germany for use in providing logistical support to US forces in Afghanistan. But because it was taking too long to get the necessary German export permit, and its employees didn't want to wait, they simply took the helicopters out of the country in October 2008, first to Britain, and then on to Turkey.
In so doing, Presidential ignored advice from both the German Economics Ministry and the US Office of Defense Cooperation that their actions were illegal under German law. A concerned William Timken, the then US ambassador to Germany, warned the State Department that "the issue could become public in Germany and would take on proportions well beyond the significance of a few helicopters given the widespread public skepticism about Germany's engagement in Afghanistan." He therefore called for the relevant US government agencies "to examine this matter immediately" and to "encourage" Presidential to keep the helicopters in Turkey for the time being.
<<175864>> 10/30/2008 6:29 08BERLIN1467 Embassy Berlin SECRET
VZCZCXYZ0003 PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHRL #1467/01 3040629 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 300629Z OCT 08 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2490 INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0654 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0572 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9354 RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 1505 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY TAGS: KOMC, ECCT, AF, GM SUBJECT: ATTEMPTED EXPORT OF GERMAN-ORIGIN HELICOPTERS TO
S e c r e t berlin 001467
Sipdis eur/ce for hodges and schroeder t/pm/ddtc for maloney, trimble and zerden dod for defense security cooperation agency dsca for maj. Orenchick dod for defense contracting command centcom for col. Kulvas eucom / transcom for lno siers
E.o. 12958: decl: 10/31/2033 Tags: komc, ecct, af, gm Subject: attempted export of german-origin helicopters to afghanistan
Classified By: A/DCM Robert A. Pollard, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) This is an urgent action request. See comment and action requests in paragraphs 11 and 12.
2. (S) Summary: Embassy Berlin has become aware that a U.S. firm, Presidential Airways, appears to have moved German-origin helicopters to Turkey, with the intent of moving them NLT 30 Oct to Afghanistan, in likely violation of German export law. Presidential Airways is moving these helicopters to Afghanistan for the stated purpose of providing contracted-for logistical services for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The original export control case is being reviewed at very senior levels of the GOG. If German authorities determine that Presidential Airways has violated German export control law, we expect negative consequences for U.S. - German relations. A possible solution to this is for the helicopters to remain in Turkey, pending the GOG's final decision on this matter.
3. (C) In approximately mid-September 2008, the vice-president of Presidential Airways, Mr. Tim Childrey, contacted Embassy Berlin's Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) requesting any assistance the ODC or Embassy Berlin could provide to secure a German Export License for three SA 330 J PUMA helicopters his company recently purchased from Eurocopter Deutschland. Presidential Airways purchased these helicopters for the stated purpose of executing its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide logistical air services to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
4. (C) ODC Germany worked with the Economics/Global Affairs section of Embassy Berlin and determined that the export license application was being discussed at senior levels of the German Foreign Ministry, and would likely not be acted upon until the next scheduled meeting of the German federal security council under direction of the Chancellor's Office. Presidential Airways is owned by the Prince Group, Inc. which also owns the Blackwater security company.
5. (C) Efforts by Prince Group personnel and lobbyists from Eurocopter Deutschland did not succeed in forcing an early decision. The Puma issue was slated for discussion at the November federal security council meeting. Presidential Airways has expressed concerns about what they viewed as the long time it was taking to obtain BAFA export permission. In reaction, Presidential Airways notified BAFA on 3 Oct 2008 that it had changed its plans and now intended to move the helicopters to the United States and/or the United Kingdom. In Presidential's view, this did not require an export license from BAFA.
6. (C) On 10 Oct 2008, Eurocopter Deutschland received a letter from the German Economics Ministry stating they had information that these helicopters were enroute to the Netherlands. Significantly, this letter warned that if these helicopters arrived in Afghanistan, this would constitute a violation of German law. Sometime between 10 and 27 October, these helicopters were flown from Germany, possibly to the Netherlands, then on to the UK, and finally to Turkey.
7. (C) On 27 Oct 2008, the Senior Legal Counsel for Eurocopter Deutschland, Dr. Kraemer forwarded the above-described letter from the German Econ Ministry to Mr. Childrey and Mr. Schmitz, as well as other German officials. Kraemer advised Presidential Airways it was taking the Pumas to the US and/or the UK, not Afghanistan; and reminded all of the possible legal consequences. Also on 27 OCT 08, ODC Germany received a copy of the above letters via e-mail from a member of the German Chancellor's Office.
8. (SBU) On 28 OCT 2008, ODC Germany contacted Mr. Childrey of Presidential Airways and inquired about the case. Presidential Airways informed ODC that the helicopters were in Turkey with a stated final destination of Afghanistan.
Childrey noted that his company could no longer afford to wait on the German decision, and had decided to take the helicopters to the UK, which he asserted required no German export license. (Note: this appears to be an unsupported legal conclusion. End note.) Once the helicopters reached the UK, Childrey believed U.S. law and procedures would apply. He claimed to have informed the U.S. State Department of his plan to fly the helicopters to Afghanistan (NFI). ODC Germany expressed grave concern for the way in which Presidential had handled this case, but legal counsel for Presidential stated that he was following U.S. law and did not understand why the Germans were upset.
9. (S) We have conflicting information on the likely disposition of this matter by Germany's Federal Security Council, currently scheduled for discussion on November 5th. However, it appears clear from all sources that any movement of the helicopters without permission from Federal Security Council will constitute a violation of German law.
10. (S) At no time did Embassy Berlin advise Presidential Airways to remove the Pumas from Germany without proper export permission or otherwise to circumvent the German export control process or German law. Presidential represented in its e-mails to U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation officials in Germany that it kept the U.S. State Department updated" of its plans to remove the helicopters and of its determination that the lack of response from the Germans amounted to their tacit consent. Embassy Berlin is unaware of any such communication.
11. (S) COMMENT: If Presidential Airways and the Prince Group have played a role in exporting German-origin helicopters to Afghanistan without the necessary German export permission, this could have wider effects on bilateral cooperation. Because the helicopters would be used to support U.S. forces (even though in a contractual relationship), it would be very difficult to entirely dissociate the USG from the matter. It would complicate relationships with German export control officials -- on whom we depend for cooperation on Iran-related issues and other key proliferation concerns. The issue could become public in Germany and would take on proportions well beyond the significance of a few helicopters, given the widespread public skepticism about Germany's engagement in Afghanistan and the presence of opportunistic opposition political forces (especially the Greens and The Left). This could complicate relationships with those senior officials in the Chancellery and Foreign Office with whom we currently have an excellent working relationship, but who would have to lead the damage control. END COMMENT
12. (S) Action Request: We are unaware of which, if in fact any, State Department Office Presidential or Prince Group approached on this matter. We ask the Department and other relevant USG agencies to examine this matter immediately and to encourage Presidential Airways not to move these helicopters from their current location in Turkey. Timken Jr
<<184355>> 12/22/2008 15:27 08BERLIN1705 Embassy Berlin SECRET 08BERLIN1467|08BERLIN1482 VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHRL #1705/01 3571527 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 221527Z DEC 08 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/HQ USEUCOM LO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2918 INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 0087 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0603 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 9442 RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1590 TAGS: KOMC, PGOV, PREL, ECCT, AF, GM SUBJECT: (S) GERMAN-ORIGIN HELICOPTERS EXPORTED TO REF: A. BERLIN 1482
S e c r e t berlin 001705
Sipdis Euro for eur/ce and eur/rpm t/pm/ddtc for maloney dod for defense security cooperation agency dsca for maj. Orenchick centcom for col. Kulvas eucom / transcom for lno siers and k. Johnson casares
E.o. 12958: decl: 12/24/2033 Tags: komc, pgov, prel, ecct, af, gm Subject: (s) german-origin helicopters exported to afghanistan: preparing for inquiries
Ref: a. Berlin 1482 b. Berlin 1467
Classified By: CDA John Koenig for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 14.
2. (S) Summary: The German Federal Security Council's (BSR) anticipated November 5 decision to allow the export of Puma helicopters to Afghanistan (Ref A) did not take place. Since then, Presidential Airways has moved the helicopters to Afghanistan without the required GOG permission. The GOG has again deferred action on this case and will not act before late January 2009. The situation now likely constitutes a violation of Germany's export laws. To date, CDA and EMIN have engaged with senior MFA officials and, while this matter has not yet become public, we expect that it could soon and request Department assistance in developing a coordinated interagency response. End Summary.
---------- background ----------
3. (S) As detailed in Refs A and B, Presidential Airways (PA) purchased three Puma helicopters in Germany from Eurocopter Deutschland (ED). PA anticipated using these in support of a contract to provide logistics and transport services in Afghanistan and sought an export license from the German export control authorities. This export case attracted attention at the highest levels of the German Government, reportedly including Chancellor Merkel. PA moved the helicopters from Germany, initially to Turkey, then Georgia, then Azerbaijan, without securing an export license. PA and the GOG had agreed informally in November to have the helicopters remain in Baku, Azerbaijan pending a GOG decision on the export permit application. Presidential Airways is owned by the Prince Group, Inc., which also owns the Blackwater security company.
--------------------------------- Chronology of Recent Developments ---------------------------------
4. (C) On November 4, ODC Germany forwarded a letter from PA to the German Chancellor's office stating PA would hold the Pumas in Baku until after the November 5 BSR meeting. The BSR failed to render a decision at its November 5 meeting.
5. (C) On November 11, PA sent a letter to Eurocopter Deutschland (ED) management outlining their position. PA had retained German legal counsel to represent them and contended that they violated no U.S. law by moving the Pumas. PA also asserted that, as the BSR failed to render a decision, the case was no longer before the German authorities and PA saw no reason to wait for a German export license.
6. (C) On November 26, ODC Germany sent an update to CENTCOM, TRANSCOM, and CJTF-101. ODC Germany believed the GOG required more detailed information on the helicopters before issuing a decision. ODC once again stressed to PA the need to hold the helicopters outside of Afghanistan pending a GOG decision.
7. (S) On December 1, a representative of the German Chancellor's office told PA's German counsel that a particular ministry (ODC Germany believes this to be the MFA) was pushing this issue to the full German cabinet for a decision and was not satisfied with having it decided by the BSR. The concerned ministry wanted to confirm some key
facts from its own sources rather then rely solely on PA's assurances.
8. (C) PA's attorney in the US subsequently advised ODC Germany that PA had grown tired of waiting for GOG action and believed that PA had no obligations or responsibilities to the GOG. Further, it saw no legal reason not to deploy the Pumas to Afghanistan. The PA attorney expressed his desire for the USG to "stand up" to the GOG and stated that the GOG was holding PA "hostage".
9. (S) On December 3, CDA spoke with MFA State Secretary Silberberg to request his assistance in securing BSR agreement for PA's export license given US operational needs in Afghanistan. Silberberg undertook to look into the matter. On December 5, the Chancellor's office notified ODC Germany that the concerned ministry had received satisfactory answers to their inquiries and that they would "reluctantly" agree with the other ministries and release the export license and the helicopters during a vote December 10.
10. (S) On December 5, ODC Germany received an e-mail from TRANSCOM stating that the 3 Pumas had "self-deployed" to Afghanistan. ODC passed this information to EUCOM and senior Embassy Berlin officials.
11. (S) On December 11, the Chancellor's office notified ODC Germany that the head of the concerned ministry had changed his mind and would not release his block on the export license. Further, he stated that he did not want the issue taken up again until the end of January.
12. (S) Throughout this case, CDA and EMIN have engaged proactively with their State Secretary and Director General counterparts at the MFA. However, Embassy Berlin is concerned that PA's analysis and recent actions violate German law and undermine US export control efforts.
---------------------- Balancing US Interests ----------------------
13. (S) Post understands and appreciates the operational requirement in Afghanistan for the three Pumas. However, export of German defense articles to a conflict zone is ordinarily prohibited; exceptions must pass through a special review and coordination process, culminating in the BSR, whose deliberations are generally regarded as highly sensitive and secret. If the facts were reversed, we imagine that the USG would find the present situation untenable and seek legal recourse. To illustrate the point, please consider the USG reaction to the following hypothetical, but analogous, series of events:
--A company from Germany purchases an export-controlled item in the US and receives an export license from the USG subject to the conditions that the items will NOT be re-exported without permission to a prohibited country such as Iran.
--Next, consider either of the following two scenarios:
A) The German company decides it wants to export the item to Iran after all. Without applying to BAFA (the German export controls agency) for German permission or to the USG under the terms of the export license, the German company "self-deploys" the items to Iran.
B) The German company DOES go to BAFA for an export license. BAFA, despite its understanding that the items are sensitive and restricted, nonetheless permits the re-export
to Iran to go forward, using the dubious argument that "the items aren't really German," so there is nothing they can do about it.
--In either case, we expect that US authorities would react strongly.
14. (S) Comment: PA's decision to move the helicopters, regardless of legality, undermines Mission Germany's efforts to cooperate on priority export control matters. The US is more often the exporter than the importer of sensitive defense articles; we have a broad interest in upholding the integrity of licensing systems. T he German authorities have been clear regarding the need for PA to obtain a license prior to transferring the Pumas to Afghanistan. We expect negative reactions from both senior German interlocutors and (if this case becomes public), German media. Post believes that a coordinated, consistent, inter-agency approach and response is urgently needed and request Department's assistance to develop such a position with DOD and relevant Commands. End Comment. Koenig
<<140317>> 2/7/2008 7:39 08BAGHDAD357 Embassy Baghdad CONFIDENTIAL 07BAGHDAD3668|07BAGHDAD3764|07BAGHDAD3767|07BAGHDAD4001|08BAGHDAD248 VZCZCXYZ0009 PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHGB #0357/01 0380739 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 070739Z FEB 08 FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5611 TAGS: AMGT, ASEC, PREL, PINS, IZ SUBJECT: IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS ON PERSONAL REF: A. A. 07 BAGHDAD 03668
C o n f i d e n t i a l baghdad 000357
E.o. 12958: decl: 02/07/2018 Tags: amgt, asec, prel, pins, iz Subject: implementation of recommendations on personal protective services: status report update #3
Ref: a. A. 07 baghdad 03668 b. B. 07 baghdad 03764 c. C. 07 baghdad 03767 d. D. 07 baghdad 04001 e. E. 08 baghdad 00248
Classified By: Patricia Butenis, Charge, for reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)
------- Summary -------
1. (C) This cable is the third update of Embassy Baghdad,s implementation of the relevant eighteen recommendations of the Secretary,s Panel on Protective Services. The following recommendations have been implemented by Post (reftel D):
A. (C) Kennedy Recommendation 12 - Joint Review Board B. (C) Kennedy Recommendation 17- Direct RSO Engagement with GOI Police and Security Officials; C. (C) Kennedy Recommendation 18 - RSO Response Team Facilitation to Embassy Claims Program.
2. (C) Embassy Baghdad has made significant progress on recommendations 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16 as outlined in this cable. Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 15 require Department action.
3. (C) This cable also provides an update on the Department of State-Department of Defense Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on private security companies, proposed Iraqi legislation concerning Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, and Embassy and Blackwater condolence payments in connection with the September 16 incident. End Summary.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Recommendation 2 - DOD and DOS Discussions with GOI on New Regulatory Framework for USG Private Security Contractors --------------------------------------------- ---------
4. (C) STATUS: ONGOING. The legal status of DOD contractors, including private security contractors, will be part of the negotiations between the USG and the GOI on a Status of Forces (SOFA) agreement expected to begin this month. The Department of State will seek to obtain similar agreement on immunities and related issues for DOS contractors separately.
--------------------------------------------- Kennedy Recommendation 4 ) Recommendation for Continued Contract Services of Blackwater ---------------------------------------------
5. (C) STATUS: ONGOING. FBI investigation of the September 16 incident has not concluded. However, the Blackwater contract expires in May 2008 and a decision on renewal may have to be made before the FBI investigation concludes.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 5 - RSO to be provided with DS Agents Staffing to Accompany PPS Movements --------------------------------------------- ---------
6. (C) STATUS: NEAR COMPLETION. Assistant Regional Security Officers (ARSOs) and TDY DS Special Agents (SAs) are assigned to command each Chief of Mission (COM) Personal Security Detail (PSD) operating in the Baghdad area under the WPPS contract. Fifty-two Special Agent positions and positions related to the oversight of all DOS Private Security Contractors (PSCs) in Iraq have been requested (reftel E) to include RSO coverage of non-RSO Chief of Mission (COM) PSD movements and coverage outside Baghdad. In late March, the first group of approximately 12 new Special Agents will arrive after completing training. This first group will be assigned to Regional Embassy Offices (REOs) and the Regional and Provincial Reconstruction Teams where DS has PSD responsibilities. In the short term, Post continues to maintain a staffing increase for this requirement through the use of DS TDY personnel.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 8 - Revisions to the Embassy Rules For the Use of Force --------------------------------------------- ---------
7. (C) STATUS: COMPLETED. The Baghdad Mission Firearms Policy has been revised and issued. The Rules for the Use of Force have been modified to make the language consistent with the common principles outlined in the DOS-DOD MOA.
8. (C) To reduce the number of lethal force incidents, Post has procured 24 Dazzlers. A Dazzler is a non-lethal light-emitting weapon designed for use against perceived vehicle threats as part of the graduated force response. On
February 20, instructors will initiate training to all PSD teams on its proper application.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 9 - Video Recording Equipment in Vehicles and Recording of Radio Communications --------------------------------------------- ---------
9. (C) STATUS: ONGOING/NEAR IMPLEMENTATION: DS Security Engineering Officers (SEOs) are installing the approved Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system into PSD vehicles in Baghdad. Each COM motorcade traveling into the Red Zone now has at least one vehicle with a camera system installed. A second installation team is arriving this week to continue the installation. The entire project is scheduled to continue through the spring with the short term goal of having at least two vehicles in every motorcade operating with cameras. Nearly 400 COM vehicles throughout Iraq will have cameras installed upon the completion of the project. Initial experience with the cameras has been very positive.
10. (C) IRM procured, built and tested a system that can simultaneously record 32 radio channels. The system is in the delivery stage.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 10 - Vehicle Identification Numbering System --------------------------------------------- ---------
11. (C) STATUS: NO CHANGE. RSO has engaged MNF-I on this issue and reviewed the operational security (OPSEC) concerns with respect to readable vehicle number signage. It is the collective assessment of the Embassy and MNF-I that a vehicle numbering system is only viable if all USG PSDs adopt the same numbering scheme and non-USG PSDs also agree to voluntarily adopt the same system. MNF-I is not inclined to support a numbering system solely for US Embassy Baghdad PSCs as it may offer enemy forces the ability to identify them as such and bring greater risk to COM movements. Post recommends that this recommendation be reconsidered in light of the extensive communications and de-confliction measures that have been put into effect by RSO, MNF-I, and MNC-I which are proving to be effective.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 11 - Investigations and RSO Response Unit --------------------------------------------- ---------
12. (C) STATUS: ONGOING/NEAR COMPLETION. RSO has established a Force Investigation Unit (FIU) consisting of a dedicated FIU supervisor and ARSO. The FIU currently draws upon other RSO personnel as needed. The PSD Serious Incident Investigation Handbook is in the DS approval process. RSO has requested Special Agent and contract investigator resources to fully staff this unit to 14 persons. The FIU will be responsible for the investigation of all serious incidents involving DOS-affiliated PSCs to include Tier I and Tier II private security contractors. Position descriptions have been written and funding is being pursued. The first meeting of the Embassy and MNFI Joint Incident Review Board will be conducted on February 12.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 13 - RSO AND MNF-I Procedures for Coordination, Liaison, and Operational De-confliction --------------------------------------------- ---------
13. (C) STATUS: AWAITING RSO LNO TO THE Multinational Corps ) Iraq (MNC-I)Joint Operations Center (JOC). RSO, MNF-I and MNC-I have developed commonly agreed operational procedures, liaison coordination and exchange of information, and a process for swift resolution of issues of mutual interest. RSO participates in the MNF-I Strategic Operations daily briefing and presents data on planned COM protective missions for the next 24 hours. An MNC-I liaison officer (LNO) was added to the RSO TOC and has been fully integrated into the RSO TOC's operations. The LNO provides enhanced visibility to MNC-I on PSD movements outside the IZ and serves as the focal point for coordination and situational awareness between RSO and battle space owners in Baghdad. An RSO LNO has been identified and will be assigned to the MNC-I Joint Operations Center to enhance coordination between the Embassy and MNC-I.
------------------------------------------ Kennedy Recommendation 14 ) PRC 152 Radios ------------------------------------------
14. (C) The procurement of additional communication capabilities is underway, with the arrival of the Harris PRC 152 handheld radio system expected by the end of February. These radios give PSDs the ability to contact military units
directly in the field to de-conflict issues or request medical evacuation and quick reaction forces.
--------------------------------------------- --------- Kennedy Recommendation 16 - GOI-US Joint Commission Working Group on PSC Licensing and Transparency --------------------------------------------- ---------
15. (C) STATUS: ONGOING. The Embassy, represented by the RSO, and the Multinational Forces ) Iraq (MNF-I), represented by the Chief of the Contractor Policy and Oversight Division (CPOD), continue to hold regular joint working group meetings with the Chief, Private Security Regulatory Division, Ministry of Interior, and his staff to address topics of mutual concern. Four meetings have been held to date.
--------------------------------------------- -------- Completion of Negotiations on the DOS-DOD MOA on PSCs --------------------------------------------- --------
16. (C) The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on private security companies, negotiated by the Embassy and MNF-I, was signed by the Deputies for State and Defense on December 5, 2007.
------------------------------------ Embassy Condolence Payments Continue ------------------------------------
17. (C) On November 26, 2007, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Acting RSO, and Acting Embassy Legal Adviser made condolence payments to one Iraqi who had been injured and to the widow and brother of an Iraqi who had been killed in the September 16 incident. All claimants accepted the payments. In addition, the Iraqi who suffered an injury informed the DCM that he had been punished for his absence at work when he was recovering from his injury. The DCM apologized and offered to write a letter to his employer explaining the cause of his absence, which was provided to the claimant at a later date.
18. (C) On December 27, 2007, the Deputy Chief of Mission, RSO, and Acting Embassy Legal Adviser made condolence payments to three Iraqis who had been injured and the widow of an Iraqi who had been killed in the incident. All claimants accepted the payments. The Embassy is continuing to work to obtain contact information for all of the potential claimants from the September 16 incident and plans to make additional payments in the future as it locates those claimants. To date, the Embassy has paid 132,500 dollars to claimants: 40,000 dollars to the families of 4 killed, 65,000 dollars to 13 injured, and 27,500 dollars to 11 claimants for vehicle damage.
------------------------------ Blackwater Condolence Payments ------------------------------
19. (C) On January 18, 2007, the DCM and RSO met with Blackwater representatives and were briefed on Blackwater,s intentions to make condolence payments to the victims of the September 16 Nisur Square incident and to obtain an operating license from the Ministry of Interior. In a change from Blackwater's previous position, the representatives said that Blackwater has hired a number of Iraqi attorneys, including one who has had significant experience dealing with MNFI on Iraqi claims cases, to work with local courts on payment issues and plans to follow procedures for payments as determined by local laws and regulations. Blackwater has set aside "a generous pot" of money for these payments and the Iraqi attorneys will be contacting survivors and relatives of the deceased. Representatives said that they intended to make payments to all claimants, including those with lawsuits pending in the United States, largely because they did not expect those lawsuits to be successful. They also said that they would take into account the specific requests and circumstances of the claimants where possible.
20. (C) Blackwater is also moving ahead with efforts to obtain an operating license from the Ministry of Interior (MOI), and said that through their lawyers' communications with the MOI they were told that Prime Minister Maliki would approve the licensing of Blackwater if condolence payments are made. They have received this same assurance from members of the Ministry of Interior responsible for licensing.
21. (C) The DCM told Blackwater that the Embassy believed it was morally correct for Blackwater to make condolence payments. She also indicated that while the Embassy welcomes this action by Blackwater, it will not have any effect on the DOS/Embassy decision on whether to retain Blackwater, and that in regards to the MOI licensing issue, under no circumstances could the Embassy approve of or in any way be
part of a bribery effort. The Blackwater representatives indicated that they understood and that the process would be straightforward and transparent.
22. (C) In follow-up communications with Blackwater, RSO provided a list of all known victims and their available contact information. As of January 31, Blackwater's Iraqi attorneys had been able to contact family members of 6 of the deceased victims, and 12 of the victims that had suffered injuries and/or property damage. They continue to reach out to the additional victims (about 20 more) and have enlisted the help of the Iraqi Police to locate the victims for which there is no contact information (Note: Blackwater has agreed to provide the Embassy with contact information for any victims they are able to locate but for which the Embassy did not have contact information or were not able to locate. The Embassy will make its own payments to any additional victims that it is able to locate in this manner. End Note.) Blackwater said that on February 1, 2008, their Iraqi attorneys would begin to meet with each of the victims to express their sympathy and to interview them to subsequently craft an individual condolence payment amount for each victim. On average, Blackwater said it expects they will pay at least twice as much as what the Embassy paid and substantially more for victims or families that were more significantly impacted by the incident. As an example, he cited a family that lost their bread winner, a man who was already supporting the families of four of his brothers whom had been killed as a result of sectarian violence.
----------------- CPA 17 Draft Law ---------------- 23. (C) There has been no change in the status of the draft law to repeal CPA Order 17. The Council of Ministers approved a draft law and voted to send it to the Council of Representatives, but to date the draft has not yet been transmitted to the CoR. Once submitted, the law could pass in as little as one to two weeks given existing procedures. There has not, however, been much discussion on this draft law in recent weeks. We have engaged the GOI in an effort to prevent the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs from submitting the proposed legislation to the CoR. In meetings with and in letters to GOI officials, we have highlighted the steps that the Embassy has taken to implement the Kennedy Report recommendations, the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of State and Department of Defense on USG PSDs that was recently signed, and the ongoing FBI investigation into the September 16 incident. Butenis
Presidential Airways was also suspected of conducting secret "extraordinary rendition" flights on behalf of the CIA, taking terror suspects to third countries to be interrogated.
Fingers in Many Pies
The embassy cables show Blackwater has its fingers in many different pies around the globe. Its security experts trained special forces and police units in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Azerbaijan as well as in Afghanistan, where they worked alongside German police trainers. In Chile, Blackwater apparently subcontracted a company called Red Tactica to recruit former Chilean police officers and soldiers, which it then sent to Iraq as mercenaries.
When the Iraqi government withdrew Blackwater's license following the Nisoor Square massacre in 2007, many of the company's employees simply went to other firms. In January 2010, the US Embassy in Baghdad reported that it "understands" that Triple Canopy, a contractor working for the US government, "currently employs several hundred former Blackwater employees," while DynCorp, another private security firm, also employed "dozens of ex-Blackwater employees".
In November 2009, suspicions arose that Blackwater had spent about a million dollars bribing Iraqi officials to ensure that it could remain in the country. At the time, a State Department spokesman claimed he knew nothing about the bribes.
The leaked diplomatic dispatches now reveal, however, that American representatives in Baghdad knew full well about Blackwater's shady dealings, and had attempted to distance themselves from the company a year earlier. The deputy US ambassador in Baghdad even stressed that "under no circumstances could the Embassy approve of or in any way be part of a bribery effort."
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