LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Blackwater USA guards have used deadly force weekly in Iraq and have inflicted “significant casualties and property damage,” according to a congressional staff report released Monday that cites internal company and State Department documents.
Blackwater’s contractors fired their weapons 195 times — or an average of 1.4 times a week — from the beginning of 2005 through the second week of September, the Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found.
In over 80 percent of the cases, Blackwater reports that its forces fired first, according to the staff report.
The committee will hear from Blackwater’s CEO Erik Prince on Tuesday.
Records of the company and State Department show Blackwater’s use of force in Iraq has been “frequent and extensive,” the report says.
Though Blackwater is authorized to use force only defensively, “the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are pre-emptive, with Blackwater forces firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire,” the report states.
A Blackwater contractor wrote an initial U.S. government report describing contractors’ involvement in a September 16 incident in which Iraqi civilians were shot, government and industry sources told CNN.
The Iraqi government claims Blackwater contractors, who were guarding a U.S. diplomatic convoy, killed as many as 20 civilians in western Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.