The private military of Bush, Cheney and the GOP is in hot water again.
Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security company of defrauding the government for years by filing bogus receipts, double billing for the same services and charging government agencies for strippers and prostitutes, according to court documents unsealed this week.
In a December 2008 lawsuit, the former employees said top Blackwater officials had engaged in a pattern of deception as they carried out government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The lawsuit, filed under the False Claims Act, also asserts that Blackwater officials turned a blind eye to “excessive and unjustified” force against Iraqi civilians by several Blackwater guards.
Blackwater has earned billions of dollars from government agencies in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, when the company won contracts to protect American diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former employees who filed the lawsuit, a married couple named Brad and Melan Davis, said there was little financial oversight of the money.
Last year, an audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction and the State Department’s inspector general found that the State Department had overpaid Blackwater $55 million because the company had failed to adequately staff its teams assigned to protect American diplomats in Iraq.
The documents detailing the Davises’ accusations were unsealed after the Justice Department declined to join in the case against Blackwater, which last year changed its name to Xe Services. A Xe spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment about the case.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Davis said that she and her husband had decided to proceed with the case because “it’s the right thing to do,” and that it was time for “the truth from inside the company” to be made public. If the government is able to recover money from Blackwater as a result of the lawsuit, the Davises could claim a percentage as whistleblowers.
Mr. Davis, a former Marine, performed a number of jobs for the company, including working as a private security guard in Iraq.
Ms. Davis was fired from the company, and she is challenging the legality of her dismissal. Mr. Davis voluntarily resigned from the company.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Davis raised concerns about the company’s bookkeeping with her bosses in March 2006, when she was handling accounts for the company’s contracts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit claims she was told to “back off,” and that she “would never win a medal for saving the government money.”
Ms. Davis also asserts that a Filipino prostitute in Afghanistan was put on the Blackwater payroll under the “Morale Welfare Recreation” category, and that the company had billed the prostitute’s plane tickets and monthly salary to the government...
Inserted from <NY Times>
Keith Olbermann had some excellent background on this story.
Now I know that prostitutes in US Embassies are a common occurrence, but extending that recreation from diplomats to hired thugs at taxpayer expense is absurd. And that is the least of the complaints. Using mercenaries to protect our diplomats is nothing but Bush/GOP scheme to transfer wealth from the lower and middle classes to corporate cronies. This company costs several times what military personnel used to cost. They are a stain on our reputation, and their GOP storm-trooper tactics put our diplomats even more at risk. Obama is clearly on the wrong page by continuing to use them. Isn’t it time we fired America’s foulest and returned it to America’s finest?