Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Blackwater saga keeps getting worse and worse
Just when we thought the Blackwater scandal in Iraq had faded from the headlines when the U.S. Army security contractor changed its name after five of its guards were indicted in an ugly shooting incident incident in Baghdad in 2007, comes word from Raleigh, N.C., that a different contractor claims Blackwater guards asked him to dispose of weapons after the shooting. According to the Associated Press, the other contractor, John Houston, was an employee of SOS International Ltd. of New York when he allegedly tried to smuggle a case of firearms out of Iraq. Houston now faces smuggling charges in federal court in Maryland based on testimony given by two informants, army reservists in Iraq, who told authorities they had been approached about the scheme, the AP said. The weapons were seized before they were shipped to an accomplice in the North Carolina, according to court papers, the AP said. The alleged accomplice, Michael Henson, also faces smuggling charges. Houston is a former Special Forces soldier. It is not clear, the AP said, whether the planned weapons shipment including the weapons used by Blackwater guards in the 2007 incident, which left 17 dead in Baghdad's Nisour Square. The bloody incident strained relations between the United States and the fledgling Iraq government, and led to last year's agreement to withdraw U.S. forces from the countryside to the cities by June and from the country in 2011.