“Respect my a-thor-ih-tie!”
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AP / Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON – A Senate investigation accuses the Army of turning a blind eye when a Blackwater subsidiary hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared “sidearms for everyone” even though employees weren’t authorized to carry weapons.
The inquiry by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that contractors for Paravant, the Blackwater subsidiary under investigation, also took hundreds of weapons intended for the Afghan National Police. On at least one occasion, someone signing for a weapons shipment used the name “Eric Cartman.” The Washington Independent reports:
Blackwater personnel appear to have gone to exceptional lengths to obtain weapons from U.S. military weapons storehouses intended for use by the Afghan police. According to the committee, at the behest of the company’s Afghanistan country manager, Ricky Chambers, Blackwater on at least two occasions acquired hundreds of rifles and pistols from a U.S. military facility near Kabul called 22 Bunkers by the military and Pol-e Charki by the Afghans. Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of all U.S. military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, wrote to the committee to explain that “there is no current or past written policy, order, directive, or instruction that allows U.S. Military contractors or subcontractors in Afghanistan to use weapons stored at 22 Bunkers.”
On one of those occasions, in September 2008, Chief Warrant Officer Greg Sailer, who worked at 22 Bunkers and is a friend of a Blackwater officer working in Afghanistan, signed over more than 200 AK-47s to an individual identified as “Eric Cartman” or possibly “Carjman” from Blackwater’s Counter Narcotics Training Unit. A Blackwater lawyer told committee staff that no one by those names has ever been employed by the company. Eric Cartman is the name of an obnoxious character from Comedy Central’s popular “South Park” cartoon.
The findings by Democratic staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee paint a disturbing picture of lawlessness that contributed to the May 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians and fed anti-Western sentiment in the region.
“Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and with almost no consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow,” said Sen. Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman.
“Even one irresponsible act by contractor personnel can hurt the mission and put our troops in harm’s way,” Levin said.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the company, which is now known as Xe Services, said management was taking steps to address shortcomings in the program when the shootings occurred.