According to the LA Times, the family of an Iraqi guard killed by a Blackwater employee on Christmas Eve has not yet received any compensation for the man’s death. The reason? The office of Iraq’s Vice President, which employed the dead guard, doesn’t think that Blackwater is offering enough compensation. They’re right.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the incident, here’s a quick review: off-duty and apparently intoxicated Blackwater employee gets into “confrontation” with on-duty security guard for Iraq’s vice president. Blackwater employee shoots guard 3 times, killing him. Blackwater employee then flees to a security post manned by another “contractor.” He tells them that he’s being chased by Iraqis who were shooting at him, but is so obviously drunk that the other guards confiscate his weapon. He’s fired for being drunk and in possession of a firearm, and is on his way home within 36 hours. Within 8 weeks, he’s been hired by another “contractor” and is working for the US government in Kuwait.
The State Department initially suggested that Blackwater pay the family of the dead guard $250,000, but that figure was reduced after both the Diplomatic Protective Service (part of the State Department) and Blackwater argued that such a high payment would – wait for it – encourage Iraqis to “get themselves killed.” Blackwater suggested, and the State Department agreed, that $15,000 would be a more appropriate sum. The Iraqis declined to accept that amount, and the offer has apparently been increased to $20,000, but the Iraqis continue to hold out for more.
More power to them.
Let’s put that $15,000 in perspective, shall we? Forget, for a moment, that we’re talking about less than the cost of the average new car. Don’t bother considering the $100,000 tax-free death gratuity that the US government pays the families of servicemembers who die on active duty. Let’s just put this in terms of what Blackwater is charging the US government for it’s “contractors.” The $15,000 Blackwater offered works out to less than what they charge the government for providing one “protective security specialist” for two weeks. That, apparently, is what they are willing to pay when one of their “specialists” gets drunk and blows away someone for no good reason.
It’s a good thing for Blackwater that they’re doing business somewhere that actually fits the conservative “the government that governs least, governs best” ideal. Can you imagine what would happen to them if this case actually went in front of a US jury? Forget $15,000. They’d be lucky to get away with a 1,500,000 penalty.
Speaking of what would happen in front of a US jury, I’ll have something up tomorrow on how Blackwater is trying like crazy to avoid a US jury in a different case.