Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in 
Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story 
  Daniel J. Callahan and Marc P. Miles
Sunday June 10, 2007
  The following article is by the lawyers representing the families of four 
American contractors who worked for Blackwater and were killed in Fallujah. 
After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the 
families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now 
Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet.
  Raleigh, NC -- The families of four American security contractors who were 
burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated 
bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are 
reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very 
company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security 
Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. 
Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead 
men's estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of 
  Following these gruesome deaths which were broadcast on worldwide television, 
the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why 
their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving 
families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue 
Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families 
filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and 
politically-connected Erik Prince.
  Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It 
initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of 
the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who 
was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater 
employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica 
Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater 
hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter- Terrorist Center.
  After filing its suit against the dead men's estates, Blackwater demanded 
that its claim and the families' existing lawsuit be handled in a private 
arbitration. By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to 
move the examination of their wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public 
and away from a jury. This comes at the same time when Congress is 
investigating Blackwater.
  Over 300 contractors have been killed in Iraq with very little inquiry into 
their deaths. The families claim that Blackwater is attempting to cover up its 
incompetence, its cutting of corners in favor of higher profits, and its over 
billing to the government. Due to lack of accountability and oversight, 
Blackwater's private army has been able to obtain huge profits from the 
government, utilizing contacts established through Erik Prince's relationships 
with high-ranking government officials such as Cofer Black and Joseph Schmitz.
  In addition to assembling its litigation troops, Blackwater also stonewalled 
the families concerning any information about how the men were killed. Over the 
past two and a half years, Blackwater has not responded to a single question or 
produced a single document. When the families' attorneys, Callahan & Blaine, 
obtained a Court Order to take the deposition of a former Blackwater employee 
with critical information about the incident, Blackwater quickly re-hired him 
and sent him out of the country. When the witness returned to the United States 
more than a year later, the families obtained another Court Order for his 
deposition. Blackwater again prevented them from taking his deposition by 
seeking the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office to block the deposition 
under the guise that he possibly possessed national secrets. Following an 
investigation, the U.S. Army reported that the witness had no secret 
information and that it had no objection to the deposition.
  Blackwater has now lifted this atrocity to a whole new level by going on the 
offensive and suing the families for $10 million. The families now find 
themselves looking down the barrel of a gun as Blackwater, armed with a war 
chest and politically-connected attorneys, is aggressively litigating against 
them. Blackwater has also threatened to hold the administrator of the estates 
personally liable to scare him into abandoning his position, and has threatened 
the families' attorneys as well.
  The families are simply without the financial wherewithal to defend against 
Blackwater. By filing suit, Blackwater is trying to wipe out the families' 
ability to discover the truth about Blackwater's involvement in the deaths of 
these four Americans and to silence them from any public comment. In February, 
the families testified before Congress.
  However, Blackwater's lawsuit now seeks to gag the family members from even 
speaking about the incident or about Blackwater's involvement in the deaths. 
This is a direct attack to their free speech rights under the First Amendment.
  "I initially took this case because it was the right thing to do in helping 
the families find closure by discovering the events surrounding their loved 
ones deaths, " said Daniel J. Callahan, attorney for the families. "I have 
found the evidence concerning Blackwater's involvement in the deaths to be 
overwhelming and appalling. Even more disturbing though is the callous nature 
in which Blackwater has not only concealed the truth, but also outright sued to 
force the families to stop pursuing the case and to silence them." Blackwater 
has spent millions of dollars and hired at least five different law firms to 
fight the families, rather than meeting and addressing what should be 
Blackwater's top priority -- the safety and well being of the mothers, wives, 
and children left behind. Blackwater has said that it will not pay one red cent 
to assist or console the surviving families, but instead has counter sued for 
$10 million.
  Without help, Blackwater will succeed in avoiding scrutiny for its conduct, 
escaping accountability for its actions, and silencing the families of the four 
Americans killed in Fallujah. A defense fund has been established by which the 
public is able to donate money to assist the families with litigation costs and 

Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, 
photos & more. 
Biofuel mailing list

Biofuel at Journey to Forever:

Search the combined Biofuel and Biofuels-biz list archives (50,000 messages):

Reply via email to