Blackwater Faces Questions About Trigger-Happy Employees

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The Blackwater private security firm, which guards most U.S. diplomats visiting Iraq is under a harsh light.

The company's founder is facing questions on Capitol Hill about accusations of trigger-happy employees killing innocent civilians.
Erik Price, the founder of Blackwater USA, was on the defensive, as lawmakers challenged his company's record in Iraq.

"Many people believe Blackwater has been unaccountable to anyone in government, but Blackwater will be held accountable today," assured Democratic Representative Henry Waxman.

"Blackwater has adopted a policy of shoot first--even kill, ask later," added Democratic Representative Elijah E. Cummings.

The firm earned more than a billion dollars in federal contracts in the last six years.

It has been under intense scrutiny, after a September 16 shooting incident involving Blackwater guards that left eleven Iraqi civilians dead.

The killings outraged the Iraqi government and sparked an FBI investigation. Blackwater has said their guards were acting in self-defense.

On Oct. 2, Prince insisted his company has acted responsibly.

A congressional report found that Blackwater has been involved in 195 shooting incidents in Iraq over the last two years--in over 80-percent of those incidents, company employees fired first.

The same report found that Blackwater had paid victims' families, covered up shootings and that the State Dept. failed to supervise the company' s actions.

One lawmaker pointed out that Blackwater provides security for members of Congress who go to Iraq and urged his colleagues to wait until the Justice Dept. completes its criminal investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting incident.

Panel chairman Henry Waxman said he's concerned to find the State Dept. advised Blackwater on how much to pay the family of an Iraqi security guard, who was shot by a drunken Blackwater employee.

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