News & Politics

Revealed: Blackwater Still Working in Iraq for John McCain-linked 'Non-Profit'

A new lawsuit reveals that the notorious mercenary firm is working, under a different name, for the International Republican Institute in Iraq.

It seems as though every week there is a new lawsuit filed against Blackwater for the killing of civilians in Iraq. While the Justice Department has failed to prosecute most of these cases (the September 2007 Nisour Square massacre being an exception), attorney Susan Burke has dedicated a substantial part of her practice to holding the company responsible for its crimes. She works in cooperation with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Not only is Burke representing the victims of Nisour Square in their civil suit, and the family of an Iraqi guard allegedly murdered by a drunken Blackwater operative, but she has filed at least a half a dozen other cases against the company. “Erik Prince, a modern-day merchant of death, acts as if he is above the rule of law,” charges Burke.

But beyond the specifics of her lawsuits, Burke is also alleging Blackwater/Xe remains firmly entrenched in Iraq, using affiliate companies like Greystone. She also says Blackwater is working for a “non-profit” organization, started under the Reagan administration, with a history of interference in internal affairs and elections of various nations, including allegations it helped foment a coup in Haiti: the International Republican Institute.

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“The Iraqi government has barred Xe-Blackwater from operating in Iraq, and has refused to grant the licenses needed to carry weapons in Iraq,” Burke says.  “Yet Prince continues to provide armed personnel to the International Republican Institute. Such repeated illegal conduct by Prince must be stopped.”

According to SourceWatch:

Loosely affiliated with the Republican Party, the International Republican Insitute (IRI) works closely with the the National Endowment for Democracy and United States foreign policy instruments, including the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, to support economic and political development programs around the world. The organization is almost exclusively funded by the U.S. government and related agencies.

IRI is also closely linked to Sen. John McCain. According to IRI’s vice president, “Since the summer of 2003, IRI has conducted a multi-faceted program aimed at promoting democracy in Iraq. Toward this end, IRI works with political parties, civil society groups, and government officials and administrators. In support of these efforts, IRI also conducts numerous public opinion research projects and assists its Iraqi partners in the production of radio and television ads and programs.” One IRI grant recipient in Iraq told author Nikolas Kozloff, “Instead of promoting impartial, better understanding of certain ideas and concepts, they [the IRI] are actually trying to further the cause of the Republican administration.” Kozloff notes that in 2005-6 Blackwater donated $30,000 to IRI.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He writes at RebelReports.