National

Panel: Army ignored Blackwater's illegal acts

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 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.

  Comments