CBS news is rerunning the story of the Blackwater pilots who flew into a mountain, and the widows’ lawsuit against the firm.
But as we reported last February, it was an accident that never should have happened and you would not be hearing about it now if it weren’t for his widow, herself a former high-ranking Army officer, who waged a five-year battle against one of the military’s most important contractors.
Col. McMahon was no ordinary widow and in her mind her husband was the victim of Blackwater. Until her retirement a few months ago, the West Point graduate and former helicopter pilot seemed to be a future candidate for general, but her life changed when her husband and West Point classmate was killed on a routine flight back to his cavalry squadron in western Afghanistan.
And while still on active duty, she decided to sue Blackwater’s aviation subsidiary for flagrant safety violations and reckless disregard for human life.
You may remember this quote:
“I swear to God they wouldn’t pay me if they knew how much fun this was,” Captain English said on the recording.
English and his co-captain, Butch Hammer, had only been in Afghanistan for 13 days, and neither one of them had ever flown the route between Bagram and Farah. And their inexperience showed: they didn’t file a flight plan, and instead of taking the easier route to the southwest with lower mountains, they set off to the north and never seemed to get their bearings.
“I hope I’m going in the right valley,” English said on the voice recording.
Flight mechanic Mel Rowe voiced his concern early on. “I don’t know what we’re going to see, we don’t normally go this route,” Rowe said.
To make matters worse, the Blackwater operations center in Bagram didn’t have the equipment necessary to track the flight. So once it left the air base, the company had no idea where its plane was. But the crew seemed unperturbed.
“You’re an X-wing fighter. Star Wars man,” co-Captain Butch Hammer said to Noel English.
“Damn right. This is fun,” English replied.
Jeanette McMahon says that she and the other widows probably would never have filed the lawsuit if Blackwater or its aviation wing had shown some remorse.
McMahon told Kroft no one from Blackwater ever called her to express their condolences. “Never. They took absolutely no responsibility. I mean, if they had come out with open arms and said, ‘We are responsible. We are so sorry.’ That point never really came across,” she said.
Can’t expect God’s Own Contractors to apologize for anything.
And here comes the part I have always found ironic, and so appropriate for this blog:
Neither Blackwater nor Presidential Airways would give us an interview. But court records show they tried to get the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that they were part of the military and immunized from civil lawsuits.
They also claimed there was no actual proof of what caused the crash, and even asked that the case be tried under Islamic law because the crash occurred in Afghanistan.
Under Islamic law companies are not liable for the actions of their employees.
Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, of course, is an evangelical Christian. The following allegation has been made against him by a former employee:
The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”
To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”
And this site, Truth or Treason, has some facts and some speculation about Prince’s exact religious beliefs.