Blackwater employees killed 17 innocent Iraqis in 2007 in Nisour Square. The incident highlighted America’s reliance on private contractors to maintain security in combat zones.
No such company was more powerful than Blackwater, which won more than $1 billion in government contracts. Its employees, most of them military veterans, protected American diplomats overseas and became enmeshed in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine counterterrorism operations. Its founder, Erik Prince, was a major donor to the Republican Party.
In Iraq, Blackwater was perceived as so powerful that its employees could kill anyone and get away with it.
“Blackwater had power like Saddam Hussein,” father of one nine year old Iraqi said in the court hearing the case against the Blackwater employees.
“What happened on Sept. 16, 2007, was nothing short of an atrocity,” a federal prosecutor, said.
The Nisour Square shooting transformed Blackwater from America’s most prominent security contractor into a symbol of unchecked and privatized military power. The incident also became a notorious low point in the war, along with the massacre by Marines of 24 civilians at Haditha and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.