Here's a neat get-out-of-jail trick. The secret is it doesn't usually work for ordinary crimes by flesh-and-blood people -- for smoking marijuana or selling food stamps for rent money, for example. No, those people we warehouse in taxpayer-funded Corrections Corporation of America for-profit prisons. This trick works best for those who have turned themselves into the unnatural, corporate persons they serve. Creatures of appetite and instinct. Bloodless. Soulless. Like vampires, but without the teen angst.
The former Blackwater Security, a North Carolina company with a history of legal troubles, this week walked away from 17 federal charges by paying fines: $7 million for arms trafficking and other charges on top of $42 million for other violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.
The decision comes after a five-year, multi-agency federal investigation in which the company admitted "certain facts", according to Thomas Walker, a prosecutor in North Carolina.
Walker said the probe revealed "an array of criminal allegations" with some "involving the manufacture and shipment of short-barrelled rifles, fully automatic weapons, armoured helicopters, and armoured personnel carriers".
The organisation also faced charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for unlicenced training of foreign nationals and firearms violations during its assignments in Iraq and Sudan.
Blackwater, one of the largest private security firm's employed by the US in Iraq, came under intense international criticism after an incident on September 16, 2007, when five of its guards protecting a US diplomatic convoy, opened fire in Baghdad's busy Nisur Square, killing at least 14 Iraqi civilians.
From the San Francisco Examiner:
According to Justice Department documents, list of violations includes the possession automatic weapons in the United States without registration, deceptive statements made to government firearms officials about weapons tranferred (sic) to the Kingdom of Jordan, and passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval.
A separate violation entailed illegally shipping body armor to nations overseas.
It's a damned good thing Blackwater's repeat offenders were just accused of illegal weapons possession, gun running and violating international laws. Now, if like the Bush-Cheney administration Blackwater had admitted "certain facts" like kidnapping and torturing prisoners, or like Wall Street's mercenaries they had obliterated millions of old men's and women's pensions with fraudulent derivatives, crashed the world's economy, and had thrown millions of homes across the country into foreclosure and their former owners on to food stamps, the U.S. Justice Department woulda opened up a can of whup-ass.
(Cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans.)