The ex‐employees, a husband and wife team, Brad and Melan Davis, worked in various Blackwater locations, both overseas and in the United States.
They are suing Blackwater under the False Claims Act, a U.S. federal law which allows people who are not affiliated with the government to file actions against federal contractors claiming fraud against the government. Persons filing under the Act stand to receive a portion (usually about 15–25 percent) of any recovered damages. Claims under the law have been filed by persons with insider knowledge of false claims which have typically involved health care, military, or other government spending programs. The government has recovered nearly $22 billion dollars under the False Claims Act between 1987 and 2008.
The Davis’s suit (posted by Ms. Sparky here) makes many charges but, predictably, the press thus far has largely focused on the most sensationalistic, namely that Blackwater officials kept a Filipino prostitute on the company payroll for a State Department contract in Afghanistan, and billed the government for her time working for Blackwater male employees in Kabul. The alleged prostitute’s salary was categorized as part of the company’s “Morale Welfare Recreation” expenses.
This rather superficial focus is similar to what the media did when the Project on Government Oversight released its report last September on drunken party antics by ArmorGroup private security contractors in Kabul, Afghanistan. Lost in all the coverage of contractors eating chips out of someone’s ass was the fact that ArmorGroup’s performance had “negatively impacted the security posture of the Local Guard Program for the U.S. Mission to Kabul.”
Let’s acknowledge that for the time being the Davis’s charges are just that and have yet to be proven. But if they end up being substantiated and Blackwater eventually suffers significant punishment it will be the equivalent of convicting Al Capone on tax evasion charges, given that in December a U.S. federal judge dismissed charges against Blackwater contractors accused of killing innocent Iraqi civilians in the September 2007 Nisoor Square incident, on the grounds that the government bungled the case by using testimony that was given under a grant of immunity.
It may be sad to say but, given the history of sexual activities and some private contractors, the alleged use of a prostitute by Blackwater may actually be a step up. At least they were not trafficking in child sex slaves as some DynCorp contractors did in Bosnia back in the late 1990s.
Nor did they drug and gang rape a fellow contractor as some KBR contractors reportedly did in 2005.
In fact, Blackwater contractors may have been inspired by the actions of the now legendary Tori the Escort. Back in 2007 Wonkette broke the story that Tori was going to be in Baghdad’s Green Zone for an extended tour, “entertaining all members of the PMC community registered with PSCAI (Private Security Company Association of Iraq).”
If only Blackwater had not billed the government for her services it is likely that nobody would care. There has been no detail yet on what she was paid or what Blackwater billed the government for, when requesting reimbursement for her services, so one cannot say if she was truly more cost effective and efficient than a public sector counterpart — a constant claim that the private sector always makes — such as a congressman or senator. Hopefully future depositions will provide further detail.
But even when you add in the overhead (whatever that might be, clean sheets provided by KBR perhaps?) that contractors always add when submitting bills to the government it seems unlikely that the net revenues would be worth the scandal.
Blackwater would have been better off just employing the prostitute as an independent contractor and paying for her services out of pocket.
As the use of a prostitute is between consenting parties it cannot be termed “sexual harassment” which is actually prohibited under the terms of the Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) contract under which Blackwater operates in Afghanistan. However there is a clause, with respect to guard conduct that states: