Skip to comments.Blackwater license being pulled in Iraq
Posted on 09/17/2007 4:34:26 AM PDT by decimon
BAGHDAD - The Interior Ministry said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad.
The ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday incident.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight people were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.
"We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities," Khalaf said.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, provides security for many U.S. civilian operations in the country. Phone messages left early Monday at Blackwater's office in North Carolina and with a company spokeswoman were not immediately returned.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the incident was still under investigation. It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater was intended to be temporary or permanent.
U.S. troops are immune from prosecution in Iraq under the U.N. resolution that authorizes their presence, but Khalaf said the exemption does not apply to private security companies.
The U.S. Embassy said a State Department motorcade came under small-arms fire that disabled one of the vehicles, which had to be towed from the scene near Nisoor Square in the Mansour district.
An embassy official provided no information about Iraqi casualties but said no State Department personnel were wounded or killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
He said the shooting was being investigated by the State Department's diplomatic security service, and law enforcement officials working with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki late Sunday condemned the shooting by a "foreign security company" and called it a "crime."
Tens of thousands of private security contractors operate in Iraq some with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles.
The contractors, including many Americans and Britons, provide protection for Westerners and dignitaries in Iraq as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war.
Many have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution.
Iraqi police said the contractors were in a convoy of six sport utility vehicles and left the scene after the shooting. A witness said the gunfire broke out following an explosion.
"We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes. Everybody in the street started to flee immediately," said Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area.
The wartime numbers of private guards are unprecedented as are their duties, many of which have traditionally been done by soldiers. They protect U.S. military operations and have guarded high-ranking officials including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Baghdad.
They also protect journalists, visiting foreign officials and thousands of construction projects.
IED followed by attempted ambush of the convoy.
What's the problem? Sombodys "cousin" was in the ambush with the bad guys and got aired out?
Of course this begs the question why Blackwater et al are needed to protect U.S. State Dept. convoys, as this incident clearly demonstrates.
Fine, replace them with official U.S. military ops teams, train them to do force protection and force protection only, pay them the private contractor rate, and see the results change. Maybe, maybe not.
Keep in mind this is an AP story.
<< a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people >>
Methinks they were just doing their job. The message is, if terrorists dress like civilians you can’t shoot at them even if they blow up your vehicle. What cowardice.
Pay them more money.
There are so many holes in this story that it’s worthless.
And if civilians dress as military as with Blackwater?
That could rightly be said of every story.
By kicking out Blackwater, they might be cutting their own throats, literally.
Certainly every AP story.
If so then there are other contractors to replace Blackwater.
Of which news services do you approve? Should FR be all vanities?
That's been my question all along. I'm not comfortable with a private firm doing what the military ought to be doing.
Because the military is already stretched very thin.
You can’t spell crAP without AP.
Just to bring the point local, if you get assaulted, should you not be able to fight back and shoot your assailant, unless you are wearing a police uniform?
Their status always seems iffy to me. I recall discussions of private contractors in "the geographical entity formerly known as Yugoslavia" with many considering then to be nothing but Beltway Bandits.
What then is your non-crappy news source?
Thousands of Iraqi citizens are being murdered every year by terrorists, many of them from Iran and Syria, and the Iraqi Government is getting its panties in a wad over the actions of a few Blackwater contractors?
Blackwater contractors dress like Security Contractors, not like the military. They do not wear US military uniforms or anything remotly like them.
I wouldn't suggest that at all. Blackwater can provide security services to the Iraqis, the State dept or even our military forces. I just don't think we need to set a precedent of using mercenaries to do our fighting. So, I'd say they shouldn't be used as snipers or in any offensive operations. Defensive is OK.
Do you have a problem with a private firm cleaning portajohns and showers so that the troops have clean facilities?
Heck the troops could do this themselves, right?
There’s also a lot of security needed for non military projects over there.
Nothing wrong with civilians doing this kind of work.
Thanks, was gonna adress that but you beat me to it.
Sniping isn’t security work.
Sometimes defensive operations become a bit agressive, but that’s the way it is.
“Phone messages left early Monday at Blackwater’s office in North Carolina and with a company spokeswoman were not immediately returned.”
Story filed at 6:40 am Monday?
I have no problem with Black Water, they provide a needed service over there that frees up out troops to go out and kick some ass in planned offensives.
If anyone has links to "planned ops" by Black Water, I would love to read them.
I sent this story to my brother, who works for the competition. Here’s his response....
Bro.... Triple Canopy classifies it’s guys working in Iraq as Employees and we have to pay the extra money that goes with that classification. We figure we have lost several VERY high dollar contracts (Millions of dollars of lost contracts) because of this Contractor vs.. Employee tap-dance. Blackwater, as an example, classifies its workers as Independent Contractors and we classify the same job requirement as Independent Employees. This costs TC around 8 million a year in taxes to hire the same guys BW hires. You can’t be very project cost completive when the competition has an 8 million a year advantage over you.
That said, we have brought this tactic to the attention of the IRS and the US State Department and they both just look the other way. What many of these Contract Officers that award these big contracts are saying is, “Ya can’t compete unless you cheat,” and TC won’t succumb to the bottom feeder attitude!
Pass this along to your IRS friends!!
Senators Seek to Curtail Tax Avoidance
By Misclassifying Workers as Contractors
Four Democratic senators Sept. 13 unveiled legislation (S. 2044) aimed at closing a “loophole” in federal law allowing businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, because of concerns that firms are using it to avoid payment of payroll taxes.
Critics of a safe harbor provision in Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 say that it prohibits the Internal Revenue Service from collecting employment taxes from employers who “reasonably” misclassify their workers.
Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) see that provision as a tool allowing some firms to “cheat” workers and taxpayers out of money, benefits, and worker protections.
“Most employers treat their workers fairly, paying them a decent wage and providing the benefits they deserve. But we must fix the system to stop those few employers from breaking the rules and exploiting this tax loophole at the expense of taxpayers and our workers’ safety and security,” Obama said in a joint statement with the other senators.
Meanwhile, the senators said firms following the rules as intended by Congress are at a competitive disadvantage because of their higher employment costs.
In unveiling the “Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007,” the senators said the federal government needs more tools to collect the taxes employers owe and provide more enforcement for firms wrongly classifying their workers as independent contractors.
The bill also will strengthen employment laws to identify employers in major industries who wrongly classify their workers as independent contractors and will require greater cooperation between the IRS and the Department of Labor in enforcing the law.
‘Cheating of the Worst Kind.’
“Improperly labeling workers as independent contractors is cheating of the worst kind,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Companies resorting to this dishonest practice avoid paying the taxes they owe and deny their employees their legal rights, including the right to a safe workplace, the right to the minimum wage, and the right to overtime pay. I’m proud to be a sponsor of this legislation to crack down on these unscrupulous employers.”
House lawmakers have also been looking at a change in the provision and the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures and Income Security and Family Support subcommittees held a hearing on the topic in May (89 DTR G-1, 5/9/07 ).
Select Revenue Subcommittee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said the Government Accountability Office has estimated that misclassification of workers can reduce federal revenues by up to $4.7 billion annually.
“It seems clear we must do something to reverse the trend,” Neal said. GAO, however, said no definitive test exists yet to distinguish whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
Document Date: September 13, 2007
To provide procedures for the proper classification of employees and independent contractors, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. OBAMA (for himself, Mr. DURBIN, and Mr. KENNEDY) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on
To provide procedures for the proper classification of employees and independent contractors, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007”.
SEC. 2. REFORMATION OF SAFE HARBOR TO CLOSE ITS USE AS A TAX LOOPHOLE.
(a) ALLOWANCE OF PROSPECTIVE RECLASSIFICATIONS.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 530(a) of the Revenue Act of 1978, as amended by section 269(c)(1) of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(5) ALLOWANCE OF RECLASSIFICATIONS.—Paragraph (1) shall not apply with respect to the treatment by a taxpayer of any individual for employment tax purposes for any period beginning after a determination by the Secretary of the Treasury that the individual should be treated as an employee of the taxpayer.”.
(2) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this subsection shall apply to determinations made after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(b) ELIMINATION OF BAN ON IRS ISSUING REGULATIONS OR REVENUE RULINGS ON EMPLOYEE/INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR STATUS.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978, as amended by section 269(c)(2) of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, section 1706(a) of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, section 1122(a) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, and section 864(a) of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, is amended by striking subsection (b) and by redesignating subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) as subsections (b), (c), (d), and (e), respectively.
(2) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this subsection shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.
(c) ELIMINATION OF ABILITY OF EMPLOYERS TO RELY ON INDUSTRY PRACTICE AS A BASIS FOR CLAIMING SAFE HARBOR.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 530(a)(2) of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended—
(A) by striking the semicolon at the end of subparagraph (A) and inserting “; or”,
(B) by striking the semicolon at the end of subparagraph (B) and inserting a period, and
(C) by striking subparagraph (C).
(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.—
(A) Section 530(d)(2) of the Revenue Act of 1978, as redesignated by subsection (b)(1), is amended
(i) by striking the comma at the end of subparagraph (A) and inserting a period,
(ii) by striking subparagraphs (B) and (C), and
(iii) by striking “subsection (a)(2)” in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) and all that follows through “a taxpayer” and inserting “subsection (a)(2), a taxpayer”.
(B) Section 530(d)(4)(B) of such Act (as so redesignated) is amended by striking “subparagraph (A), (B), or (C)” and inserting “subparagraph (A) or (B)”.
(3) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this subsection shall apply to periods beginning after the date which is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
SEC. 3. REVIEW OF CLASSIFICATION STATUS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978, as amended by section 2(b)(1), is amended by adding at the end the following new subsections: “(f) PETITIONS FOR REVIEW OF STATUS.—
“(1) IN GENERAL.—Under procedures established by the Secretary of the Treasury not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, any individual who performs services for a taxpayer may petition (either personally or through a designated representative or attorney) for a determination of the individual’s status for employment tax purposes.
“(2) ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES.—The procedures established under paragraph (1) shall provide for—
“(A) a determination of status not later than 90 days after the filing of the petition with respect to employment in any industry (such as the construction industry) in which employment is transient, casual, or seasonal,
“(B) an administrative appeal of any determination that an individual is not an employee of the taxpayer,
“(C) the award of expenses, including expert witness fees and reasonable attorneys’ fees for the individual against the taxpayer in any case in which the individual achieves reclassification, and
“(D) the assessment of such expenses against the taxpayer by the Secretary of the Treasury on behalf of such individual. “(3) PROHIBITION AGAINST RETALIATION.—”(A) IN GENERAL.—No taxpayer may discharge an individual, refuse to contract with an individual, or otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of the services provided by the individual because the individual (or any designated representative or attorney on behalf of such individual) filed a petition under paragraph (1).
“(B) ENFORCEMENT ACTION.—An individual who alleges discharge or other discrimination by any taxpayer in violation of subparagraph (A) may seek relief under the procedures and remedies established under section 42121 of title 49, United States Code.
“(C) RIGHTS RETAINED BY INDIVIDUAL.—Nothing in this paragraph shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any individual under any Federal or State law, or under any collective bargaining agreement.
“(g) RESULTS OF MISCLASSIFICATION DETERMINATIONS.—In any case in which the Secretary of the Treasury determines that a taxpayer has misclassified an individual as not an employee for employment tax purposes, the Secretary of the Treasury shall—
“(1) if necessary, perform an employment tax audit of such taxpayer,
“(2) inform the Department of Labor about such misclassification,
“(3) notify the individual of any eligibility for the refund of self-employment taxes under chapter 2 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and
“(4) apply the provisions of section 3509 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and direct the taxpayer to take affirmative action to abate the violation.”.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.
SEC. 4. COORDINATION, ENFORCEMENT, AND COMPLIANCE.
(a) ANNUAL REPORTS.—The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor shall each issue annual reports on worker misclassification, including—
(1) information on the number and type of enforcement actions against, and audits of, employers who have misclassified workers,
(2) relief obtained as a result of such actions against, and audits of, employers who have misclassified workers,
(3) an overall estimate of the number of employers misclassifying workers, the number of workers affected, and the industries involved,
(4) the impact of such misclassification on the Federal tax system, and
(5) the aggregate number of worker misclassification cases with respect to which each Secretary has provided information to the other Secretary and the outcome of actions taken, if any, by each Secretary in each worker misclassification case with respect to which the Secretary has received such information.
As part of the annual report, the Secretary of the Treasury shall include information on the outcomes of the petitions filed under section 530(f) of the Revenue Act of 1978 and the Secretary of Labor shall include information on the outcomes of the complaints and actions described in subsection (b)(1)(A) and the investigations required in subsection (b)(1)(B).
(b) ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.—
(1) DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.—
(A) WAGE AND HOUR ENFORCEMENT.—The Secretary of Labor shall identify and track complaints and enforcement actions involving misclassification of independent contractors for the purposes of the laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.
(B) INVESTIGATIONS OF INDUSTRIES WITH WORKER MISCLASSIFICATIONS.—The Secretary of Labor shall conduct investigations of industries in which worker misclassification is present as determined by information (other than return information (as defined in section 6103(b)(2)) received from the Secretary of the Treasury and any other relevant information, including reports from other Federal agencies and State workforce, labor, and revenue agencies.
(2) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There is authorized such sums as are necessary for the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor to carry out the purposes of the provisions of, and amendments made by, this Act.
(3) INFORMATION SHARING.—The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor shall exchange information on worker misclassification cases and shall provide such information with relevant State agencies. Upon receipt of such information, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of
Labor shall determine whether further investigation is warranted in each case.
SEC. 5. NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS AND MAINTENANCE OF INFORMATION REGARDING INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS.
(a) NOTICE OF RIGHT TO CHALLENGE CLASSIFICATION.—The Secretary of Labor shall provide for the placement of information on any poster required under the Fair Labor Standards Act informing workers of their right to seek a status determination from the Internal Revenue Service.
(b) EMPLOYER NOTICES TO INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS.—Each employer shall notify any individual who is hired by the employer as an independent contractor within the scope of the employer’s trade or business, at the time of hire, of the Federal tax obligations of an independent contractor, the labor and employment law protections that do not apply to independent contractors, and the right of such independent contractor to seek a status determination from the Internal Revenue Service. The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor shall develop model materials for providing such notice.
(c) MAINTENANCE OF INFORMATION REGARDING INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS.—Each employer shall maintain for 3 years a list of the independent contractors retained by the employer, including name, address, Social Security number and Federal tax identification number, and shall make the records available for inspection during investigations.
roger - roger.
I’m off to the store, but I’ll be back to read all the flames I get, due to the fact that Dems suggested the rule change...
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one. We’re stuck with analyzing the crap and reading between the lines, supplementing it with firsthand accounts that relate to the poorly-reported stories, that sort of thing.
Right, I guess the company spokesman they refer to was the night watchman.
Employees have sponsored transportation in and out of theater as well as company provided equipment, tools, supplies, etc.
IC’s don’t, have to supply their own and can be “on their own” at critical times.
The game isn’t for the squeamish, that’s for sure.
My wife's cousin works for Blackwater and has for about 10 years now. He was in Kosovo prior to Iraq. The State Department and the military use Blackwater for a variety of things. Personal body guards for high level officials, training of Iraqi security and police forces, etc. My wife's cousin was Paul Bremmer's personal body guard.
LOL....then I literally bumped into him in the Green Zone once!
I wasn't aware that AP or vanities were the only choices.
BTW I wasn't being critical of your posting an AP story. We need to know what's being reported, accurately or otherwise. AP usually includes facts but often obscures or tempers them with crAP and sometimes just plain false reports by phony sources. They've been caught too many times to pretend otherwise.
Of which news services do you approve?
I approve of news services who have never been caught outright lying. Mistakes are another thing. If immediately corrected (and in the same prominence as the original inaccurate report), honest mistakes aren't the same as lying.
Honest being key here: not bothering to verify a questionable source and going with the story as fact is NOT honest and I never again trust anyone or any paper, magazine or TV/radio report who does so and I think anyone who does is stoooopid. That doesn't mean we shouldn't post it here to pick out any facts and pick apart the rest.
Maybe ‘cause the military doesn’t want protect the whiny stripped pants pukes from the State Department?
ooops, sorry. I meant to include a ping to you in #37.
Thanks for the reasoned reply but I must persist. I’d like for someone to name a trustworthy news source.
Blackwater employees are not mercenaries. They take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution.
That being said, I would also like to see a larger military doing these sorts of jobs, but that is highly unlikely to happen as it would require greatly increasing the overall size of the military and the numbers on the ground in Iraq. Just imagine the screaming from the Dems and their minions in the press.
In fact, the squalling Dems are the main reason Blackwater has become a such large company with a huge presence in our conflicts overseas. Contractors can, to a larger extent than military forces, “fly under the radar,” since they are more or less ignored by the MSM. For example, one has to dig around a bit to find out how many Blackwater employees have lost their lives in Iraq, while one can get the latest military body count in seconds from any news outlet.
Back from the store yet? I’m tapping my...I mean I’m twiddling my thumbs in anticipation.
In general I have nothing against independent contractors in business. In this case, according to your friend, the practice is being used for competitive advantage. Seems a tad sleazy.
Furthermore, all we are seeing here is that knee-jerk reactions from politicians has already made its way into the Iraqi political process -
The Washington Post ^ | Sept 17, 2007 | Joshua Partlow
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 - A U.S. State Department motorcade came under attack in Baghdad on Sunday, prompting security contractors guarding the convoy to open fire in the streets. At least nine civilians were killed, according to Iraqi officials.
Civilians? I don't think so.
No wonder the Iraqis are bitchin, they must be trying to mis-direct the attention away from the assignation attempt.
When folks know what really happened I bet they will be thumping on the Iraqis honchos as to just who tried to whack some US State Department officials and why are they trying to blame Blackwater
National Review? Aren’t they a bunch of commies or something?
The original comment I made was in reference to the authors poor research of the subject matter. He should know his area of operations and the players better.
I wouldn't mess with the Blackwater boyz. From what I've been privy to, they can unleash all hell if provoked......
I’m willing to bet that Whitewater caused more deaths than Blackwater...
Realistically, they fulfill a critical function in operations that fills the gap between what the regular military can do and what must be done but cannot because of the PC limp-wrists who would rather have us put down our arms and try to coexist with those who have and are continuing to try to kill us.