The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing today on Paravant, a previously little-known subsidiary of Xe Services (aka Blackwater). It caps a six-month investigation by the committee, and it promises to be a doozy.
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chair of the committee, met with reporters yesterday to give a sneak preview. According to a statement released last night by Levin, the investigation revealed “failures in U.S. government oversight” that allowed employees of Blackwater — sorry, Paravant (Levin said he saw “no meaningful distinction between the two”) — to go buck wild in Afghanistan.
Paravant employees were supposed to be helping train Afghan security forces. But according to the committee investigation, Paravant employees were also indulging in extracurricular activities like joyriding with automatic weapons, and treating an Afghan National Police arsenal like their own personal weapons stash.
The company first garnered headlines after two former Paravant contractors were arrested on murder charges in the shootings of two Afghans in a May 2009 traffic accident in Kabul. They were charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. According to the Senate investigation, Paravant employees were involved in a second, previously undisclosed shooting that happened in December 2008.
Paravant program manager Johnnie Walker told committee staff the incident happened after an employee decided to get on the back of a moving car with a loaded AK-47 and “ride it like a stagecoach.” The employee accidentally discharged the rifle when the vehicle hit a bump. The round struck another Paravant team member, who was seriously injured.
Hat tip to Larvae!