Blackwater's Legal, PR Counterstrike

Security firm goes on offensive to influence press, block suits
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2007 2:08 PM CDT
Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred and mutilated bodies of U.S. contractors hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in this March 31, 2004 file photo.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – As Blackwater reels from the threat of criminal prosecution in Iraq, civil suits in the US, and bad press everywhere, the New York Times looks at the private security firm's counterstrike. Blackwater has hired a clutch of Washington lawyers and damage-control experts, including a former Clinton White House counsel, to spin the perception of the company, and has tried to gag grieving families.

Blackwater's message is that it has done only what the State Department asked, and that it hasn't lost a single official under its protection, while 30 contractors have been killed. The firm is even seeking a gag order against the families of its most famous casualties, the four Blackwater employees strung up in Fallujah. Their reasoning? The private soldiers signed contracts that forbade them from talking about Blackwater—and that prohibition should extend beyond the grave.