Mothers Want Answers — Congress Investigates the Fallujah Tragedy

By Brian Ross And Rhonda Schwartz

Feb 7, 2007 12:04pm

The families of four U.S. contractors gruesomely killed during a convoy through Fallujah in 2004 will testify before Congress today about the company their loved ones worked for, Blackwater USA, a security company that has made millions but that the families say sent their men on a botched mission destined to end in death. "It turned out everything they told me was not even remotely true, not even close," Katie Helvenston, the mother of a former Navy SEAL and father of two killed in the attack, told ABC News about Blackwater’s response to the tragedy in a Primetime special report in April 2005. Watch the Primetime Special Report, "Mothers Want Answers." Today, Helvenston and relatives of the four men killed may finally get some answers to their questions when Blackwater officials testify before Congressman Henry Waxman’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. After being stonewalled by the company, the families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater, alleging the men were sent on a mission without proper maps, armored vehicles or sufficient manpower, and without proper time to prepare for the mission. In his last phone call home recorded on his mother’s answering machine, Helvenston complained about a lack of professionalism by Blackwater managers in Iraq. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. At the time of the incident, the company expressed regret over the deaths but said the men knew what they were getting into in Iraq. Blackwater has since refused to answer the families’ questions about what really happened that day, saying it "could undermine…the United States government’s ongoing efforts to combat international terrorism overseas." Blackwater even countersued the families’ attorney for $10 million in an effort to stop the lawsuit from going forward. Blackwater has argued in court filings that the lawsuit should not go forward "in order to safeguard both Blackwater’s own confidential information as well as sensitive information implicating the interest of the United States at war."  "Thus far in our legal quest, Blackwater has hired five different law firms to fight us, including such politically connected lawyers as Fred Fielding [now White House Counsel] and Kenneth Starr. It appears Blackwater will go to any lengths to prevent us from finding out why our men were killed and avoid any accountability for its actions," Katie Helvenston said. But today, Blackwater executives, as well as Army contracting officials, will finally be called to publicly answer questions about the ill-fated mission. "Although everyone remembers those images of the bodies being burnt, beaten, dragged through the streets and ultimately hung up from a bridge, we continue to relive that horror day after day, as those men were our fathers, sons and husbands," Helvenston plans to tell the committee. "Blackwater concealed the information from us that we needed so desperately to understand why our loved ones were dead," she said.

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