The year 2007 was a busy one for Blackwater, the former name of the private security force now known as Academi. The group was privately contracted by the United States government to assist with combat operations in Iraq, in other words, they’re paid mercenaries and are crazy as hell.

According to a recent New York Times report, around the time that Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, the State Department launched an operations investigation the security organization. The investigation was dropped, though, after Blackwater’s leading manager threatened to kill a State Department chief investigator.

Daniel Carroll, the Blackwater manager, reportedly told government investigator Jean Richter that he “could kill [Richter] at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq.” The threat was taken very seriously and frightened Richter into dropping the investigation.

“Carroll’s statement was made in a low, even tone of voice, his head was slightly lowered; his eyes were fixed on mine,” said Richter. “I took Mr. Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.”

The American Embassy in Baghdad took sides with Blackwater, and officials said that the State Department’s investigation was disruptive and created a hostile environment for Blackwater. In August of that year, Richter wrote a memo criticizing the gross lack of oversight of Blackwater, to which the federal government paid $1 billion.

The Blackwater contract turned out to be a complete farce and waste of taxpayer money. During Blackwater’s time in Iraq, the contractor committed billing fraud in which it overbilled the government for personnel use. Four Blackwater members also got drunk and crashed a $180,000 vehicle, and forced underpaid foreign workers to live in squalor with bedless rooms.

The men of Blackwater were violent, belligerent, and a waste of money. Not to mention they obstructed federal operations and investigations. The threats given to Richter and their killing of 17 innocent Iraqi civilians is a testament to the atrocities associated with a rushed military invasion and mishandling of valuable military resources.

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.