Two former contract soldiers for the private military corporation Triple Canopy allege in a lawsuit filed in Virgina that they were fired then blackballed after reporting that their supervisor went on a hunting spree for civilians. The suit alleges that on July 8, 2005 they were on a protective service detail in a convoy on their way to pick up a Kellogg Brown Root employee when their shift leader stated that he was "going to kill someone today." The New York Times reports that the suit contends that he then:
stepped from his vehicle and fired several shots from his M4 assault rifle into the windshield of a stopped white truck.
Both men agree that the truck posed no threat to them. The NYT story continues:
Later in the day, according to the suit, the shift leader said, “I’ve never shot anyone with my pistol before,” and then opened the vehicle door and fired seven or eight shots into the windshield of a taxi.
The NYT also reports that the men claim that the shift leader was scheduled to leave Iraq the next day to return to the States and that he was "determined to kill before he left Baghdad." It is not known for sure, but it is believed that he did kill the taxi driver.
There have been previous reports of contract soldiers firing into civilian vehicles. One internal communique allegedly from the big military that has been circulating on the internet implicates Triple Canopy in such incidents.
If it's true that Triple Canopy fired the two operators for reporting the incident, it's very alarming, particularly in light that Triple Canopy has one of the best reputations of all the private military corporations. It's known for being well-run and having some of the most professional operators. In contrast to better-known Blackwater, it is also low-key, preferring as it puts it, "silent professionals."
Although not as large as Blackwater, it is sizable, boasting of over $100 of revenue in its first year of operation in 2003. According to The Washington Post, Triple Canopy in 2005 was the State Department's 9th biggest contractor, with State Department funds accounting for $90 of revenues. This does not capture the full dimension's of Triple Canopy's contracts. In June 2005 Triple Canopy, along with DynCorp and Blackwater USA were awarded a $1 billion dollar 5-year security contract by State to:
provide "armed, qualified protective services details" and, if ordered, "Counter Assault Teams and Long Range Defense Marksman teams," the proposal said.
Journalist for The Nation Jeremy Shahill has reported that two years into the contract*, Blackwater USA had already received over $320 million in funding, nearly $100 million more than was slated for the entire 5-year contract. One can speculate that Triple Canopy has shared a similar bonanza.
Triple Canopy has reportedly experienced some setbacks. It was rumored that it lost several black contracts in the summer of 2005, after which many of its top operators left TC for Blackwater.
*(There is some discrepancy here about when the contract was actually awarded and executed. Triple Canopy announced the award in June 2005, then immediately pulled the press release. Shahill claims that the award was in 2004.)