Tuesday, May 27, 2008

City of San Diego Obstructs Navy Contract

Blackwater has asked a federal judge to help it meet the terms of US Navy contract by removing obstacles placed by the City of San Diego. The private security contractor's deal with the Navy requires them to open a training facility by June 2, but city officials have politicized the process and gone back on their word regarding permits. So now Blackwater is petitioning the federal judiciary to order the city to issue the due certification.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the North Carolina-based company noted that city clerks and inspectors already had signed off on permits for turning the warehouse into classrooms and an indoor firing range when Mayor Jerry Sanders, City Attorney Michael Aguirre and other city officials voiced concerns. Blackwater said its training center was being scrutinized more intensely than similar facilities that previously won the city's approval. The company also said that politics was playing a role in the dispute, noting that both Sanders and Aguirre face re-election votes on June 3.... “We have met all of the permitting requirements, and withholding the certificate of occupancy is in violation of law,” said Michael Neil, a San Diego attorney who represents Blackwater in the suit.

A spokesman for Mayor Sanders said his office would not comment on the litigation.

The facility in question will be used to teach sailors will marksmanship, weapons assembly and disassembly, basic arrest and apprehension techniques and how to safely handle the latest weapons. Blackwater, which has never attempted to hide the nature of the facility or the company's role in training US Navy personnel, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on renovating the facility.

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