View Full Version : Iraqi Police Have Video Evidence That Blackwater Guards Fired Unprovoked

09-22-2007, 10:36 PM

Iraq: Blackwater Guards Fired Unprovoked

Sep 22, 7:55 PM (ET)


BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in a shooting last week that left 11 people dead, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case was referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

Iraq's president, meanwhile, demanded that the Americans release an Iranian arrested this week on suspicion of smuggling weapons to Shiite militias. The demand adds new strains to U.S.-Iraqi relations only days before a meeting between President Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi authorities had completed an investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad and concluded that Blackwater guards were responsible for the deaths.

He told The Associated Press that the conclusion was based on witness statements as well as videotape shot by cameras at the nearby headquarters of the national police command. He said eight people were killed at the scene and three of the 15 wounded died in hospitals.

Blackwater, which provides most of the security for U.S. diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq, has insisted that its guards came under fire from armed insurgents and shot back only to defend themselves.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Saturday that she knew nothing about the videotape and was contractually prohibited from discussing details of the shooting.

Khalaf also said the ministry was looking into six other fatal shootings involving the Moyock, N.C.-based company in which 10 Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded. Among the shootings was one Feb. 7 outside Iraqi state television in Baghdad that killed three building guards.

"These six cases will support the case against Blackwater, because they show that it has a criminal record," Khalaf said.

Khalaf said the report was "sent to the judiciary" although he would not specify whether that amounted to filing of criminal charges. Under Iraqi law, an investigating judge reviews criminal complaints and decides whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh denied that authorities had decided to file charges against the Blackwater guards and said Saturday that no decision had been taken whether to seek punishment.

"The necessary measures will be taken that will preserve the honor of the Iraqi people," he said in New York, where al-Maliki arrived Friday for the U.N. General Assembly session. "We have ongoing high-level meetings with the U.S. side about this issue."

Al-Maliki is expected to raise the issue with Bush during a meeting Monday in New York.

It is doubtful that foreign security contractors could be prosecuted under Iraqi law. A directive issued by U.S. occupation authorities in 2004 granted contractors, U.S. troops and many other foreign officials immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law.

Security contractors are also not subject to U.S. military law under which U.S. troopers face prosecution for killing or abusing Iraqis.

Iraqi officials have said in the wake of the Nisoor Square shooting that they will press for amendments to the 2004 directive.

A senior aide to al-Maliki said Friday that three of the Blackwater guards were Iraqis and could be subject to prosecution. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Shortly after the Sept. 16 shooting, U.S. officials said they "understood" that there was videotape, but refused to give more details. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release information to the media.

Following the Nisoor Square shooting, the Interior Ministry banned Blackwater from operating in Iraq but rolled back after the U.S. agreed to a joint investigation. The company resumed guarding a reduced number of U.S. convoys on Friday.

The al-Maliki aide said Friday that the Iraqis were pushing for an apology, compensation for victims or their families and for the guards involved in the shooting to be held "accountable."

Hadi al-Amri, a prominent Shiite lawmaker and al-Maliki ally, also said an admission of wrongdoing, an apology and compensation offered a way out of the dilemma.

"They are always frightened and that's why they shoot at civilians," al-Amri said. "If Blackwater gets to stay in Iraq, it will have to give guarantees about its conduct."

Allegations against Blackwater have clouded relations between Iraq and the Americans at a time when the Bush administration is seeking to contain calls in Congress for sharp reductions in the 160,000-strong U.S. military force.

Adding to those strains, President Jalal Talabani demanded the immediate release of an Iranian official detained Thursday by U.S. forces in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

The U.S. military said the unidentified Iranian was a member of the Quds force - an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards accused of arming and training Shiite militias in Iraq.

A statement issued Saturday by Talabani's office said the arrest was carried out without the prior knowledge or the cooperation of the Kurdish regional government.

"This amounts to an insult and a violation of its rights and authority," said the statement, quoting a letter Talabani sent to Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Talabani, a Kurd, is one of Washington's most reliable partners in Iraq.

Talabani said Iran had threatened to close the border with the Kurdish region if the official were not freed - a serious blow to the economy in the president's political stronghold.

"I want to express to you our dismay over the arrest by American forces of this official civilian Iranian guest," Talabani wrote to Petraeus and Crocker.

Five Iranians said to be linked to the Quds force were arrested in the Kurdish city of Irbil and remain in U.S. custody.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military announced the death of two more American soldiers - one of an unspecified non-combat related injury and another in a vehicle accident in Diyala province.

09-22-2007, 11:02 PM
I wonder how this will play out... Seems as if maybe the Iraqi government is getting a bit tired of the sub-contractor shell game.

Here are the results of a google search of Blackwater... Interesting stuff that I certainly didn't know.

09-22-2007, 11:06 PM
U.S. Repeatedly Rebuffed Iraq on Blackwater Complaints

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Steve Fainaru (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/sudarsan+raghavan+and+steve+fainaru/)
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, September 23, 2007; Page A18

BAGHDAD, Sept. 22 -- Senior Iraqi officials repeatedly complained to U.S. officials about Blackwater USA (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Blackwater+USA?tid=informline)'s alleged involvement in the deaths of numerous Iraqis, but the Americans took little action to regulate the private security firm until 11 Iraqis were shot dead last Sunday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Before that episode, U.S. officials were made aware in high-level meetings and formal memorandums of Blackwater's alleged transgressions. They included six violent incidents this year allegedly involving the North Carolina (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/North+Carolina?tid=informline) firm that left a total of 10 Iraqis dead, the officials said.
"There were no concrete results," Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister who oversees the private security industry on behalf of the Iraqi government, said in an interview Saturday.

The lack of a U.S. response underscores the powerlessness of Iraqi officials to control the tens of thousands of security contractors who operate under U.S.-drafted Iraqi regulations that shield them from Iraqi laws. It also raises questions about how seriously the United States will seek to regulate Blackwater, now the subject of at least three investigations by Iraqi and U.S. authorities. Blackwater, which operates under State Department (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/U.S.+Department+of+State?tid=informline) authority, protects nearly all senior U.S. politicians and civilian officials here.

U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to several requests to describe what action, if any, was taken in response to the six incidents involving Blackwater. Mirembe Nantongo, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, said the embassy always looks into anything "outside of normal operation procedures."

In the United States, Blackwater is facing a possible federal investigation over allegations that it illegally smuggled weapons into Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/countries/iraq.html?nav=el) that later might have been sold on the black market. The accusation first appeared in the Raleigh (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Raleigh?tid=informline) News & Observer. The company on Saturday denied the allegations, calling them "baseless."

"The company has no knowledge of any employee improperly exporting weapons," Anne Tyrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, said in a statement.

In its probe, Iraq's Interior Ministry concluded that Blackwater fired without provocation into cars about noon last Sunday in Nisoor Square in the Mansour neighborhood of western Baghdad, killing 11 and injuring 12. Blackwater has said that extremists ambushed guards protecting a State Department convoy and that they had to defend themselves.

Kamal indicated that Iraqi investigators had a videotape apparently showing Blackwater guards firing at civilians, but he declined to provide further details. On Friday, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Abdul+Karim+Khalaf?tid=informline), the chief Interior Ministry spokesman, said the ministry would refer its findings to a court for possible criminal prosecution.

"It confirms there was no justification. Blackwater started shooting," Kamal said about the probe's conclusions. "This is a crime, which under Iraqi law, and even under American law, should be punished."

U.S. investigators have not publicly released any findings. U.S. Embassy officials have declined to comment on the probe and cautioned not to draw premature conclusions.

Matthew Degn, who served as a senior adviser to the Interior Ministry's intelligence directorate until his tour in Iraq ended last month, said Kamal and other ministry officials became increasingly frustrated by their inability to persuade U.S. officials to regulate Blackwater as allegations against the company mounted.

Degn said Kamal sent a flurry of memos to company and U.S. officials in an effort to bring Blackwater into compliance. The Iraqis were concerned that the firm had refused to obtain a license to operate legally in Iraq, a process that required companies to provide sensitive personnel data and submit to weapons inspections. Blackwater also refused to answer any questions about the reported incidents.

Degn said the Iraqis were consistently rebuffed in their requests.

"Kamal went to State several times; he's the one who's been paying the price for this," Degn said. "We had numerous discussions over his frustrations with Blackwater, but every time he contacted the government, it went nowhere."

Degn said he became a close friend of Kamal's and shared the deputy minister's frustrations, even as he recognized the complexity of reconciling Blackwater's relationship with the Iraqis while trying to protect the State Department. Degn said Blackwater's reluctance to cooperate was understandable, given that the Iraqi Interior Ministry had been infiltrated by sectarian militia members.

Kamal said addressing Blackwater's alleged actions was also a matter of preserving Iraq's dignity and honor. Seated in his spacious office, he recalled an incident two months ago when Blackwater guards threw a water bottle at a traffic policeman. The officer was so furious that he submitted his resignation, but his superiors turned it down, Kamal said.

"This is a flagrant violation of the law," Kamal said. "This guy is an officer with a rank of a brigadier general. He was standing in the street doing his job, regulating traffic. He represents the state and the law, and yet this happened."

The topic of Blackwater's impunity was discussed during high-level meetings involving American and Iraqi officials, including Kamal, national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie and senior officials from the [u]U.S. military (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/U.S.+Armed+Forces?tid=informline) and the U.S. Embassy, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Tensions escalated over a series of incidents beginning last Dec. 24, when a Blackwater employee allegedly shot and killed a bodyguard for Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi inside Baghdad's Green Zone (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Baghdad+Green+Zone?tid=informline). It remains unclear how the Blackwater employee was able to leave Iraq after the incident, which triggered a Justice Department (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/U.S.+Department+of+Justice?tid=informline) investigation. No charges have been filed.

On May 24, a Blackwater team shot and killed an Iraqi driver outside the Interior Ministry gate. The incident triggered an armed standoff between Interior Ministry commandos and the Blackwater guards, who later told U.S. Embassy officials that the driver had veered too close to their convoy. Blackwater refused to give the guards' names or details of the incident to the Iraqis. The State Department said it planned to conduct an investigation, but no results have been announced.

It is unclear whether Blackwater could be criminally prosecuted in Iraq. A U.S. regulation called Order 17 enacted after the invasion by Iraq's U.S. administrators provides immunity from prosecution for private security contractors.

Kamal, a lawyer by training, suggested that Iraq's government could file lawsuits against Blackwater in U.S. courts to seek compensation for the victims.

"If Order 17 provides them with immunity from being questioned or the right to be tried under Iraqi law, it does not prevent the Iraqi government from filing suit in an American court," he said.

Fainaru reported from El Cerrito, Calif.

09-23-2007, 02:09 AM
Also, private contracters were reported (by credible sources many times) to have done some jacked up stuff to Iraqi prisoners.

09-23-2007, 06:44 AM
Also, private contracters were reported (by credible sources many times) to have done some jacked up stuff to Iraqi prisoners.Care to list any of them?

09-23-2007, 09:26 AM
Care to list any of them?
They made prisoners watch the Tyra Banks Show.

09-23-2007, 09:43 AM
Rice, Al-Maliki Keep Distance at Meeting


By MATTHEW LEE – 1 hour ago

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki kept a polite distance Saturday as they attended a group meeting and avoided discussion of a deadly Baghdad shootout involving guards from a U.S. company protecting American diplomats.

The two greeted each other before the meeting, but in a brief exchange of pleasantries, the issue of the shootout didn't come up, deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

With tensions soaring over the Sept. 16 incident, Rice and al-Maliki chose not to speak about it at a United Nations gathering at which they were among senior diplomats and officials from Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria, weighing future assistance to Iraq.

Earlier, the State Department's Iraq coordinator, David Satterfield, said the two did not have any one-on-one contact. Satterfield testily told reporters that the issue of the incident was not on the agenda. He told reporters after the meeting that Rice had already spoken by phone with al-Maliki about the matter.

The U.N. meeting came as a senior Iraqi official in Baghdad said Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows employees of Blackwater USA opening fire against civilians without provocation on Sept. 16.

At the same time, Iraq's Interior Ministry said it had expanded its investigation of the shooting to include six other incidents involving Blackwater guards over the past seven months .

The developments added to rising U.S.-Iraqi tensions, which shot up following last Sunday's shooting that killed at least 11 Iraqis, including civilians.

Despite that, al-Maliki said before the session that he believed security was improving in Iraq and urged the United Nations to boost its presence in his country.

"The security situation ... has begun to develop tremendously, and the Baghdad of today is different from the Baghdad of yesterday," he said after a solo meeting with Ban.

The presence of Rice and al-Maliki at the same meeting here was the closest high-level encounter between the governments since the incident and since Rice on Friday announced a full review of State Department security in Iraq.

They precede a meeting between al-Maliki and President Bush next week on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly.

The security review that Rice announced will examine the rules of engagement followed by security contractors as well as rules and regulations that govern their operations. That includes the jurisdiction in which contractors should be covered and the immunity from prosecution by Iraqi and U.S. military courts that they now enjoy.

A joint U.S.-Iraqi commission is also beginning to look at widely conflicting accounts of last weekend's incident; the first session was planned for Sunday.

American witnesses have said the security guards were responding to an attack. Many Iraqi witnesses have told investigators the shooting was unprovoked. The prime minister has called the incident a "crime" and his government has suggested that the U.S. no longer use Blackwater for security.

But the State Department relies heavily on private contractors to protect U.S. diplomats and other civilian U.S. government personnel in Iraq because it lacks the means to do so itself.

Blackwater has said its guards, protecting a U.S. diplomatic convoy, were returning fire from insurgents and acted appropriately.

Rice spoke to al-Maliki by telephone Monday to express regret for the deaths. At that time, she asked that he hold off from any action against Blackwater until all the facts were known.

Iraqi officials, who initially said they would ban the company, have shown no sign of easing their criticism. The killings have outraged many Iraqis, who long have resented the presence of armed Western security contractors, considering them an arrogant mercenary force that abuses Iraqis in their own country.

Iraq's Interior Ministry now is looking at other incidents involving Blackwater employees.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said the Moyock, N.C.-based company has been implicated in six other incidents over the past seven months, including a Feb. 7 shooting outside Iraqi state television in Baghdad in which three building guards were fatally shot.

Blackwater USA spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell had no comment when reached by telephone Saturday morning.

09-23-2007, 10:13 AM
They made prisoners watch the Tyra Banks Show.OH...MY..... GOD!!! those MONSTERS!!!

09-23-2007, 01:53 PM
Iraqi Police Have Video Evidence That Blackwater Guards Fired Unprovoked

Blackwater was filming a new video ... shooting innocent people and laughing about it

And this organization is run by a Right Wing Christian = OMG

09-23-2007, 05:04 PM
Care to list any of them?

Supposedly raped kids at Abu Grab. No joke.

Blackwater was filming a new video ... shooting innocent people and laughing about it

I remember that video on the net where they were driving shoot at random cars.

09-27-2007, 09:06 AM
Rice accused of interfering in Iraq corruption inquiry
Lawmaker says US treating corruption in Iraq as ‘state secret’



WASHINGTON: A leading Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of interfering in congressional inquiries into corruption in Iraq’s government and the activities of US security firm Blackwater.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said State Department officials had told the Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs they could not provide details of corruption in Iraq’s government unless the information was treated as a “state secret” and not revealed to the public.

“You are wrong to interfere with the committee’s inquiry,” Waxman said in a letter to Rice. “The State Department’s position on this matter is ludicrous,” added Waxman, a vocal opponent of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

But State Department spokesman Tom Casey said there seemed to have been a “misunderstanding” over the issue and all the information requested by Congress had either been provided or was in the process of being provided.

Waxman said security contractor Blackwater, which was involved in an incident in which Iraqi civilians were killed last week, said they could not hand over documents relevant to an investigation without State Department approval.

But Casey said later Blackwater had been informed the State Department had no objection to it providing information to Waxman’s committee.

Blackwater provides security for the US Embassy in Baghdad and has a contract with the State Department.

Waxman, who has called a hearing on Blackwater for Oct. 2, released a letter his staff received from the security contractor’s attorneys dated Sept. 24.

“It the State Department directs Blackwater USA not to disclose any information concerning the contract without DOS (Department of State) preauthorisation in writing.”

Blackwater also urged the committee not to ask questions at the hearing that could reveal sensitive information “that could be utilised by our country’s implacable enemies in Iraq.”

Such information included the size of their security staff in Baghdad, weaponry and the operation of convoys. Waxman also released a letter signed by State Department contracting officer Kiazan Moneypenny to Blackwater.

09-27-2007, 06:09 PM
That kinda about figures...

10-02-2007, 04:22 AM
More good Blackwater news:


Published on Saturday, September 29, 2007 by Inter Press Service (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39458) Pentagon Gives Blackwater New Contract

by Ali Gharib

WASHINGTON - A U.S.-based private security firm received a contract worth up to 92 million dollars from the Department of Defence amid hard questions about its involvement in two separate violent incidents in Iraq. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/wp-content/photos/0929_03.jpg (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/wp-content/photos/0929_03.jpg)“Blackwater has been a contractor in the past with the department and could certainly be in the future,” said the U.S.’s top-ranking military officer, General Peter Pace, at an afternoon press conference here.

The future arrived just two hours later when the Pentagon released a new list of contracts — Presidential Airways, the aviation unit of parent company Blackwater, was awarded the contract to fly Department of Defence passengers and cargo between locations around central Asia.

The announcement comes as a cloud of suspicion is gathering around the “professional military” firm for its actions as a State Department security contractor in Iraq in which at least eight Iraqis and possibly as many as 28 were killed, including a woman and child.

Last week, the Iraqi government announced that it had revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in the country....


10-02-2007, 05:17 AM
Blackwater involved in 195 Iraq shootings

Tue Oct 2, 2007 4:45am EDT
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Security contractor Blackwater was involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq since 2005, said a congressional report on Monday that also panned the State Department's oversight of the company.

State Department contractor Blackwater, under investigation for the shooting deaths of 11 Iraqis on September 16, will answer questions about that incident and others at what is expected to be a testy congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Senior State Department officials will also be grilled by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examining whether the growing use of military contractors undermines U.S. efforts in Iraq.

In another development, the FBI said it had been asked by the State Department to send a team of investigators to Iraq to look into the September 16 shootings. No criminal charges have been filed yet against Blackwater over that incident.

A report prepared by the staff of committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman, released details from Blackwater's own reports of multiple incidents involving Iraqi casualties and said in most instances Blackwater fired first.

The memorandum also slammed the State Department's oversight of Blackwater and said it was often more interested in getting the company to pay off victims' families and "put the matter behind us" than in investigating what happened.

It listed 195 shooting incidents from the start of 2005 until September 12 of this year, an average of 1.4 per week. Of those, there were 16 Iraqi casualties and 162 cases with property damage, the California Democrat said. He did not specify if there were fatalities.

"In 32 of those incidents, Blackwater were returning fire after an attack while on 163 occasions (84 percent of the shooting incidents), Blackwater personnel were the first to fire," Waxman, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, said.

State Department rules say Blackwater's actions should be defensive rather than offensive.

Blackwater, which has been paid a little over $1 billion by the U.S. government since 2001, declined comment.

"We look forward to setting the record straight on this and other issues" when Erik Prince, Blackwater's chief, testifies before the committee, spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said.


The report said Blackwater had fired 122 of its staff in Iraq over the past three years for a number of infractions, including 28 weapons-related incidents and 25 cases involving drugs and alcohol violations.

Waxman criticized the State Department's handling of several incidents involving Blackwater.

"It appears that the State Department's primary response was to ask Blackwater to make monetary payments to put the 'matter behind us' rather than to insist upon accountability or to investigate Blackwater personnel for potential criminal liability," said the memorandum.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey declined to comment on specifics listed by Waxman but said the department was "scrupulous" in its oversight of all contractors.

"These are tough jobs and these people often perform heroically in very difficult circumstances," Casey said. "But at the same time they have to be held accountable for their actions."

In a shooting incident on December 24, 2006, a security guard for Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi was killed by an allegedly drunken Blackwater contractor, who was then flown out of the country and faced no charges, the memorandum said.

E-mail traffic from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad back to Washington described Iraq concerns over the incident.

"Iraqis would not understand how a foreigner could kill an Iraqi and return a free man to his own country," it said.

The State Department's charge d'affaires recommended Blackwater pay $250,000 and give an "apology." Waxman noted the State Department's diplomatic security said that was too much and would cause Iraqis to "try to get killed." Eventually Blackwater agreed on a $15,000 payment.

In another incident where Blackwater shooters killed an "innocent Iraqi," Waxman said the State Department requested only a $5,000 payment to "put this unfortunate matter behind us quickly."

(Additional reporting by Randall Mikkelsen)

10-02-2007, 07:22 AM
Wow, a billion since 2001? Seems like I should start a business. Oh wait, I don't know any neocons I can kick back to to make sure I get the contracts.

10-04-2007, 04:47 AM

Pilot said 'this is fun' before fatal Blackwater crash

Story Highlights
Pilots took dangerous run through canyon, according to testimony
Account heard in hearing on Blackwater's performance in Iraq, Afghanistan
Waxman:"It's more than pilot error. There ought to be corporate responsibility"
Plane crashed in November 2004, killing all six on board

10-04-2007, 05:22 AM

Blackwater contractor wrote government report on incident

Story Highlights
Blackwater under scrutiny, accused of killing Iraqi civilians in clash
"Spot" report for State Department was penned by Blackwater contractor
Iraqis say spot report is at odds with what civilians are saying
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The State Department's initial report of last month's incident in which Blackwater guards were accused of killing Iraqi civilians was written by a Blackwater contractor working in the embassy security detail, according to government and industry sources.

A source involved in diplomatic security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said a Blackwater contractor, Darren Hanner, drafted the two-page "spot report" on the letterhead of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for the embassy's Tactical Operations Center.

That office -- which tracks and monitors all incidents and movements involving diplomatic security missions -- has outsourced positions to Blackwater and another private firm, the embassy source said.

A highly placed industry source said that Hanner, who was listed on the report as the TOC watch officer, was working for Blackwater at the time the report was written, just after the September 16 incident occurred. He was to rotate out of Iraq this past week, the source said.

The man who approved the report was Ricardo Colon, whom the embassy source identified as the embassy's deputy regional security officer. A State Department source confirmed a Ricardo Colon Cifredo works for the State Department in Iraq.

The deadly incident produced an outcry in Iraq and raised questions about the accountability of foreign security contractors in Iraq, who, under an order laid down by the U.S.-led occupation government, are not subject to Iraqi law for actions taken within their contracts.

Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Blackwater, emphasized that the State Department is doing its own investigation into the incident.

The FBI is sending a team of agents to assist the U.S. investigation at the State Department's request, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Monday.

Blackwater -- which provides security to U.S. diplomats -- says its employees responded properly to an insurgent attack on a convoy. The State Department "spot report" underscores that scenario and doesn't mention civilian casualties.

However, those accounts are at odds with what the Iraqis are saying.

A senior Iraqi National Police official participating in the Iraqi governmental probe of the shooting said the Blackwater gunfire was unprovoked and the guards fired randomly, killing several civilians and wounding others. http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/.element/img/2.0/mosaic/tabs/video.gifWatch Iraqi police video of the incident aftermath » (http://cnn.site.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Blackwater+contractor+wrote+government+repor t+on+incident+-+CNN.com&expire=-1&urlID=24218250&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2007%2FWORLD%2Fmeas t%2F10%2F02%2Fblackwater.spot.report%2Findex.html&partnerID=211911#cnnSTCVideo)

Tom Casey, deputy State Department spokesman, noted that a spot report "is a first-blush account of those on the scene" and that the "report has no standing whatsoever."

"It was not intended to be used as an analysis, investigation, review or any detailed assessment of the situation," Casey said. "To assert that (it is) is untrue," Casey said.

The embassy source said after the spot report was completed and approved, a State Department agent took sworn statements from the participants in the shooting.

The senior Iraqi police officer said that Blackwater team members were questioned by Iraqi police immediately after the incident and initially said they opened fire in response to a mortar attack. However, he said, they then changed their story at least twice during the 90 minutes they were held.

Erik Prince, the CEO of Blackwater, was to testify Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Find this article at:

10-09-2007, 01:52 AM

Iraqi authorities seek Blackwater ouster

By STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers1 hour, 25 minutes ago

Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months. They also want the firm to pay $8 million in compensation to families of each of the 17 people killed when its guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.

The demands — part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press — also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square — which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.

Al-Maliki ordered the investigation by his defense minister and other top security and police officials on Sept. 22. The findings — which were translated from Arabic by AP — mark the most definitive Iraqi positions and contentions about the shootings last month.

The report also highlights the differences in death tolls and accounts that have complicated efforts to piece together the chain of events as one Blackwater-protected convoy raced back toward Baghdad's Green Zone after a nearby bombing, while a second backup team in four gun trucks sped into the square as a backup team.

The Iraqi investigation — first outlined Thursday by The Associated Press — charges the four Blackwater vehicles called to the square began shooting without provocation. Blackwater contends its employees came under fire first.

The government, at the conclusion of its investigation, said 17 Iraqis died. Initial reports put the toll at 11.

It said the compensation — totaling $136 million — was so high "because Blackwater uses employees who disrespect the rights of Iraqi citizens even though they are guests in this country."

The U.S. military pays compensation money to the families of civilians killed in battles or to cover property damage, but at far lower amounts.

The United States has not made conclusive findings about the shooting, though there are multiple investigations under way and Congress has opened inquiries into the role of private security contractors. Last week, the FBI took over a State Department investigation, raising the prospect that it could be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

The Iraqi government report said its courts were to proper venue in which to bring charges.

It said Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq expired on June 2, 2006, meaning it had no immunity from prosecution under Iraqi laws set down after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The government report also challenged the claim that a decree in June 2004 by then-Iraqi administrator L. Paul Bremer granted Blackwater immunity from legal action in incidents such as the one in Nisoor Square. The report said the Blackwater guards could be charged under a criminal code from 1969.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said the diplomatic mission would have no comment on the report. Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said the document was in American hands.

The report found that Blackwater guards also had killed 21 Iraqi civilians and wounded 27 in previous shootings since it took over security for U.S. diplomats in Baghdad after the U.S. invasion. The Iraqi government did not say whether it would try to prosecute in those cases.

The State Department has counted 56 shooting incidents involving Blackwater guards in Iraq this year. All were being reviewed as part of the comprehensive inquiry ordered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

10-09-2007, 07:46 AM
Sounds like Iraq is a little pissed. Good! But who do they think they are? A real country with it's own government? Sheesh....