View Full Version : U.S. Extends Blackwater's Baghdad Work For One Year

04-05-2008, 10:56 AM
U.S. extends Blackwater's Baghdad work for one year


Apr 04, 2008 17:29 EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. private security firm Blackwater's deal to protect American diplomats in Baghdad will be extended for a year while the FBI investigates a 2007 incident in which the company's guards are accused of killing 17 Iraqis, the State Department said on Friday.

"I have requested and received approval to have task order six -- which Blackwater has to provide personal protective services in Baghdad -- renewed ... for one year," the head of diplomatic security, Gregory Starr, told reporters.

The September 2005 shooting incident in Baghdad enraged the Iraqi government and triggered an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation into what happened and whether any crimes might have been committed.

A measure issued by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004 prevents foreign security contractors from being prosecuted in local courts. It is unclear whether they could be prosecuted under U.S. law.

After the incident, the State Department changed several elements of the contract, including tightening up rules of engagement, putting cameras on all convoys and having a diplomatic security officer ride along with the detail.

Starr said Blackwater was operating with the agreement of the Iraqi government and he did not know when the FBI's investigation of the incident would be completed.

Asked whether the Blackwater Baghdad deal could be scrapped if the FBI investigation found wrongdoing, Starr said: "We can terminate contracts at the convenience of the government if we have to."

"I am not going to prejudge what the FBI is going to find in their investigation. I think really, it is complex. I think that the U.S. government needs protective services," he said.

"Essentially I think they do a very good job. The September 16th incident was a tragedy. It has to be investigated carefully," he added.

"I am concerned (about the Iraqi response) and yet at the same time there have only been about three incidents, three escalation of force incidents, since September 16," he said.

04-05-2008, 11:21 AM
Just let everything die down, then slip a new contract in under everyone's radar.

04-08-2008, 06:10 AM
US renewed Blackwater contract without consulting Iraq: PM

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_approved_Blackwater_contract_without_consulting _0407.html

Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday April 7, 2008

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the the US State Department had renewed the contract of private security company Blackwater USA without the approval of the Baghdad government.

Blackwater is the most controversial of several private security firms tasked with protecting high-profile US officials and foreign diplomats in Iraq.

The company's guards shot dead 17 Iraqi civilians while escorting an American diplomat through Baghdad in September 2007 in an incident denounced as a crime by the Iraqi government.

Blackwater says its guards reacted in self-defence.

"As far as Iraqi government is involved, this issue is still under consideration and we are still discussing principles upon which foreign security companies must operate, especially this company because they committed a massacre against Iraqis and until now this matter has not been resolved," Maliki said on Monday in an interview with US television network CNN.

"No judicial action has been taken, no compensation has been made. Therefore the extension requires approval of the Iraqi government and the government wants to resolve the outstanding issues with this company," Maliki said.

"I would say the US side should not move to renew the contract until the outstanding issues of the company are finalised. I feel the decision was taken without the approval of the Iraqi government."

The US State Department said on Friday it is extending its diplomat protection contract for Blackwater despite the fatal shootings.

The company's contract was set to expire on May 7.

Foreign security companies at currently not subject to Iraq law, but at the same time are not governed by US military tribunals, allowing them to operate without regard to any repercussions.

US defends decision to renew Blackwater deal in Iraq


Published: Monday April 7, 2008

The State Department on Monday cited the need to protect staff in Iraq as justification for renewing a contract with private security firm Blackwater USA without prior Iraqi government approval.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, interviewed by the US television network CNN, complained that Washington had renewed the contract without his government's approval, adding the issue was still under consideration.

When asked to comment on Maliki's remarks, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters: "First of all, it's fundamentally a decision for us to take, about how we protect our people.

"The authority and responsibility with making those kinds of decisions has to reside with us," McCormack said.

"Now, of course we are going to consult very closely with the Iraqi government in how we do our jobs. But fundamentally, we're responsible, and solely responsible, for protecting our people," he said.

"The decision to renew the Blackwater contract was really done on the basis of the need to protect our people in doing their jobs," McCormack said.

"That doesn't mean that at some point, pending the final results of the FBI investigation, you can't go back and look at that investigation" into the shooting deaths last year.

The company's guards shot dead 17 Iraqi civilians while escorting an American diplomat through Baghdad in a September 16, 2007 incident that the Iraqi government considers a crime.

Blackwater says its guards reacted in self-defense.

Gregory Starr at the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security announced the renewal of the contract last Friday.

The company's contract was set to expire on May 7. It was renewed because Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have not yet concluded their inquiry into the September shooting, Starr said.

Foreign security companies at present are not subject to Iraq law, but at the same time are not governed by US military tribunals, allowing them to operate without any repercussions for their actions.