Skip to comments.Blackwater license being pulled in Iraq
Posted on 09/17/2007 4:34:26 AM PDT by decimon
BAGHDAD - The Interior Ministry said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad.
The ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday incident.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight people were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.
"We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities," Khalaf said.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, provides security for many U.S. civilian operations in the country. Phone messages left early Monday at Blackwater's office in North Carolina and with a company spokeswoman were not immediately returned.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the incident was still under investigation. It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater was intended to be temporary or permanent.
U.S. troops are immune from prosecution in Iraq under the U.N. resolution that authorizes their presence, but Khalaf said the exemption does not apply to private security companies.
The U.S. Embassy said a State Department motorcade came under small-arms fire that disabled one of the vehicles, which had to be towed from the scene near Nisoor Square in the Mansour district.
An embassy official provided no information about Iraqi casualties but said no State Department personnel were wounded or killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
He said the shooting was being investigated by the State Department's diplomatic security service, and law enforcement officials working with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki late Sunday condemned the shooting by a "foreign security company" and called it a "crime."
Tens of thousands of private security contractors operate in Iraq some with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles.
The contractors, including many Americans and Britons, provide protection for Westerners and dignitaries in Iraq as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war.
Many have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution.
Iraqi police said the contractors were in a convoy of six sport utility vehicles and left the scene after the shooting. A witness said the gunfire broke out following an explosion.
"We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes. Everybody in the street started to flee immediately," said Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area.
The wartime numbers of private guards are unprecedented as are their duties, many of which have traditionally been done by soldiers. They protect U.S. military operations and have guarded high-ranking officials including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Baghdad.
They also protect journalists, visiting foreign officials and thousands of construction projects.
IED followed by attempted ambush of the convoy.
What's the problem? Sombodys "cousin" was in the ambush with the bad guys and got aired out?
Of course this begs the question why Blackwater et al are needed to protect U.S. State Dept. convoys, as this incident clearly demonstrates.
Fine, replace them with official U.S. military ops teams, train them to do force protection and force protection only, pay them the private contractor rate, and see the results change. Maybe, maybe not.
Keep in mind this is an AP story.
<< a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people >>
Methinks they were just doing their job. The message is, if terrorists dress like civilians you can’t shoot at them even if they blow up your vehicle. What cowardice.
Pay them more money.
There are so many holes in this story that it’s worthless.
And if civilians dress as military as with Blackwater?
That could rightly be said of every story.
By kicking out Blackwater, they might be cutting their own throats, literally.
Certainly every AP story.
If so then there are other contractors to replace Blackwater.
Of which news services do you approve? Should FR be all vanities?
That's been my question all along. I'm not comfortable with a private firm doing what the military ought to be doing.
Because the military is already stretched very thin.
You can’t spell crAP without AP.
Just to bring the point local, if you get assaulted, should you not be able to fight back and shoot your assailant, unless you are wearing a police uniform?
Their status always seems iffy to me. I recall discussions of private contractors in "the geographical entity formerly known as Yugoslavia" with many considering then to be nothing but Beltway Bandits.
What then is your non-crappy news source?
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