Iraq Probe of U.S. Security Firm Grows
Blackwater, Accused of Killing 11 on Sunday, Cited in Earlier Deaths
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 22, 2007; Page A01
BAGHDAD, Sept. 21 — Iraq’s probe into a deadly shooting by Blackwater USA in Baghdad last weekend has expanded to include allegations about the security firm’s involvement in six other violent episodes this year that left at least 10 Iraqis dead.
. . . The ministry said Blackwater guards fired without provocation at a Baghdad square on Sunday, killing 11 people and wounding 12. The shootings sparked outrage across the country and spurred the strongest effort yet by Iraq’s government to assert control over the tens of thousands of security contractors who operate without regulation and sometimes with impunity in the country. They have been shielded for years from Iraqi laws by a regulation written by U.S. occupation authorities before the nation’s post-invasion government was formed.
. . . Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that she had ordered a “full and complete” review of the department’s handling of security contractors in Iraq. “We will review how we carry out our security,” she told reporters in Washington. “We take seriously what happened in Iraq.”
C’mon, Condi. What possible excuse can the State Department have for hiring thugs and mercenaries to escort its representatives through the country being serviced? The State Department mission in Iraq (one would hope) is to provide support at all levels to Iraqi citizens, not terrorize them with hired guns.
Every foreign American embassy I ever visited was guarded by clean-cut, embarrassingly courteous and efficient U.S. Marines. Has the Corps stopped providing this service? When I visit the embassy in Prague, I am not greeted by Blackwater.
Perhaps the Pentagon told you this screwed-up war has put too much strain on American forces to provide ordinary (as well as historic) military support of embassy requirements. Perhaps they think it doesn’t matter. Even so, Ms. Rice, those American flags flying on the front fenders of embassy vehicles hardly deserve thugs in private security uniforms as outriders.
That’s how Russian oligarchs travel.