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September 18, 2007
Iraqi Government to Review all Foreign Security Contracts
On the heels of yesterday's announcement that the Iraqi government had banned US security contractor Blackwater from the country, there is now a review of all security contractors underway in Iraq:
The Iraqi government said today that it would review the status of all foreign and local security companies working in Iraq after a shooting that left eight Iraqis dead.
Blackwater USA, an American contractor that provides security to some of the top American officials in Iraq, was banned from working in the country by the Ministry of Interior after the shooting on Sunday, which involved an American diplomatic convoy.
A spokesman for the Iraqi government, Ali al-Dabbagh, said that the cabinet met today and supported the decision to cancel Blackwater’s license and begin an immediate investigation. The ministry has said that it would prosecute the participants in the shooting, but a law issued by the American occupation authority prior to the return of sovereignty to Iraq in 2004 grants American contractors, along with American military personnel, immunity from Iraqi prosecution.
I'm sure the people of Iraq are watching this incident very closely. Just how much power does Prime Minister Maliki have over the occupation forces? Can Americans be subject to Iraqi justice?
And perhaps most importantly, just who controls these security contractors? Blackwater had a contract with the State Department to protect its employees. Other security contractors are actually employed by private companies who supply the army. The situation has always been confused with the contractors not under orders from the army or apparently anyone else except their own company bosses.
The incident that occurred in Baghdad which initiated this review is still unclear. No one doubts there was shooting at the diplomats. But the civilian casualties call into question the judgement of the contractors as well as their expertise.