[Vision2020] Iraq Wants U.S. Company Punished

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Tue Sep 18 06:23:56 PDT 2007

>From today's (September 18, 2007) Spokesman Review -

"Are we not human beings and is this not our land?"
- Ahmed Ali, an Iraqi teacher


Iraq wants U.S. company punished 
Nine killed by Blackwater security firm
September 18, 2007

BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities on Monday threatened to revoke the license of a
private U.S. company that guards top American officials here, including U.S.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker, saying the company's employees killed at least nine
people Sunday in a shooting spree in central Baghdad.

Whether the Iraqi Interior Ministry will be able to enforce its decision to
ban North Carolina-based Blackwater Security from operating in Iraq is
likely to be a major test between the government of Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki and the U.S.
Blackwater, founded by a major Republican Party benefactor, is among the
most prominent of dozens of companies that provide security to both
government and private individuals in Iraq. 

"We will work on punishing and stopping the work of the foreign security
company that committed the criminal operation in Al-Nisour Square," Maliki
told Iraqi state television.

Abdel Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said Iraq also would
seek to try the Blackwater employees for the shootings.

In an e-mailed statement, Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the
company's guards had acted "lawfully and appropriately in response to a
hostile attack." 

U.S. officials provided few details of the shooting, which took place as
Blackwater guards were escorting unidentified State Department officials
through a central Baghdad neighborhood.

Witnesses said the dead included the driver of one car and a mother and
child whom he was transporting. Police said the dead included five Iraqi
police officers who'd tried to help. 

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the incident as a
"firefight," but three people who claimed to have witnessed the shooting
said only the Blackwater guards were firing.

The witnesses said the shooting began after a convoy of four gray armored
vehicles drove into Al-Nisour Square, a major intersection in central
Baghdad. Iraqi police stopped traffic to let the convoy pass, the witnesses
said. One car, however, drove up from behind the traffic to squeeze into a
spot at the front. As it did, the security contractors opened fire, the
witnesses said.

The young driver was killed instantly, but the shooting continued. The
witnesses said they believe a grenade was launched at the car, which burst
into flames, killing a young mother and baby in the back seat.

When Iraqi police approached to help the people in the burning car, the
contractors started shooting at them. 

None of the dead or wounded was an armed insurgent, police said.

Blackwater, headquartered in Moyock, N.C., is perhaps the best known
security company operating in Iraq. It was founded by Erik Prince, a former
Navy SEAL who has given more than $225,000 to the Republican Party and its

Iraqis expressed dismay at the events. "I don't think we have sovereignty in
this country while the security companies have the authority to kill
Iraqis," said Ahmed Ali, 38, a teacher.

He said he heard the shooting and watched the ambulances respond. "Are we
not human beings and is this not our land?"


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men." 

- Thomas Paine (English Writer, 1737-1809)

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