US renews Blackwater's Iraq licence

Employees of security firm remain under investigation over fatal shooting.

    Blackwater has provided security for high profile
    US diplomats [File: EPA]

    The company currently has a five-year deal to provide personal protection for diplomats, which is re-authorised each year.
     
    Ongoing investigation
     
    The state department uses Blackwater to provide bodyguards and armed drivers for diplomats whenever they leave the so-called "Green Zone", where the US embassy is based.
     
    Your Views

    After five years, was the Iraq war worth it?



    Send us  your views

    Starr, who is head of diplomatic security, said that he would not "prejudge" the outcome of the FBI's investigation into the incident, although the government had the right to terminate any contract as it saw fit.
     
    "Essentially I think [Blackwater] do a very good job. The September 16 incident was a tragedy. It has to be investigated carefully," the Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.
     
    The FBI began an investigation last November to examine whether the firm's contractors had used excessive force or violated any laws during September's shooting in west Baghdad's al-Nisoor square.
     
    In December, government prosecutors reportedly narrowed the focus of the inquiry to three Blackwater bodyguards and gave others immunity for co-operating in the case.
     
    Iraqi anger
     
    The company has said that the convoy was under attack before it opened fire.
     
    However, the killings sparked fury in Iraq. An Iraqi investigation into the incident found that Blackwater's actions were unprovoked.
     
    A measure issued by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004 prevented foreign security contractors from being prosecuted in local courts and it remains unclear whether they could be prosecuted under US law.
     
    After the incident, the state department altered the contract to tighten rules of engagement, put cameras on all convoys and added a diplomatic security officer to ride along with each detail.
     
    After the deaths, US commanders in Iraq said they were often unaware that security firms were moving through their areas of responsibility until after such an incident has taken place.
     
    North Carolina-based Blackwater has about 1,000 employees in Iraq. It is the largest of three private security firms protecting US diplomats in the country.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    This part of 'The Crusades: An Arab Perspective' explores the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the Crusades.

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    A photojournalist describes how she posed as a prostitute to follow the trade in human flesh.

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    It's time to change the way we talk and think about Africa.