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Friday, September 21, 2007

Blackwater back on the job.

As reported in the article:
A top aide to Maliki conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to expel Western security contractors.
Indeed, it is difficult because Iraq is not sovereign at least in areas such as this. The US will decide if and when Blackwater is relieved of its duties. Probably at most some blood money will be paid for the deaths.


Blackwater USA Back On Limited Iraq Duty

BAGHDAD, Sept. 21, 2007
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(CBS/AP) The U.S. Embassy resumed limited convoy movements with Blackwater USA protection in Baghdad, four days after all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials was suspended in response to Iraqi outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the American security firm.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said the decision was made after consultations with the Iraqi governments and the convoys will be allowed to leave the heavily fortified Green Zone on a select basis.

"All movements supported by the PSDs have to be mission-essential," she said, referring to an acronym for personal security details run by Blackwater and other security contractors protecting Westerners and other dignitaries in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday she had ordered a "full and complete review" of security practices for U.S. diplomats.

Rice said she had directed the State Department to examine "how we are providing security to our diplomats."

Rice had no comment about Friday's resumption of Blackwater-protected convoys but paid tribute to the guards from the firm, one of three that provide security for U.S. diplomats and other civilian government officials in Iraq.

"We have needed and received the protection of Blackwater for a number of years now, and they have lost their own people in protecting our people in extremely dangerous circumstances," she said.

"We take very seriously what happened," Rice said, noting she had called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday to express regret.

A top aide to Maliki conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to expel Western security contractors.

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into Sunday's incident was ongoing, said a way out of the Blackwater crisis could be the payment of compensation to victims' families and an agreement from all sides on a new set of rules for their operations in Iraq.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said Friday that a report had concluded that Blackwater guards opened fire from four positions on a square in western Baghdad after a vehicle near their convoy failed to stop.

Iraqi witnesses and officials have offered several conflicting versions of events and it was not clear how the Interior Ministry report would affect a joint U.S.-Iraqi investigation.

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