FBI investigating Blackwater role in Iraqi civilian shootings Melissa Bancroft at 6:20 PM ET
[JURIST] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Monday that it would send a team of investigators to Iraq to study the circumstances surrounding a September shooting incident involving employees of the privately contracted security firm Blackwater USA [corporate website] that left 11 Iraqi civilians dead. According to the FBI, the US State Department [official website] has asked it to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued against the guards involved in the September 16 shooting. The US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report Monday noting that Blackwater fired 122 employees, more than one-seventh of its workforce in Iraq, in the past three years based on inappropriate behaviors involving alcohol, drugs, weapons and violence. The report also reveals Blackwater has been involved in an estimated 1.4 shootings a week in Iraq since 2005. Although private security firms are only authorized to use defensive force by the US State Department, Blackwater employees fired the first shots in more than 80 percent of the 195 incidents.
On September 16, Blackwater guards allegedly fired on civilians, killing 11 and prompting the Iraqi government to withdraw Blackwater's operating license [JURIST report]. In response to domestic outrage, the Iraqi Interior Ministry is proposing draft legislation to be submitted to the Iraqi parliament that places private security contractors under Iraqi legal jurisdiction. The Iraqi judiciary is also probing the killings [JURIST report] to determine whether to proceed with a criminal prosecution. AP has more.
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