Blackwater guards ignored orders before Iraqi civilian killings: US lawsuit News
Blackwater guards ignored orders before Iraqi civilian killings: US lawsuit

[JURIST] Blackwater security contractors who were involved in the September 16 shooting [JURIST report] of Iraqi civilians ignored a direct order from Blackwater and US State Department personnel prior to the shooting incident, according to an amended complaint [PDF text; press release] filed in US federal court Monday on behalf of several of the victims. The lawsuit [JURIST report] was brought by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which said Tuesday that the amended complaint alleges that:

Blackwater personnel who fired on the innocent civilians had ignored directives from the Tactical Operations Center ("TOC"), which was manned by both Blackwater and Department of State personnel, to stay in another area with State Department personnel they had dropped off until further instructed to leave the area.

The complaint also alleges that:

Blackwater routinely deploys heavily-armed "shooters" in the streets of Baghdad with the knowledge that up to 25 percent of them are chemically influenced by steroids or other judgment-altering substances, and fails to take effective steps to stop and test for drug use.

The allegations against Blackwater [corporate website; JURIST news archive] have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US.

Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. The US Justice Department said earlier this month that it has not yet decided whether it will file criminal charges against the Blackwater guards, though there were reports last week that a federal grand jury has opened an investigation [JURIST reports] into the shootings. The Iraqi cabinet has approved a draft law that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution and the US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST reports]. AP has more.