Saturday, 6 October 2007

Blackwater comes under closer scrutiny

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has revealed that private security company, Blackwater USA, will be subject to close supervision of its activities in Iraq. This comes as investigations into multiple shooting deaths associated with the company continue. .

Under the new rules, a State Department agent will accompany the company on all missions and convoys undertaken in Iraq, and each and every operation will be captured on video camera.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie says this is a welcome move and says he is happy the Secretary of State moved so quickly.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that will provide for prosecutions of any criminal activity committed by U.S. contractors in Iraq. However, the White House has already expressed its opposition to the bill and George Bush is expected to veto the bill before it gets legislated into law.

This still leaves the question of where Blackwater employees would be prosecuted if a current FBI investigation determines there is a case to be answered.

Al-Rubaie, speaking in Washington, said of course they should face trial in Iraq.

"It is a huge sovereignty issue," he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "we need to sort this out and sort it out quickly."

But with the Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 still in place, a measure that gives the U.S. military and civilian contractors immunity from prosecution by Iraqi authorities for any acts – including murder – it doesn't seem likely that any arrest warrants will be issued any time soon.

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