An Act of Terrorism? Blackwater Sniper Shot Dead Three Iraqi Guards At Iraqi Media Center in February
Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post discusses his new account of the February killings. After a brief investigation, the U.S. government concluded that the actions of Blackwater fell within approved rules governing the use of force, but the Iraqi police described the shootings as an “act of terrorism.” [includes rush transcript] Legal and political woes continue for the private military firm Blackwater. Iraq’s Interior Minister announced this week he would authorize raids against Western military firms to ensure compliance with Iraqi weaponry laws. Scrutiny of the private military industry in Iraq has peaked following the killing of seventeen Iraqis by Blackwater guards in September.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, the Bush administration has shown its first audible signs of distancing itself from Blackwater. On Tuesday, the White House quietly missed a deadline to weigh in on a wrongful death case brought by families of three American servicemembers who died when a Blackwater aircraft crashed in Afghanistan. Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, a major Republican donor, said: “After the President has said that as commander-in-chief he is ultimately responsible for contractors on the battlefield, it is disappointing that his administration has been unwilling to make that interest clear before the courts.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post has * revealed* new details of a little-noticed killing by Blackwater operatives in Iraq earlier this year. On February 7th, Blackwater forces shot dead three guards working for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network in Baghdad. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as an “act of terrorism.” The police concluded that Blackwater opened fire without any provocation.
But the U.S. government concluded that the actions of the Blackwater guards fell within approved rules governing the use of force. The Iraqi Media Network sought to sue Blackwater in an Iraqi court, but an Iraqi judge rejected the petition, citing a 2004 law signed by L. Paul Bremer, the former head of the U.S. occupation. To date, neither Blackwater nor the U.S. embassy have apologized or paid any compensation to the victims’ families. Steve Fainaru is the Washington Post reporter who wrote this new account of the February killings.We contacted Blackwater to invite them on the program, but they did not respond to our requests.Steve Fainaru, foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, specializing in private security issues.