Blackwater faulted by U.S. military: report
Fri Oct 5, 5:24 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military reports from the
scene of a shooting incident in Baghdad involving
security contractor Blackwater indicates its guards
opened fire without provocation and used excessive
force, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
At least 11 Iraqis were killed in the September 16
incident, which has outraged Iraqis who see the firm
as a private army which acts with impunity.
Citing a senior U.S. military official, the Post said
the military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi
government's contention that Blackwater was at fault.
"It was obviously excessive. It was obviously wrong,"
a U.S. military official speaking on condition of
anonymity told the newspaper.
"The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have
any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP
(Iraqi police) or any of the local security forces
fired back at them," the official was quoted as
The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade
launchers in addition to machine guns, the official
told the Post. He said U.S. soldiers had reviewed
statements from eyewitnesses and video footage
recorded at the scene.
An Iraqi Interior Ministry official and five
eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting
involving the same Blackwater guards minutes after the
incident in Nisoor Square, the Post reported.
The FBI is leading a State Department investigation of
the incident, which occurred as Blackwater escorted a
diplomatic convoy in western Baghdad. The Pentagon and
a joint U.S.-Iraqi team are also looking into the
North Carolina-based Blackwater has said its guards
reacted lawfully to an attack on the convoy they were
In previously unpublished remarks prepared for
delivery at a congressional hearing, Blackwater
Chairman Erik Prince said the Blackwater guards "came
under small-arms fire" and "returned fire at
threatening targets," the Post reported.
Portions of the remarks dealing with the incident were
left out of his testimony after the Justice Department
warned Blackwater the incident was under
investigation, it reported.
The Post did not say how they obtained these remarks.
Blackwater is also under scrutiny over other shooting
incidents involving Iraqis.