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Blackwater: Getting Away with Murder

Three weeks ago I wrote the following in a post titled "We Can't Count on Bush to Clean Up Blackwater"

Expecting the Bush administration to clean up the Blackwater situation is pointless. As documented earlier, not only does Bush have ties to Blackwater, but the State Department inspector general Howard Krongard is already under investigation for multiple reports of him threatening retaliation against State department employees who voluntarily speak to investigators about contractors.

And now we have Bush's State Department literally letting Blackwater contractors get away with murder on the September 16 killing of 17 Iraqi citizens:

A top US legislator demanded information Tuesday over reports that the State Department offered immunity to Blackwater employees in the wake of a Baghdad shooting that left 17 civilians dead.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to explain whether the private security group, which protects US diplomats in Baghdad under a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, had been offered protection from prosecution when the State Department investigated the September 16 shooting.

On Tuesday US media reported that the Blackwater guards were promised immunity during the department's inquiry.

According to The Washington Post, FBI agents now investigating the shootings are barred from using any of the information obtained in the State Department probe.[..]

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the department did not have the authority to give someone immunity from federal criminal prosecution.

"The kinds of, quote, 'immunity' that I've seen reported in the press would not preclude a successful criminal prosecution," he said.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd Tuesday called the reports "inaccurate" but gave no details.

"The Justice Department and the FBI cannot discuss the facts of the Blackwater case, which is under active investigation. However, any suggestion that the Blackwater employees in question have been given immunity from federal criminal prosecution is inaccurate," Boyd said in a statement.

If the reports of the immunity offer are accurate, though, it could reignite the controversy in the Iraqi capital over the role of private security firms such as Blackwater USA in the war-torn country, which a recent Defense Department report characterized as out of control.

The New York Times Tuesday said officials in the State Department's investigative unit, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, made the immunity offer though they lacked authority to do so.

Most of the guards involved in the shooting were promised they would not be prosecuted for anything they said in interviews as long as their statements were truthful, the Times reported.

And one law enforcement official told the Washington Post that some Blackwater guards cited the immunity promises in refusing to be interviewed by the FBI, which took over the investigation this month.

Here's Bush's State Department making sure no Blackwater contractors have any reason to be unhappy - Can't have them angry and talking to the press...

This Republican administration is corrupt at the core.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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