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Shocker: NYT Rejects Blackwater’s Version

From the official “newspaper of treason,” the New York Times:

Iraqi and foreign members of a private security company stand on the rooftop of a house in Baghdad.

Iraqi Report Says Blackwater Guards Fired First

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and JAMES GLANZ

BAGHDAD, Sept. 18 — A preliminary Iraqi report on a shooting involving an American diplomatic motorcade said Tuesday that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman’s call to stop, killing a couple and their infant.

The report, by the Ministry of Interior, was presented to the Iraqi cabinet and, though unverified, seemed to contradict an account offered by Blackwater USA that the guards were responding to gunfire by militants. The report said Blackwater helicopters had also fired. The Ministry of Defense said 20 Iraqis had been killed, a far higher number than had been reported before…

“There was not shooting against the convoy,” said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government’s spokesman. “There was no fire from anyone in the square.” …

“We do understand that the security companies are subject to high levels of threat and they do a good job at protection, but this does not entitle them to immunity from Iraqi laws,” Mr. Dabbagh said. “This is what the Iraqi government would like to review.” …

American Embassy officials had said Monday that the Blackwater guards had been responding to a car bomb, but Mr. Dabbagh said the bomb was so far away that it could not possibly have been a reason for the convoy to begin shooting.

Instead, he said, the convoy had initiated the shooting when a car did not heed a police officer and moved into an intersection.

“The traffic policeman was trying to open the road for them,” he said. “It was a crowded square. But one small car did not stop. It was moving very slowly. They shot against the couple and their child. They started shooting randomly.”

In video shot shortly after the episode, the child appeared to have burned to the mother’s body after the car caught fire, according to an official who saw it.

In interviews on Tuesday, six Iraqis who had been in the area at the time of the shooting, including a man who was wounded and an Iraqi Army soldier who helped rescue people, offered roughly similar versions.

The Iraqi soldier, who said he was standing at a checkpoint on the edge of the square, said he thought the convoy believed the small car was a suicide bomber and opened fire. According to the wounded man, recuperating in Yarmouk Hospital, the car with the family was driving on the wrong side of the road.

The convoy began throwing nonlethal sound bombs, several witnesses said, to keep people in the area away. That drew fire from Iraqi Army soldiers manning watchtowers that are part of an Iraqi Army base on the square. Iraqi police officers, witnesses said, also appeared to be shooting.

The Iraqi soldier, who did not give his name but said he was from a company of Iraqi commandos, said he saw another soldier trying to motion to the convoy to move on, but he was shot as well…

The Iraqis’ accounts have not been verified, but the anger in their telling served to reinforce the feeling among Iraqis here that private security companies care little for Iraqi lives. In a war where perceptions are paramount, the effect is poisonous

In the clubby atmosphere of private security firms in Iraq, senior members of rival companies are often reluctant to criticize Blackwater.

But among the rank and file of security contractors, Blackwater guards are regularly ridiculed as cowboys who are relentlessly and pointlessly aggressive, carry excessive weaponry and do not appear to have top-of-the-line training.

Passing Blackwater convoys sometimes intimidates even Westerners, who fear coming under attack if they make a wrong move

For behold all of the stories about Blackwater appearing in The Times over the last few days:

  1. Times Topics: Blackwater USA

    News about Blackwater USA, including commentary, financial data and archival articles published in The New York Times.

  2. Who Watches US Security Firms in Iraq?

    …temporarily ban the security company Blackwater USA after a fatal shooting of civilians…conduct in Iraq,” the report said. Blackwater and other private security firms long…site of the incident Sunday involving Blackwater. Iraq’s government said Tuesday it…

    September 19, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

  3. Iraqi Report Says Blackwater Guards Fired First

    …diplomatic motorcade said Tuesday that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed…to contradict an account offered by Blackwater USA that the guards were responding to gunfire by militants. The report said Blackwater helicopters had also fired. The Ministry…

    September 19, 2007 – By SABRINA TAVERNISE and JAMES GLANZ – World

  4. Democrat Opens Inquiry Into Whether State Dept. Official Impeded Investigations

    …Waxman s inquiry reportedly involves Blackwater USA , the security company that was…reported that the unidentified company was Blackwater. Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for…the A.P. report. A spokeswoman for Blackwater, Anne Tyrrell, declined to comment…

    September 19, 2007 – By DAVID STOUT – U.S.

  5. Iraq PM Criticizes Blackwater

    …embassy stop using American security firm Blackwater after a deadly shooting and said he…what it called a flagrant assault by Blackwater contractors in which 11 people were…Sunday’s incident was sparked when Blackwater guards opened fire indiscriminately…

    September 19, 2007 – By REUTERS

  6. Iraqi PM Disputes Blackwater Version

    …prime minister on Wednesday disputed Blackwater USA’s version of a weekend shooting…day after Iraqi authorities ordered Blackwater to stop working as an investigation…differing accounts of the incident, with Blackwater insisting that its guards returned fire…

    September 19, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – World

  7. US, Iraq to Probe Blackwater Shootings

    …government and the company in question, Blackwater USA , but said the new panel would try…Wednesday, Iraq’s prime minister disputed Blackwater’s version of the shooting that left…differing accounts of the shooting, with Blackwater insisting that its guards returned fire…

    September 19, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

  8. Diplomatic Convoys Halted From Iraq’s Green Zone

    …Zone” after a shooting involving the Blackwater security firm that drew protests from…investigation of Sunday’s incident involving Blackwater guards in which 11 people were shot…U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said the Blackwater guards were reacting to a car bomb that…

    September 18, 2007 – By REUTERS

  9. Shooting Shines Light on Murky World Of Iraq Security

    …shooting incident involving U.S. firm Blackwater on Sunday in which 11 people were killed…revoke the license of the high-profile Blackwater and prosecute those involved in the…the case, and even harder to revoke Blackwater’s license because it most probably…

    September 18, 2007 – By REUTERS – World

  10. Correction: Blackwater Profile

    Filed at 1:45 p.m. ET RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a Sept. 17 story about the private security company Blackwater USA , The Associated Press gave the wrong first name for a contractor killed in 2004. He was Scott Helvenston, not Steve.

    September 18, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

  1. U.S. Bans Overland Travel by Diplomats in Iraq After Security Incident

    …did not say when the suspension would expire. The move came amid uncertainty over the status of the security contractor, Blackwater USA , which was involved in Sunday’s incident in which at least 11 people died and provides the bulk of security for U…

    September 18, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

  2. State Dept. Official Blocked Inquiries, Congressman Says

    …Baghdad. Also under scrutiny is whether Blackwater USA , the private security firm banned…Robert Gates had been informed of the Blackwater matter and had asked his staff to brief…Waxman letter raises new questions about Blackwater. Although the security company is not…

    September 18, 2007 – By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

  3. U.S. Contractor Banned by Iraq Over Shootings

    BAGHDAD, Tuesday, Sept. 18 Blackwater USA , an American contractor that provides…stopped short of saying whether the Blackwater guards in the diplomatic motorcade had…willingness to prevent such actions. Because Blackwater guards are so central to the American…

    September 18, 2007 – By SABRINA TAVERNISE – World

  4. Shooting Shines Light on Murky World Of Iraq Security

    …shooting incident involving U.S. firm Blackwater on Sunday in which 11 people were killed…revoke the license of the high-profile Blackwater and prosecute those involved in the…the case, and even harder to revoke Blackwater’s license because it most probably…

    September 18, 2007 – By REUTERS – World

Do you see any report of Blackwater’s account of the event?

Of course not.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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