Blackwater Worldwide has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified by the State Department that its five-year contract for services in Iraq at a cost of $1.2 billion will not be renewed in May. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations. The State Department’s action follows the refusal of Iraqi officials to license Blackwater to operate in the country. The “lingering outrage” over the September 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards that left 17 civilians dead were cited by U.S. officials as leading to the firing.
As expected, the shooting strained relations between Washington and Baghdad and fueled the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, where many Iraqis saw the senseless killings as a demonstration of American brutality and arrogance. But 5 former Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that include 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. No charges were brought against the corporation. The new U.S.-Iraq security agreement gives Iraq the authority to regulate private security companies operating in the country. Most American citizens don’t understand all that has gone on in Iraq during this long and expensive war.
Gross misconduct by contracting companies, like Blackwater, in Iraq can’t be tolerated. The State Department’s decision not to renew Blackwater’s contract in Iraq is a dramatic departure from the previous Administration and in my opinion, was proper. Instead of overriding the Iraqi government’s decision to deny Blackwater a license to operate, the Obama Administration respected the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and refused to renew Blackwater’s contract. Interesting, Blackwater has changed its name in an effort to polish its tarnished image. It will now be known as “Xe.” Hopefully, there will be more changing at this outfit and not changes just in name only.
Source: ABC News
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