BLACKWATER UPDATE…The Iraqi government confirmed today that it has videotape of the Blackwater shooting incident from last week:
Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an incident last week in which 11 people died, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case had been referred to the Iraqi judiciary.
…. Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said Iraqi authorities had completed an investigation into Thursday’s shooting in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad and concluded that Blackwater guards were responsible for the deaths.
He told The Associated Press that the conclusion was based on witness statements as well as videotape shot by cameras at the nearby headquarters of the national police command.
How conclusive is this videotape? On the one hand, apparently conclusive enough that Iraqi officials are claiming they plan to bring criminal charges against the Blackwater shooters. On the other hand, perhaps in a sign that compromise is on the way, at least one Iraqi spokesman is already making conciliatory noises:
“If we expel this company immediately there will be a security vacuum that will demand pulling some troops off the battlefield,” Tahseen Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for the seven-month-old offensive against militants in Baghdad and surrounding areas. “This will create a security imbalance in securing Baghdad.”
David DeVoss who spent six months in Iraq working for USAID, describes his first encounter with a Blackwater guard: “The look was designed to inspire dread, but it was carried to such cartoonish extremes that the man resembled Yosemite Sam more than the Terminator.” More here.