BLACKWATER UPDATE….The Washington Post reports that U.S. soldiers were present in Nisoor Square last month when Blackwater guards opened fire and killed 14 Iraqis. Apparently the American troops back up the Iraqi account of what happened:
U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official.
….The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government’s contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded.
“It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong,” said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. “The civilians that were fired upon, they didn’t have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them,” he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official said.
In related news, the House voted 389-30 to bring “all United States government contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law.” Under the new law, the FBI would be the lead agency investigating any accusations of wrongdoing.