Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two Stories Today From Iraq -- Without Comment

"State Department Struggles To Oversee Private Army:
The State Department Turned to Contractors Such as Blackwater Amid a Fight With the Pentagon Over Personal Security in Iraq
By Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post, October 21, 2007.
Last Christmas Day in Baghdad, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad received a furious phone call from Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi. An American -- drunk, armed, wandering through the Green Zone after a party -- had shot and killed one of his personal bodyguards the night before, Mahdi said. He wanted to see Khalilzad right away.....

Within 36 hours of the shooting, Blackwater and the embassy had shipped him (the alleged perpetrator) out of the with previous killings by contractors, the case was handled with apologies and a payoff. Blackwater fired Moonen and fined him $14,697 -- the total of his back pay, a scheduled bonus and the cost of his plane ticket home, according to Blackwater documents. The amount nearly equaled the $15,000 the company agreed to give the Iraqi guard's family.

"US raid kills Iraqi 'criminals'"
BBC News, October 21, 2007
Forty-nine Iraqi "criminals" have been killed in three separate raids in Sadr City in the capital, Baghdad, the US military says.

"The operation's objective was an individual reported to be a long-time Special Groups member specialising in kidnapping operations," it said.

Iraqi sources said women and children were among those killed, but the US said it was not aware of this.....

US military said its troops had returned fire after coming under sustained attack from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades from nearby buildings as they began to raid a series of buildings in the district.

Ground forces then called in air strikes.

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