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Other Killings By Blackwater Staff Detailed
State Department officials said yesterday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked for FBI involvement to ensure that there is no appearance of "institutional bias" in the department investigating its own actions. They portrayed Rice as determined to get to the bottom of the Sept. 16 incident and to ensure that the department, which employs Blackwater and two other private security companies in Iraq, can protect U.S. diplomats while the companies comply strictly with the rules of their contracts.
In a June 24, 2005, incident -- reported in a U.S. Embassy memo that was cited by the committee and obtained by The Washington Post -- a Blackwater security detail in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, shot a civilian man standing at the side of the street as the contractors drove by. "This is the case involving the PSD [personal security detail] who failed to report the shooting, covered it up, and subsequently were removed" from the city, an embassy security officer wrote in a July 1, 2005, report.
The officer, who met the victim's family, suggested that "$3,000 is the usual amount paid by the U.S. military civil affairs" in accidental deaths, "and an additional $2,000 is appropriate given the nature of the incident -- as it is the random death of an innocent Iraqi citizen."
In an Oct. 24, 2005, incident in the northern city of Mosul described in the company's documents, Blackwater personnel fired on a vehicle that appeared to be turning into their path. One of the bullets passed through the car and hit a bystander in the head. Blackwater reported the "shooting and probab[le] killing" but reported no attempt to aid the victim or his family.
A Nov. 28, 2005, Blackwater document reported that the company "terminated" two of its employees after a motorcade they were guarding "collided with or came in contact with approximately 18 vehicles -- six vehicles enroute" to the Iraqi Oil Ministry "and 12 vehicles en route back." Blackwater deemed the collisions "acts of random negligence" and said written statements by the two men were "invalid, inaccurate and, at best, dishonest reporting."
On Sept. 23, 2006, a Blackwater convoy escorting a diplomatic limousine was traveling on the wrong side of the road, and a civilian driver lost control of his vehicle while trying to get out of the way. The civilian car plowed into the limousine and crashed into a pole at the side of the road. The Blackwater team evacuated the limousine, disabled its radio equipment with gunfire and drove away.
"Team 46 would have rendered aid to the LN [local national] vehicle," Blackwater wrote in an after-action report, "however, the vehicle was in a ball of flames immediately."
An incident report by a different U.S.-contracted security firm, Triple Canopy, described the Blackwater employee's killing of the vice president's security aide as "murder." In its own assessment, Blackwater cited its employee for violating rules against handling weapons while drinking. Assessing his punishment, the company determined that "given the egregious nature of his violation, he should be prohibited from further affiliation with Blackwater and petition be made for the revocation of his security clearance."
In its own preliminary report, the embassy noted that the "regional security officer . . . authorized the release of Mr. [name deleted] to Blackwater USA."
Although a senior embassy official first suggested that the company pay between $100,000 and $250,000 to the victim's family, the committee memo reported, a diplomatic security official called those sums "crazy" and suggested that they could cause Iraqis to "try to get killed so as to set up their family financially." Blackwater eventually paid $15,000, which the State Department helped deliver to the family.