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Following report, FBI drops plan to let Blackwater guard investigation of itself
Published: Thursday October 4, 2007

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The FBI has dropped Blackwater USA as its security detail after a report Wednesday that revealed the bureau was planning to use the firm to guard their investigation of themselves.

FBI spokesman John Miller told the New York Daily News that the agency had dropped plans to use Blackwater guards as their security escort after the relevation "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict."

"The FBI team deployed from Washington to assist the State Department in the investigation of the events of Sept. 16 will have any additional security needs provided by U.S. government personnel," Miller added.

"The plan had been for Blackwater to fill this role," an official briefed on the FBI mission told the News.

Yesterday, a senior official said, "What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) also wrote the bureau a letter deriding their decision to have Blackwater guard their own investigation. Dropping the firm, he said, "would help alleviate the appearance of a conflict of interest and hopefully contribute to the credibility of this investigation in the eyes of the Iraqi people."

A Reuters headline Thursday morning declared "Blackwater won't guard FBI in Iraq shooting probe."

The wire service made no mention of the earlier report, nor Leahy's letter.

The FBI is tasked with helping the US State Department investigate allegations that the behemoth US defense contractor shot and killed 11 Iraqi civilians last month.

Blackwater has received more than $832 million in contracts from the State Department to guard diplomats and embassy officials in Baghdad, but the State Department has done little to reign in or punish rogue contractors. Often they are hindered by Iraqi law, which under an order issued by the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority, leaves all US contractors immune from prosecution.

Yesterday, the Daily News noted that the FBI usually uses its own protective units for investigators but that their internal force has been shrinking under the pressure of guard duty.