After report, FBI dumps plan to have Blackwater guard its investigation of itself
Update: Following this report, the FBI announced Wednesday that it had dropped Blackwater as its security escort "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict." More here.
Blackwater will be guarding the FBI's investigation of Blackwater.
This according to New York Daily News intelligence maven James Meek, who reports the half-dozen FBI agents headed to Baghdad this week to probe the troubled security contractor will be guarded by bodyguards from the very same firm.
The FBI was tasked with helping the US State Department investigate allegations that the behemoth US defense contractor shot and killed 11 Iraqi civilians last month.
According to Meek, agents plan to interview witnesses in the Green Zone, but when they're outside the protective shell of the US fortress, they'll be transported by armored Blackwater convoys.
"What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there," a senior US official purportedly said.
The FBI declined to comment.
A 15-page Democratic report Monday found that since 2005 Blackwater guards were involved in 195 "escalation of force" incidents in Iraq during which they fired their weapons, an average of 1.4 per week. In more than 80 percent of those cases Blackwater guards fired first, according to the report.
"The vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are preemptive, with Blackwater forces firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire," the report notes.
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.
Meek added 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.
More in the Daily News report here.