(IP)- One of the most controversial and violent components of the war in Iraq, is going the way of the dinosaur.
The U.S Government contract with Blackwater Worldwide –regarding security services in Iraq– is expired. There are no specific plans to renew. The decision comes from Iraqi government officials, on the heels of a new security agreement that sharply curbs American power in Iraq. The agreement took effect on January 1 2009, after the expiration of the U.N Security Council resolution (in 2008).
When asked about the details of the contract and its expiration, State Department spokesman Robert Wood was vague.
“We’re in touch with the Iraqis to try and work out… the modalities of this. But you know, as we noted, we informed Blackwater… that we did not plan to renew the company’s existing task force orders for protective security details in Iraq.”
Iraqi officials were more to the point. “The contract is finished and will not be renewed by order of the Minister of the Interior”, says an interior ministry spokesman.
Blackwater’s history in Iraq is permeated with violent confrontations and loss of civilian life. Between 2005 and 2007, Blackwater security staff was involved in 195 known shooting incidents. In 163 of those cases, Blackwater personnel fired first; 25 staff members have been fired for violations of Blackwater’s drug and alcohol policy, and 28 more for weapons-related incidents.
The company’s most noted offenses include an incident in 2007, when Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqis. According to an FBI report, 14 of the victims were killed without cause. Adding insult to injury, the Pentagon issued a statement that same year, declaring that Blackwater contractors in Iraq are not subject to civilian criminal laws.
In November 2008, The State Department prepared to issue a multimillion-dollar fine to Blackwater Worldwide, for shipping hundreds of automatic firearms to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of the weapons were believed to have ended up on the country’s black market.
In the fallout, Blackwater recently changed its name to Xe, and founder Erik Prince dropped out of day to day operations to sit as chairman of the company.
Despite Xe/Blackwater’s contract expiration, there are no plans to completely do away with private military contracts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed this fact during a recent interview. “How we provide security and safety for those performing civilian functions is a very difficult question”, Clinton says. “I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, diminish our reliance on private security contractors. Whether we can go all the way to banning, under current circumstances, seems unlikely, but we ought to be engaged in a very careful review of where they should and shouldn’t be used, and under what circumstances. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”
The Washington Independent questioned whether private contractors DynCorp and Triple Canopy would want Iraqi contracts now that the Iraqi government put a provision in the Status of Forces Agreement stipulating that all contractors fall under its legal jurisdiction.
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