Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Blackwater highlighted as Iraq government overturns Directive 17
Iraq To Lift Immunity For Private Security Firms
Oct 30, 2007 8:15 am US/Pacific
(CBS) BAGHDAD The Iraqi government on Tuesday approved draft legislation lifting immunity for foreign private security companies, sending the measure to parliament, a spokesman said.
The question of immunity has been one of the most serious dispute between the U.S. and the Iraqi government since a Sept. 16 shooting involving Blackwater USA guards that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.
The government's decision followed reports that the State Department has promised Blackwater bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's shooting.
The State Department immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
State Department officials declined to confirm or deny that immunity had been granted. Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell has declined comment about the U.S. investigation.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the draft law approved Tuesday would overturn an immunity order known as Decree 17 that was issued by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the American occupation government until June 2004.
"It will be sent to the parliament within the coming days to be ratified," he told The Associated Press.
NOTE: Coalition Provision Authority Order 17
Article 1 of Section 2 of CPA order 17 issued by then US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, stipulates that the "multinational force, foreign liaison missions, their personnel, property, funds and assets and all international consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process."
Blackwater is still doing business as usual from their headquarters in the Green Zone ...G:
Ambassador Ryan Crocker said on Oct. 25th
"Something bad did happen and what we've got to do now, sobered by that, is then look at the whole thing and that's what we've done,".
One of the most serious disputes with the Iraqi government hinges on an immunity decree for security contractors issued by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the American occupation government until June 2004. The order, known as decree 17, was made just before he handed sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said his Cabinet is drafting legislation that would overturn Decree 17 and force the State Department to replace Blackwater with another security company.
Crocker said he was unaware al-Maliki had taken that step.
"Decree 17 hasn't been discussed with us," he said, referring to a bilateral committee of U.S. and Iraqi officials that is handling the fallout from the Sept. 16 shooting.