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Is Bush and Company trying to instigate more violence in Iraq? If so the decision to renew Blackwater’s contract for one year sure should achieve that goal.

The US State Department said Friday it is extending its diplomat protection contract for private security firm Blackwater USA, despite the incident last September in which Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

“I have requested and received approval to have Task Order 6, which Blackwater has to provide personal protective services in Baghdad, renewed for one year,” said Gregory Starr at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Blackwater is the most controversial of several private security firms tasked with protecting high-profile US officials and foreign dignitaries visiting Iraq.

Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians while escorting a US diplomat through Baghdad in a September 16, 2007 incident that the Iraqi government considers a crime. Blackwater says its guards reacted in self-defense.

The company’s contract was set to expire on May 7. It was renewed because Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have not yet concluded their inquiry into the September shooting, Starr said.

 

The reaction from Iraq reflects the decision was a mistake. The fact that the case reqarding the 17 iraq’s killed by Blackwater has yet to be resolved and the contractor immunity clause the state department has tried to enforce will only make matters more tense in my opinion. However, the State Department issued a bit of a caveat with the renewed contract. Blackwater must work under the rules of the Iraq government said Greg Starr, who heads the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. Good luck with that.

 This is bad news,” al-Maliki adviser Sami al-Askari said. “I personally am not happy with this, especially because they have committed acts of aggression, killed Iraqis, and this has not been resolved yet positively for families of victims.”

About 25,000 private contractors from three companies protect diplomats, reconstruction workers and government officials in Iraq. Under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, security contractors have immunity from Iraqi prosecution.

Al-Askari said he would push for the Iraqi government to contest the contract renewal.

“The U.S. government has the right to choose what contractors it chooses, but Iraq should also have the right to allow or ban certain contractors from operating on its territory,” he said. 

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