The Iraqi government expects to refer criminal charges to the Iraqi courts within days in the killing of at least eight Iraqis by a private American security company, the state minister for national security affairs said Saturday, and he said that the government had received little information so far from the American side of the joint investigation.
The minister, Shirwan al-Waili, who has been closely involved in the Iraqi investigation, said that the inquiry was largely completed, and he made it clear that he believed the findings were definitive. “The shots fired on the Iraqis were unjustifiable,” he said. “It was harsh and horrible.”
Although Mr. Waili did not spell out exactly what the investigative committee would recommend to the Iraqi criminal court, a preliminary report of findings by the Interior Ministry, National Security Ministry and Defense Ministry stated that “the murder of citizens in cold blood in the Nisour area by Blackwater is considered a terrorist action against civilians just like any other terrorist operations.”
“The criminals will be referred to the Iraqi court system,” it stated.
What does that mean? It's hard to say. Civilian contractors are immune from punishment under Iraqi law, so this more a political statement than a legal one. But it still puts Blackwater and the Bush administration which hires these security contractors in a difficult position.
Also mentioned in the news is an investigation into illegal arms shipments to Iraq on the part of Blackwater. A federal criminal investigation is underway, the same investigation that State IG Howard Krongard has apparently done his best not to cooperate with.
When it rains it pours.