BAGHDAD, (AP) – The government has upheld the findings of an official investigation of the alleged shooting death of 17 Iraqis by employees of Blackwater USA and is pressing the U.S. Embassy to expel the private security company from Iraq, officials said Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, they said a Cabinet meeting Tuesday also decided to set up a committee to look into the legal aspects of repealing a 2004 directive issued by L. Paul Bremer, chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the former U.S. occupation government in Iraq, that placed private security companies outside Iraqi law. The Bremer directive is known as “Decree 17.”
The Iraqi probe into the Sept. 16 shooting at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square has established that Blackwater personnel guarding a State Department convoy opened fire at Iraqis without provocation. Blackwater denies this, arguing that they had come under attack.
The officials said Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting also demanded that the U.S. Embassy, Blackwater’s biggest client in Iraq, expel the company. The government has made similar demands before. U.S. officials have said any action must wait until an American investigations is complete.