Iraq bill would lift contractor immunity
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 total incompetence of Condi Rice's State Department and their inability or unwillingness to hold mercenaries accountable will work against the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq. Companies like Blackwater will simply leave rather than face the Iraqi court system. US soldiers will be required to guard the embassy employees and private contractors will be unable to get security and forced to curtail activities. This of course is just another downside to the administration's attempt to privatize everything.
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.
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.
Al-Dabbagh did not single out Blackwater but said: "According to this law, all security companies will subjected to the Iraqi criminal law and must obey all the country's legal regulations such as: registration, customs, visas, etcetera."
While at least some in the State Department are saying no blanket immunity deal was offered to Blackwater guards for their statements regarding a shootout in Iraq last month that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead ABC has obtained a copy of what appears to be a blanket immunity deal.
The wording of the immunity is included at the beginning of the Blackwater guards' sworn statements, which have been obtained by ABC News.It would seem that it's time for the Iraqi government to take things into their own hands which is just what they are doing.
In each of the statements, the guards begin by saying "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001."