14 of 17 Blackwater Killings Unjustified: FBI

But prosecution of guards responsible may be stymied by immunity guarantees
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2007 4:46 AM CST
Plainclothes contractors working for Blackwater USA take part in a firefight in the Iraqi city of Najaf in this April file photo. The State Department may phase out or limit the use of private security...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Fourteen of the 17 Iraqi civilians Blackwater guards killed at a busy Baghdad intersection in September were unjustified shootings, FBI investigators have concluded. Three deaths—including a mother and son in a car—could be considered a valid use of lethal force in response to a perceived threat, the New York Times reports.  The FBI investigation is ongoing, but these findings are being reviewed by the Justice department.

Officials said as many as five guards apparently opened fire when shots from their own colleagues led them to think they were under attack. “I wouldn’t call it a massacre, but to say it was unwarranted is an understatement," said one official. But Justice may find it difficult to prosecute the guards because of legal protections granted war-zone contractors. An earlier military investigation concluded that all 17 shootings were unjustified.