Blackwater Probe Hits Roadblocks

DOJ runs up against immunity deal, possible gaps in US law
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2008 11:33 AM CST
In a file photo Plainclothes contractors working for Blackwater USA take part in a firefight as Iraqi demonstrators loyal to Muqtada Al Sadr attempt to advance on a facility being defended by U.S. and...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Justice Department warned Congress last month that major legal obstacles stand in the way of any prosecution of private security firm Blackwater for a September shooting in Iraq, the New York Times reports. Immunity granted by the State Department to Blackwater employees represents a possible roadblock; Justice also has not resolved questions about whether federal law applies to Blackwater contractors.

A human-rights group, meanwhile, will issue today a report that argues that existing laws are sufficient to hold private contractors in Iraq accountable. What is actually lacking, Human Rights First contends in the investigation of the incident that killed at least 17 Iraqis, is the political will of a Bush administration mired in confusion, defensiveness, and "interagency finger-pointing."