Federal prosecutors are close to seeing indictments against some of the Blackwater security guards linked to the shooting in Baghdad last September that left 17 civilians dead, the Washington Post reports. Target letters have gone out to six Blackwater contractors, sources tell the Post, indicating a high likelihood that the Justice Department will pursue charges. An Iraqi investigation found that the contractors had fired without provocation; Blackwater claims the shooting was a response to insurgent fire.
Charges would likely be levied under a military act that has in the past only been applied to Defense Department contractors; the Blackwater guards, however, were working for the State Department, so some argue that they cannot be prosecuted under the act. Target letters offer suspects an opportunity to contest evidence offered against them. A final decision may not be made until October, the Post's sources say.