Iraq Denies Blackwater Contract
Official: 'They have a bad history'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 29, 2009 7:00 AM CST
Sami Hawas, left, was shot in the chest and a leg while driving his cab at Baghdad's Nisoor square more than a year ago, when Blackwater Worldwide security guards shot dead 17 Iraqi civilians.    (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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(Newser) – The Iraqi government has refused to grant Blackwater a license to continue its security work in the country, the New York Times reports. The controversial firm probably won’t exit the country at least until spring, as the US and Iraq work on rules for private contractors. “There are many marks against this company,” said an Iraqi official. “They have a bad history and have been involved in the killing of so many civilians.”

Blackwater sparked a firestorm of international criticism after its heavily armed guards fired on civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007, killing 17. Iraq has tried for years to push out the firm, which they claim is trigger-happy, but US officials have said they have no viable alternatives to provide security. Other contractors have been granted licenses, and Blackwater employees who haven't been charged with wrongdoing will be allowed to stay in Iraq if they switch firms, the Washington Post reports.