In the wake of the shooting deaths of 10 Iraqi civilians at the hands of private security firm Blackwater last weekend, the US and Iraq are forming a joint panel to probe the war's private security contractors. Rather than conduct forensic field studies of the incident, officials say, the committee will look at the "safety and security involving the operations of these contractors."
Co-chaired by an American and an Iraqi, the panel will review inquiries by both countries. Bystanders claim Blackwater "initiated random and indiscriminate shooting at civilians"; the company says its guards were returning fire from insurgents."We see the security firms ... doing whatever they want in the streets," says an Iraqi of the 25,000 private contractors employed in the country by the military.