Blackwater, the private security firm involved in the shooting of 10 civilians in Baghdad Sunday, has operated outside US military regulations governing other security contractors in Iraq, the Washington Post reports. Deployed and protected by the State Department, they were exempted from oversight by the Iraqi Interior Ministry, and not subject to military rules on use of offensive weapons, the paper says.
“The Iraqis despised them, because they were untouchable,” says one diplomat. "They were above the law." Blackwater had allegedly opened fire on civilians six times before Sunday’s shooting—more than any other contractor in Iraq—and repeatedly clashed with Iraqi authorities over their tactics, the Post claims. The State Department says it holds contractors to a high standard. But Blackwater’s tactics are “obviously condoned by State,” says one regulator. “If they didn't like it they would change it.”