195 Blackwater Shootings Bared

Guards fired first in 80% of incidents since 2005
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2007 6:44 AM CDT
A private contractor gestures to their colleagues flying over in a helicopter as they secure the scene of a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq in this Tuesday, July 5, 2005 file photo. For all its...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Private security firm Blackwater USA has been involved in shooting incidents nearly every week since 2005, according to an investigation by the Democratic congressional staff. While Blackwater is contracted to use force only defensively, company guards used force at least 195 times, firing first 80% of the time, the report found. In at least two cases, the firm paid money to victims' relatives to cover up shooting deaths.

Blackwater's use of force in Iraq has been "frequent and extensive," and usually involves "firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire," the report stated. Guards often shoot from vehicles and don't stop to assist the injured, the report said.  Blackwater's CEO Erik Prince on will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today.