A spokesman for the Iraqi government continued to escalate the rhetoric on the Blackwater shootings yesterday, charging that security guards "deliberately killed" 17 Iraqi civilians in last month's massacre in Baghdad. Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iraqis intend to take legal action, despite a US ruling in 2004 that the firms are immune from Iraqi law.
Dabbagh said the Iraqi investigation into the incident turned up "no evidence that the Blackwater convoy came under any direct or indirect fire, or that it was even hit by stones." Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, said in testimony prepared for a House hearing last week that his men came under small-arms fire and "returned fire at threatening targets." A joint commission made up of U.S. and Iraqi officials met for the first time yesterday to review the operations of foreign security firms and establish new guidelines to protect public safety.