Blackwater’s contract extended in Iraq

The State Department is extending its Iraq war contract with the mercenary company Blackwater USA, now known as Xe, for an "indefinite" period that sources say could be for "weeks or months," ABC News is reporting.

Blackwater’s contract, set to expire on Sept. 4, will continue until a replacement contractor, Dyncorp, can get up to speed.

Under the contract, a Blackwater subsidiary, Presidential Airways, provides air transport around Iraq for American embassy employees.

Dyncorp is not fully staffed and certified to take over the transporation and Blackwater’s contract remains in place.

The Iraqi government banned Blackwater from operating in Iraq after its guards opened fire in crowded Baghdad traffic in 2007, killing 17 Iraqis but the State Department continued to use the controversial mercenary firm in the face of protests.

Five Blackwater guards were charged with 35 counts of manslaughter and one turned informant against his former colleagues.