Iraq unsafe for U.S. officials

US officials were barred on Wednesday from traveling by land outside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone amid fears of attacks after the alleged killing of civilians by private security firm Blackwater.

The suspension came as Washington grappled with ways to curb the damage from Sunday’s clash in which Blackwater guards escorting US embassy officials opened fire in a Baghdad neighborhood, killing 10 people and wounding 13.

Blackwater denies any wrongdoing but a top Iraqi judge has said the US firm, one of the largest private security operators in Iraq, could face trial.

“In light of a serious security incident involving a US embassy protective detail in… Baghdad, the embassy has suspended official US government civilian ground movements outside the (Green Zone) and throughout Iraq,” the embassy said in a notice to Americans, a copy of which was received by AFP.

“This suspension is in effect in order to assess mission security and procedures, as well as a possible increased threat to personnel traveling with security details outside the International Zone.”

Air travel is not affected by the ban and since most officials and diplomats in any case seldom venture outside the Green Zone unless by helicopter, the ban is expected mainly to affect those involved in construction projects.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Tuesday that the cabinet had decided to investigate the operations of foreign and local security companies to determine whether they operate in “compliance with Iraqi laws.”

He said the cabinet had also backed the interior ministry’s decision on Monday to cancel Blackwater’s operating licence.

In an interview with CNN, however, Dabbagh said the government did not intend revoking Blackwater’s license indefinitely.

“We do need them to respect the law and the regulation here in Iraq,” he said.

US and Iraqi sources said the shooting erupted after a bomb exploded near a US diplomatic convoy, but a US government incident report said armed insurgents fired on the convoy and Blackwater guards responded.

“Blackwater’s independent contractors acted lawfully and appropriately in response to a hostile attack in Baghdad on Sunday,” the North Carolina company said in a statement.

US legal experts said the contractors may be immune from prosecution under a measure conceived by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority not long after the March 2003 invasion.

The Pentagon said it was taking a hard look into the US military’s use of private security contractors in Iraq.

A spokesman for the US Central Command said 7,300 private security personnel were in Iraq under contract to the US Defence Department as of July 5. Overall, there were 137,000 people in Iraq on Defense Department contracts.

Those figures do not include private security personnel or others under contract to the State Department — like the Blackwater contractors in the shooting — or other US agencies.

And, US officials said, it was unclear whether — or if — any US nationals involved would be tried under US or Iraqi law over the incident, which Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has angrily branded a “criminal” act.

“That bit of it will come at the very end” of a probe into what happened, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said one day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Maliki to ease his concerns.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meanwhile, met the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the ambassador to Baghdad and was briefed about the security situation there on Tuesday.

Petraeus and Crocker gave “their assessment of the security situation and the progress being made by the coalition and Iraqi authorities in Iraq,” a spokesman for Brown told AFP.


  1. keith

    I think the answer is a simple one.

    All these embassy officials need to do is make up and fly a pennant on their vehicles that says “Mission Accomplished” whenever they travel outside the Green Zone.

  2. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!! That’s F*king Hilarious Keith!!! :)

    Georgie Dubya could do a press confrence
    to address the occupation
    saying: “We At The White House Reiterate Our Orson Welles Conviction That We Will Leave No Mission before It’s Time”

  3. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Shore enough!!! Iraq is safe!

    John McCain and George Bush are safe when they walk around Iraq!!!

    Except that anyone who shakes hands with Bush or McCain
    …seems to die…

    But at least it’s safe for Georgie & Johnny by gum!!!

  4. SEAL

    Donnat: it was safe for “all those senators” because they were being protected by Blackwater. It was the rest of Iraq that wasn’t safe from Blackwater.

    I have personally witnessed some of these “congress” visits to war zones. Of course they only see safe when they are there. Do you think the military is going to risk them in an unsafe area?

    Add to that the phony figures the Brass feeds them by cooking the books to “prove” to them how much safer it is now. For example: They show less deaths due to sectarian violence by not counting some of those deaths due to the manner or circumstances in which they died. Like if it wasn’t ritual or execution style, it isn’t counted. Or, not following up on the injured from a bomb blast to see how many of those died at the hospital. Doing these and other types of things can cut the sectarian deaths in half.

    Our government’s estimates of how many Iraqis have died since this war began have consistantly been only 10-20% of the numbers that all of the other independent sources have come up with. Primarily because they ignore civilian or non-combatant deaths. Remember Fallajah? Almost all of those killed were non-comatants. That is why the govenment’s figure was so low. Collateral damage is not counted by the military. That is somebody else’s job. But, of course, there is no somebody else because they will not allow the press in to see for themselves. Some of that sort of thing was exposed in Nam because the press had more freedom.

    This administration has shown a complete disregard for human life. We are ordered to bomb a house or building when intelligence has info that one of the bad guys is “supposed” to be there. Whether he is there or not we take out whole famlies with small children having dinner or a lot of civilians at a public place just on the really good chance we might get that one bad guy. Remember in the very beginning how we hit 3-4 (I think) different places with “bunker buster bombs” where they thought Saddam was going to be but none of those proved to have him present. We killed a lot of innocent people doing that. But, of course, they are declared cohorts, so it was OK.

    We will never know the truth of what is going on In Iraq. So far, everything they have told us has been proven a lie.

  5. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Hey Seal, I’m on Fire too! I can tell you are!

    Now since Bush is holding a Human Shield, namely General Betrayer, to hide behind, Ol’ Betrayer is getting some of those Nervous Nelie Republikaners back into line.

    Now Hairy Reed is talking in brave Churchillian tones
    stating the Democrats are going to stick to a mandatory
    withdrawl date.

    And my reaction to Hairy is: Hah! -Hah! -Hah! -Hah!

    Hairy’s declaration got a belly-whopping laugh out of me!

    I have a song for Hairy Reed: “When Danger Reared its
    ugly head, Hairy & Nancy Turned and Fled, Bravely taking to thier feet, they beat a very Brave Retreat!”

    “Brave! -Brave! -Brave! -Brave Democrats!”

  6. SEAL

    The repugnants have already shown they are back in lockstep with the president by defeating the first bill introduced that would guarantee the troops equal time at home before returning to combat. Senator Warner is back supporting Bush and that killed any chance for the democrats. Bush must have videotape of him with Monica or a 16 year old page or something. Therefore, the only real weapon the dems have is to refuse to fund the war and we all know that will never happen.

    I cannot understand why the repugnants continue to follow Bush because, unlike any other lame duck president, Bush has clearly shown he doesn’t give a damn about the party, only himself, and will destroy the party’s chances in the next election while hoping for a miracle to save his legacy. If he had a plan that had a chance of working, it would be understandable. But I know damn well he has been told by the joint chiefs that what they are doing will never work.

    So, all Bush has is his belief that he has been chosen by god and the cooperation of certain military betrayers more concerned with their career than our nation or the LIVES OF THEIR TROOPS to lie for him about the conditions in Iraq. His inability to ever admit he has made a mistake and his ability to somehow hold the repugnants in lockstep is destroying the republican party. That would be OK if it wasn’t for the number of people he is killing and the rest of the damage he is causing to the nation while doing it.

    I don’t understand why OJ is in jail and Bush et. al. are not.

  7. JudyB

    “Iraq unsafe for U.S. officials” Good! I say now is the perfect time mandate sending every damned one of their asses to Iraq who vote to give Bush the funding for his war.
    To date, U.S. Officials are the ONLY ones who have been safe in Iraq, and without abundant Blackwater employees to protect them, none of them would have had the balls to go for their bogus photo ops. I think its about time these “Officials” who have supported the continued funding for this Bush/Cheney Oil war to see what our troops are having to deal with daily..this might well be the best idea (pipe dream)I ever had…