Everything old in the Blackwater case is new again.
After the September 16 shooting at Nisour Squar, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government first demanded that Blackwater be expelled
from Iraq, only to quickly reverse itself
under State Department pressure. The Iraqis, seeking a graceful retreat from their initial position, claimed that a post-Blackwater "security vacuum" necessitated that Blackwater remain in the country. (In truth, Iraq has no power to kick Blackwater out, despite being, in theory, a sovereign nation.)
Ever since, the Iraqis adopted the fallback position that Blackwater was guilty of murder
and needed to be punished by an international court. But the same Iraqi investigation that called the shootings a murder also says that the government should kick Blackwater out of Iraq
within six months, according to the AP, which obtained a draft of the investigation's recommendations.
Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm's guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.
The demands _ part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press _ also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.
The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square _ which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.
Al-Maliki ordered the investigation by his defense minister and other top security and police officials on Sept. 22. The findings _ which were translated from Arabic by AP _ mark the most definitive Iraqi positions and contentions about the shootings last month.
So much for a security vacuum.