Blackwater and the State Department say one thing -- namely, that Blackwater guards were under attack by Iraqi insurgents at Nisour Square on September 16. The Iraqi government and the U.S. military say another: Blackwater didn't come under fire on that fateful day, and instead used deadly force against a misperceived threat. So as a joint U.S.-Iraqi investigation gets underway, maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Iraqis and the U.S. military feel shunted aside by a hard-charging State Department and its FBI allies.
The New York Times reports that the joint inquiry, with the predominant U.S. component coming from the military, hasn't had access to initial State Department reports (at least one of which was written by Blackwater), nor has it had access to a separate investigation into the incident that State asked the FBI to lead. Furthermore, the military has neither been allowed to interview the four Blackwater guards at Nisour Square, nor been allowed to inspect the vehicle that they drove. That last point is crucial: examining the vehicle would easily determine whether any ballistic damage to it resulted from the kinds of weapons Iraqis typically fire or the sort that Blackwater is issued, which probably aren't the same. (There was another Blackwater convoy on the opposite end of the square.)
There's been a fair amount of friction over the past year between the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. But when it comes to the Blackwater investigation, they appear united in frustration.
âWe havenât received any information from the Americans about their own two investigations,â [a] senior Iraqi investigator said. âF.B.I. investigators have asked us to help them and share our information, as they have started a third investigation.â
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[A] senior American military officer said the State Department had also refused to provide details of its investigation. âWe have asked questions,â the official said. âThey have not responded back on those.â Both the Iraqi investigator and the American military officer spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to discuss the investigations publicly.