Blackwater joins fight against sea piracy

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Blackwater Worldwide is the largest of the State Department’s three private security contractors. Of the 987 contractors Blackwater provides, 744 are U.S. citizens. At least 90 percent of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts. The company is currently contracted by the U.S. government to provide security services in the Iraq war.

Twenty-seven Blackwater employees have been killed during various security missions in Iraq. In March 2004, four Blackwater employees were ambushed and killed in Fallujah, and their bodies were hanged on bridges.

In September 2007, Blackwater employees in Baghdad fatally shot 17 Iraqis, at least 14 of whom were killed “without cause” according to the FBI. Witnesses told investigators the attack was unprovoked, although Blackwater maintained that its guards were under attack and responded accordingly.

The Iraqi government initially said it expected to refer criminal charges to its courts in connection with the incident, but in October 2007 immunity from prosecution was granted by the State Department. While the Justice Department said any immunity deals offered to Blackwater employees were invalid, legal experts have said the U.S. government is unlikely to allow a trial in the Iraqi courts, because there is little confidence that trials would be fair.

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