RAW STORY - The US State Department is preventing a House committee from
disclosing information that could "embarrass" Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki regarding an investigation of alleged corruption within his
government, a lawmaker alleges in a letter to Secretary of State
State also is meddling in a related investigation of private security
firm Blackwater, which has come under fire this month after a Sept. 16
shooting involving armed guards employed by the firm in which 11 Iraqis
were killed, the House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman says.
Blackwater asked committee members to avoid "asking questions ... that
might reveal sensitive operational and technical information," such as
how many guards were involved in the alleged massacre, the number of
weapons they used and the types of munitions they had available.
Waxman also says investigators on his committee cannot question State
Department officials on matters "that could embarrass the Maliki
government unless the Committee agrees to refrain from any public
discussion of their answers.
"State Department officials explained that any information about
corruption within the Maliki government must be treated as classified,"
Waxman continued in a letter to Rice released Tuesday, "because public
discussions could undermine U.S. relations with the Maliki government."
NY TIMES - The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been
involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American
diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services
to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and
industry officials. . . The State Department keeps reports on each case
in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American
diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department
reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that
the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of
episodes in which they had resorted to force. The officials said that
Blackwater's incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees
of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United
States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State
Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians
WASH POST - According to federal spending data compiled by the
independent Web site FedSpending.org, however, the State Department's
Blackwater contracts vastly exceed those of the Pentagon. Since 2004,
State has paid Blackwater $833,673,316, compared with Defense Department
contracts of $101,219,261.