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Secrecy, Civilian Deaths, and Blackwater USA

Nasrina Bargzie,
National Security Project
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September 24, 2007

On September 16, 2007, the U.S. military contractor Blackwater USA was involved in a shooting that left at least eight Iraqi civilians dead. This wasn’t the first time Blackwater was involved in civilian casualties in Iraq. According to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, there have been at least six other incidents involving Blackwater and civilian casualties. A U.S. general keeping his own count tracked at least a dozen shootings in Baghdad between May and July of 2005, with six Iraqis being killed by military contractors.

How many incidents of civilian casualties are attributable to military contractors like Blackwater? It’s unclear. How many such contractors operate in Iraq? This too, is unclear, with some news sources estimating 20,000 to 30,000 and others estimating as many as 50,000 or more.

Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a complaint in federal district court seeking information about civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we Americans can make informed decisions about the war.

Transparency can only lead to accountability. What exactly is the Bush administration afraid of?

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