Security Contractors In Iraq

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Security contractors from Blackwater, USA securing a road in Baghdad. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Blackwater, Custer Battles, DynCorps, Triple Canopy, Agility Logistics. They're among the more than 300 security contractors reported to have worked for the United States government in Iraq. They protect U.S. and Iraqi officials, guard buildings and convoys. Contractors are often former military. They are generally well armed, and well paid. But, there is very little direct oversight by the government or military. Since the war began in 2003, several controversial events have come up. NPR's Corey Flintoff compiled a timeline of several notable events involving Blackwater USA, to which I'll add several other dates:


March 2004: Iraqi insurgents kill four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, Iraq. Their bodies are set afire and dragged through the streets before being hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River. The incident was one of the factors leading to the first Battle of Fallujah in April, in which the American military tried unsuccessfully to capture the city.

June 2004: Coalitional Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer issues Order 17, making private contractors immune from Iraqi law.

September 2004: Private contractor Custer Battles is barred by the Pentagon from receiving further U.S. government contracts.


June 2005: Blackwater guards shoot and kill an Iraqi man in Hilla, south of Baghdad. The guards fail to report the incident, which a U.S. State Department memo describes as "the random death of an innocent Iraqi citizen."

September 2006: A Blackwater security convoy traveling on the wrong side of the road collides with a civilian vehicle. Blackwater personnel reported that they couldn't rescue the civilian driver, because his car burst into flames.

December 2006: A Blackwater guard is accused of killing one of the security guards of Iraq's vice president in the Green Zone. Blackwater fires the man for "violating alcohol and firearm policy," but he is not prosecuted.

September 2007: Blackwater guards on a State Department convoy open fire in Nisoor Square in Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqis and wounding about two dozen others. An FBI investigation finds that at least 14 of the shootings were not justified.

November 2008: Federal prosecutors draft an indictment against six Blackwater security guards who killed 17 civilians in a crowded square in Baghdad.

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