New Oversight for Blackwater: Too Little, Too Late? The U.S. has ordered new measures to improve the oversight of Blackwater USA, the security contractor working in Iraq, but some say the measures are too little too late. Blackwater security guards are accused of opening fire on Iraqi civilians in a deadly incident last month.
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New Oversight for Blackwater: Too Little, Too Late?

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New Oversight for Blackwater: Too Little, Too Late?

New Oversight for Blackwater: Too Little, Too Late?

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM: Sean McCormack is State Department spokesman.

SEAN MCCORMACK: She ordered that special agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security will be, again, accompanying Blackwater protective details. She directed the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to increase our capability to review material after an incident report.

NORTHAM: Rice also ordered better communications between Blackwater convoys and the U.S. military and the U.S. Embassy, and that all the radio transmissions be recorded.

MCCORMACK: Also, she has directed that we will mount video cameras in security vehicles and then begin keeping the archives of that video.

NORTHAM: McCormack disputed that putting video cameras and State Department personnel in the Blackwater convoys signal that the department didn't trust the armed contractors' report or give an accurate account of an incident, like the deadly shooting in September.

MCCORMACK: It is not a matter of trust. One might say this is a good way to protect all involved in the case that there is an incident that you do have, at the very least, some objective baseline account of what went on.

NORTHAM: Singer says the government worker is essentially a chaperone.

PETER W: That chaperone, that government employee is going to be making somewhere between three to five hundred dollars less a day than the people that he or she is supposed to be chaperoning and may not have contract authority over them.

NORTHAM: Singer says the new measures are a classic Washington response to a brewing controversy.

SINGER: First, we announce investigation after investigation after investigation - by my count, we have six different investigations. And then, you come back and you say, you know, within a couple of days, we've come up with these answers, major answers and in fact, when you look at them, they're not major. They're very small, and they don't actually deal with the fundamental problem.

NORTHAM: Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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