MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
There was another shooting by private security contractors in Iraq today. This time, two women were killed when guards opened fire on a car in an intersection in central Baghdad. The Iraqi Interior Ministry says that a security company based in Dubai, Unity Resources Group, has apologized for that incident. Blackwater USA was not involved.
NORRIS: Blackwater has been the focus of anger and outrage in Iraq since its guards killed 17 people last month. There are a number of investigations into that incident. The Iraqi government has just completed an investigation.
Earlier today, I asked Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh to describe its conclusions.
NORRIS: It shows that there is no threat being subjected to the Blackwater, and the Blackwater had used an excessive force to shoot the civilians and innocent, and accordingly, 17 people being killed and 27 being wounded. The report see this as a crime and this should be subjected to an - to a justice.
NORRIS: Now this, of course, contradicts what Blackwater has said. The contractors have said that they fired only after they were first fired upon.
NORRIS: Well, they could say whatever they want. But at the end, there are evidences. The committee had depend on the evidences and the - of the people there available, and we have the injured people, they have give their evidences.
NORRIS: Were your investigators able to interview or debrief those Blackwater contractors before they left the country?
NORRIS: No, we don't have a chance to meet them because Blackwater didn't bring them on.
NORRIS: I'd like to ask you about the compensation you're seeking for the victims' families - $8 million for each of the families of the 17 victims. How did you come up with that $8-million figure?
NORRIS: Well, I cannot comment on this one because this is not coming from our side, from - not from the government. This was a release from some of the media. I cannot confirm this figure. But definitely, they should compensate the victims definitely.
NORRIS: I just want to make sure I understand what you're saying. You confirm that the Iraqi government is recommending that Blackwater compensate the families but you can't confirm the amount of that compensation.
NORRIS: Well, I cannot (unintelligible) say that's the compensation. At the end, they should subject to the justice. And that justice will decide what to do with those people who violate this - the law. The second issue is that there should be certain compensation for the victims. At the end, I cannot answer this one because this is, at the end, the judge law, and they should decide as per the court.
NORRIS: As you see it, should the rules that now govern private security firms change, and if so, how should they change?
NORRIS: Well, some of the companies, unfortunately, including the Blackwater, they didn't renew their license. They didn't meet the requirement of the Ministry of Interior regulations. And definitely, from now on, anyone who is not following all the regulations, all the standard of the Iraqis, you would not be allowed to move in Iraq because you will be under arrest. Any security company, which is not licensed, which has not meet to the Iraqi standard, will face the Iraqi law.
NORRIS: Is Blackwater licensed right now to operate in Iraq?
NORRIS: Well, Blackwater has been temporarily freeze. We banned them from operating until we get the final report.
NORRIS: But it's our understanding that Blackwater is operating now but with increased U.S. supervision from the State Department.
NORRIS: This is - means they are violating it, the Iraqi law. But we give clear instruction that whenever they come out with the Blackwater, Blackwater will be arrested. This is the instruction of the government to our security forces.
NORRIS: So, it seems like this could lead to a state of confusion and possibly even more incidents like the one on September 16th if police try to confront Blackwater contractors, who think they have a right to operate in the country.
NORRIS: Well, they can't really go to government and the government is only giving the right. This is clear for the Blackwater and for the others as well.
NORRIS: Ali al-Dabbagh, thank you very much for speaking with us, sir.
NORRIS: Thank you, Michele.
NORRIS: Ali al-Dabbagh is a spokesman for the government in Iraq. He joined us from his office in Baghdad.