Blackwater's Lethal Contract Renewed

Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 people, including women and children, last September, prompting an outcry and protest from Iraqi officials.

"This is bad news," al-Maliki adviser Sami al-Askari said. "I personally am not happy with this, especially because they have committed acts of aggression, killed Iraqis, and this has not been resolved yet positively for families of victims."

About 25,000 private contractors from three companies protect diplomats, reconstruction workers and government officials in Iraq. Under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, security contractors have immunity from Iraqi prosecution.

Al-Askari said he would push for the Iraqi government to contest the contract renewal. "The U.S. government has the right to choose what contractors it chooses, but Iraq should also have the right to allow or ban certain contractors from operating on its territory," he said. Al-Askari said there is a general mood of displeasure within the Iraqi government because of the contract renewal.

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