Friday, October 26, 2007 at 11:00AM
Blackwater USA, a great American business success story and a company doing more than any other to protect American lives in Iraq, has recently come under political shelling for a September firefight that resulted in several Iraqi deaths. Though Blackwater claims the shootings were in self defense, and point to bullet holes in their vehicles as proof, the absence of any video of the incident has made it difficult for the security company to respond to accusations of being "trigger happy" and killing innocents. In partial response, the State Department will now require that all Blackwater convoys include video surveillance equipment. It’s interesting to note that over 2 years ago, Blackwater also requested convoy cameras over concerns that they might become the target of an enemy propoganda campaign…and was denied.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Oct. 5 ordered that video cameras and recording equipment be installed in convoy vehicles guarded by Blackwater USA. But according to internal Blackwater documents, the security firm asked the Department of State in May 2005 to install cameras in official U.S. motorcades
protected by its employees "in response to a false accusation against one of our
teams in Baghdad." The company considered the fact that that footage could be
used against it but decided in the end that the cameras and recording devices would work to its advantage and planned to use footage for training purposes.
Following the request, a former official with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security,
the Department of State's law-enforcement arm, contacted Blackwater and asked it to "stand down" due to unresolved legal issues. The matter was then dropped (Washington Times via Security Management Weekly).