Contractors Investigate Contractors In Iraq


It’s now been over a year since Blackwater contractors opened fire in a Baghdad traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding 24 others. (To date, no one has been charged with a crime, but six Blackwater guards received target letters from the Justice Department in August, indicating that indictments could soon follow.) The shootings set off a firestorm of media criticism and a renewed effort in Congress to rein in the private security free-for-all in Iraq.

To that effect, the State Department, acknowledging problems with the collection of evidence at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, established a special force tasked with investigating suspected contractor crimes. According to State Department Undersecretary for Management, the new Force Investigation Unit (FIU) was to be “composed of State Department employees.” But in a twist that should not surprise any of us at this point, it turns out that more than half of the new unit is staffed with private contractors. According to ABC News, eight members of the FIU are on loan from the U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), a private company, in an “apparent violation of federal regulations that prohibit such work by contractors.”

Senator Russel Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, recently fired off a letter to Condoleezza Rice calling the use of private contractors to investigate other private contractors “highly troubling” and demanded that all FIU positions be filled by federal employees. “Anything less will further exacerbate tensions within Iraq and the region caused by our perceived failure to hold U.S. contractors accountable for misuse of force against civilians,” he wrote.

The State Department has yet to respond.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from James Gordon.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.