U.S. officials have already gone into overdrive to prevent the move. On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Malaki and vowed an investigation. But the Iraqi government appears to be holding ground. Earlier today Iraq Maliki's cabinet said it supports the ban and will review the legal status of all private military companies working in Iraq.
The shootout is only Blackwater's latest controversy in Iraq. The North Carolina-based firm operates under a multi-million dollar contract to protect U.S. officials and facilities. It's been allowed close to free reign under a murky legal environment that offers little to no oversight over its operations.
The author and independent journalist Jeremy Scahill has been closely following Blackwater. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Jeremy joins me in the firehouse studio.
And joining me from Washington, DC is Doug Brooks. He is President of International Peace Operations Association, a trade group for the private security industry. Blackwater is a founding member.
- Doug Brooks, President of the International Peace Operations Association. Blackwater is a founding member of the IPAO.
- Jeremy Scahill, Independent journalist, Democracy Now correspondent, author of "Blackwater: the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."
Nearly a year after a law was passed holding contracted employees to the same code of justice as military personnel, the Bush administration has not published guidance on how military lawyers should do that, according to Peter Singer, a security industry expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
A Congressional Research Service report published in July said security contractors in Iraq operate under rules issued by the United States, Iraq and international entities such as the United Nations.
All have their limitations, however.
A court-martial of a private-sector employee likely would be challenged on constitutional grounds, the research service said, while Iraqi courts do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute contractors without U.S. permission.