Friday, October 12, 2007
But will anything be done? Doubtful.
Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.
"It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting," said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa, whose soldiers reached Nisoor Square about 20 to 25 minutes after the gunfire subsided.
His soldiers' report - based on their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police - concluded there was no enemy activity involved and described the shootings as a "criminal event." Their conclusions mirrored those reached by the Iraqi government, which has said the Blackwater guards killed 17 people.
The soldiers' accounts contradict Blackwater's assertion that its guards were defending themselves after being fired on by Iraqi police and gunmen.
Tarsa said they found no evidence to indicate the Blackwater guards were provoked or entered into a confrontation.
"I did not see anything that indicated they were fired upon," said Tarsa, 42, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
He also said it appeared that several drivers had made U-turns and were driving away from Nisoor Square when their vehicles were hit by gunfire from Blackwater guards.