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Cablegate: Psd Incident Update: Embassy Approves Condolence

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #3504/01 2951859
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221859Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3966

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 003504

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2017
TAGS: AMGT ASEC PREL APER IZ
SUBJECT: PSD INCIDENT UPDATE: EMBASSY APPROVES CONDOLENCE
PAYMENTS, GOI INVESTIGATION REPORT RELEASED, RSO ACTIVITY

REF: A. BAGHDAD 03341
B. BAGHDAD 03307
C. BAGHDAD 03257
D. BAGHDAD 03164
E. BAGHDAD 03156
F. BAGHDAD 03143
G. BAGHDAD 03136

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Patricia A. Butenis for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d)

CONFIDENTIAL

SIPDIS

-------
Summary
-------

(C) 1. The Embassy obtained a copy of with the results of the
Government of Iraq's (GOI) investigation report of the
September 16 incident at Nisoor Square. The report portrays
the incident as an unprovoked attack on unarmed civilians,
references a number of other alleged incidents involving
Blackwater, recommends payments of $8 million and $4 million
for each death and injury respectively, and calls for the USG
to replace Blackwater within six months of the incident. It
is unclear to what extent the GOI is committed to these
recommendations or how it intends to implement them. The
Embassy has begun accepting claims from victims of the
incident, with 15 claims submitted so far. Post has approved
payments of $10,000 for each death, $5,000 for each injury,
and $2,500 for property damage. The Regional Security Office
(RSO) is implementing changes to procedures and increasing
linkages to the GOI for cooperation and information sharing
on PSD issues. The Embassy is awaiting the Department's
determination as to what information about past PSD incidents
can be shared with the Joint Commission, and is developing a
work plan to guide the meetings of the Joint Commission; this
work plan will also form the basis of Post's proposed
structure for the Joint Commission's report.

-----------------
GOI Investigation
-----------------

(C) 2. On October 11 the Ministry of Defense (MOD) gave the
Embassy a copy of the final report of its investigative
committee. The report was produced and endorsed by the eight
Iraqi members of the Joint Commission. The details of the
incident as described in the report portray a random and
unprovoked shooting involving small and medium arms fire
resulting in the deaths of vehicle passengers and bystanders.
The report states that there was no evidence the convoy was
fired upon, that a total of 17 Iraqis were killed, 27
wounded, 7 cars burned or damaged, and that 2 Iraqi Security
Forces were among the casualties.

(C) 3. The report concludes that the conduct of the PSD
violated Iraqi law and a number of CPA orders and that
therefore the incident is a pre-meditated murder for which
the Blackwater personnel must be held accountable. It also
claims that the Ministry of Interior has information on seven
other instances in which Blackwater personnel killed 10
Iraqis and wounded 15 others. It states that due to these
previous violations, the company's license was not renewed
after it expired in June 2006.

The report makes 5 recommendations:

-- 1: That a court investigate the crime and take actions as
stipulated by relevant CPA and Iraqi law immediately.
-- 2: That the Council of Ministers requests the U.S.
Government replace Blackwater within six months of the
incident and replace it with a more disciplined company.
-- 3: That Blackwater pay $8 million for each death and $4
million for each injury.
-- 4: That the MOI address the issue of Blackwater operating
illegally (without a license).
-- 5: That new legislation governing security contractors
drafted by the MOI and currently being considered by
legislative bodies be adopted as quickly as possible (Ref A).

------------------------------------
Embassy Approves Condolence Payments
------------------------------------

(C) 4. On October 18 and October 20 the Embassy sent a team
to the National Iraqi Assistance Center, a facility where
MNF-I collects claims paperwork from Iraqis injured in MNF-I
incidents, to collect applications from the Nisoor Square
incident. The Iraqi National Police previously provided the
Embassy with contact information of family members for 7 of
the 17 Iraqis killed and for 15 of the 27 injured, all of
whom were contacted. So far the Embassy has received

paperwork for 15 claims, including one claim form that was
previously submitted to MNF-I.

(C) 5. On October 21 the Embassy Claims and Condolence
Committee, chaired by the DCM, reviewed the claims submitted.
The Embassy's claims and condolence program is modeled after
MNC-I's, which typically provides up to $2,500 per incident
(death, injury or property damage) but which permits payments
of up to $10,000 per incident in extraordinary
circumstances, if approved by the MNC-I Division Commanding
General. Consistent with military practice and with the
Ambassador's approval, the Committee agreed to make payments
of $10,000 to the family members of those killed, $5,000 to
those injured, and $2,500 for each instance of property
damage. The Committee agreed to arrange a forum for payment
to the 15 claimants who have already filed paperwork, to
expedite this payment, and to work with the GOI to contact
the remaining potential claimants. The Embassy believes that
Blackwater should also make its own payments in this
incident, and requests the Department's assistance in
conveying this message.

--------------------------------------------- --
Preparing for the next Joint Commission Meeting
--------------------------------------------- --

(C) 6. As agreed at the first Joint Commission Meeting on
October 7 (Ref A), the Embassy is working with the Department
to decide what information regarding the Nisoor Square and
other PSD incidents can be shared with the Commission. The
Embassy Legal Advisor is developing a work plan for the
Commission, which, after consultation with our Iraq working
level counterparts, we plan to introduce at the next meeting.
The goal of this plan is to have each of the Joint
Commission's meetings focus on one of the major themes of the
report that the Commission will ultimately issue.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Investigation and Regional Security Office Update
--------------------------------------------- ----

(C) 7. The FBI continues its investigation with support from
the Regional Security Officer (RSO) as needed. The RSO is
implementing changes to its operating procedures. Diplomatic
Security (DS) agents are now in charge of and accompanying
all Chief of Mission (COM) motorcade movements in Baghdad
outside of the IZ and to the extent possible in the rest of
Iraq. An increased staffing pattern to sustain this larger
workload has been approved by Post Management and has been
submitted to the Department. DS is in the process of
procuring video systems for all PSD vehicles and
communications recording equipment for the Tactical
Operations Center. The RSO is also taking technological steps
to improve the mutual awareness of RSO and MNC-I elements in
the field, and is procuring radios that will allow tactical
communications between RSO air and ground assets and MNC-I
assets.

(C) 8. The RSO is also forming an investigative response unit
that will potentially include MNF-I and GOI representatives,
to investigate all incidents involving COM security assets,
including statistical analysis and metrics of PSD incidents
and systematic collection and archiving of recorded video
footage and radio communications. Additionally, the RSO is
reviewing the viability of alternative non-lethal escalation
of force procedures.

(C) 9. The RSO is working to improve linkages to the GOI for
the general sharing of information and investigation of
specific PSD incidents. The RSO will be participating
regularly in the GOI/USG Crisis Action Cell, which is a
weekly meeting between senior U.S. military officials, the
Minister of Defense, and the National Security Advisor where
PSD incidents are often raised. The RSO is scheduled to meet
with the Chiefs of the Iraqi Police and the National Police
in an effort to develop closer working-level relationships.

--------------
Media Coverage
--------------

(C) 10. The Nisoor Square incident and private security
contractors in general have continued to receive negative
coverage and have served as rallying points for Iraqi
politicians and government officials (both those in power and
in the opposition). Coverage of the establishment of the
Joint Commission stemmed mostly from U.S. Government
statements about it. Coverage of GOI statements included
those of Al-Dabbagh on October 7 saying that the Iraqi
investigation found Blackwater responsible for "deliberate
murder". Other reports focused on the GOI's call for
Blackwater to pay a total of $136 million for the incident
and comparing it to the Lockerbie bombing. An October 9

incident involving Unity Resources Group (URG), the PSD of a
USAID contractor, in which two Iraqi women were killed, was
reported as a "Blackwater-type massacre".

(C) 11. Newspaper and other coverage waned due to the Eid
al-Fitr holiday, but Blackwater returned to the press once
the news cycle resumed, with reports focusing on the Prime
Minister's advisor Sami al-Askri who said "the Iraqi
government has a clear position regarding the future of
Blackwater in Iraq. The security firm should be expelled
within six months." Editorials in all of Iraq's newspapers
have lashed out at Blackwater, likening it to another militia
contributing to the deterioration of Iraq's security.
Numerous editorial cartoons have been published depicting
Blackwater as bloodthirsty mercenaries. While the escalation
of the Turkish border issue has been dominating the media,
the Blackwater incident will likely remain a prominent issue
for editorials and political cartoons as the unpopularity of
private security firms makes it an easy target.
CROCKER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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