Maybe it's not just Blackwater after all

A private security firm is involved in the allegedly unjustified shooting of an Iraqi civilian, and this time it's not Blackwater.

Published November 12, 2007 2:17PM (EST)

Not two months after a shooting incident that shone a new, harsh light on the activities of the private security contractors who have become indispensable to U.S. efforts in Iraq, the New York Times reports that a guard with DynCorp International may have shot and killed an unarmed Iraqi without justification on Saturday.

The September shooting involved guards from Blackwater, the most prominent of the contractors. DynCorp was, until now, its mostly obscure rival. But given the details of what the Times reported, that obscurity may be a thing of the past. Among other things, the Times says that three witnesses to this latest shooting claim there was no reason for it.

The shooting coincides with the arrival of a U.S. team tasked with looking at the issues posed by the presence of security contractors, who have become controversial at least partially because while the U.S. military needs to be careful about winning "hearts and minds," the contractors have only the safety of their charges in mind. One of the issues that will no doubt come up with the renewed attention on the companies is the question of legal immunity for contractors. The Iraqi government has taken initial steps to revoke immunity granted the contractors during the reign of the Coalition Provisional Authority, but there's been no definitive action yet.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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