U.S. to tighten control of security contractors in Iraq

By Xinhua

Washington : The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that it has stroke a deal with the Defense Department to increase control over private security contractors working in Iraq.

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State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the deal is centered on a new system designed to increase communication between State Department security agents, the U.S. military, Iraqi security forces and private contractors.

“What we have looked at is making sure there is a common understanding of how and when force, in particular deadly force, should be used by personal security contractors,” he said.

Casey said the new system includes a clear training standard for security contractors and an increase in the number of Arabic speakers going out with diplomatic convoys who can communicate with Iraqis.

The spokesman also said the department will soon install video and audio equipment in security vehicles to record radio transmissions and incidents that might occur when a convoy is moving.

Casey said the new deal will govern how future shooting incidents are investigated and how to hold accountable any contractors who violate the rules.

The move followed an incident last September in which guards from the U.S.-based Blackwater company providing security for a U.S. diplomatic convoy fired on Iraqi civilians, killing 17 people.

The shooting sparked outrage in Iraq and a joint working group was formed consisting of officials from the State and Defense Departments to review the rules of conduct for contractors.