Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gates better than Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld would have denied any wrong was done.

Gates takes swipe at security contractors in Iraq

Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:03pm EDT
By Sue Pleming and Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday criticized security contractors in Iraq as Baghdad piled more pressure on the State Department to pull the Blackwater firm out of Iraq after deadly shootings last month.

Gates said the work of security contractors was sometimes at odds with the overall U.S. mission in Iraq and their activities must be better coordinated with U.S.-led forces.

"There have been instances where, to put it mildly, the Iraqis have been offended and not treated properly," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. "Those kinds of activities work at cross purposes to our larger mission in Iraq."

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Blackwater should be pulled out of Iraq and held accountable for its conduct in a Sept. 16 shooting incident that killed 17 people and has enraged Iraqis.

"We would like .... Blackwater to leave Iraq, this is at the end their position, this is the State Department position," Dabbagh told reporters at the White House .

"There is an anger, a great anger among the Iraqis against Blackwater. They should be kept accountable, this is what the Iraqi government needs. It is a crime what they did in Baghdad, we have declared it," he added.

But State Department spokesman Tom Casey said no final decision had been taken on Blackwater and the department was awaiting the outcome of several investigations, including a top-level review of security contractors.

"The position of the State Department is that we have an ongoing investigation and a senior level team looking at it. We have not made a decision. They have not yet made their recommendations to the Secretary," he said, referring to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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