WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered new security procedures today for American diplomatic convoys in Iraq amid continuing repercussions over the shooting of Iraqi civilians by employees of the Blackwater USA security company.
She ordered that special agents from the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security now ride with Blackwater security details; the bureau more closely review incidents like the recent shooting, and the convoys communicate with American military units operating in the same area.
Ms. Rice acted a day after the House of Representatives voted to bring all United States government contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law.
The State Department did not say if its initial assessment of Blackwater operations had found fault with the security company or with State Department personnel working closely with Blackwater in Iraq. Rather, the actions announced today are intended "to improve operational accountability and control," Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman said.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security will begin to record radio transmissions from security convoys instead of just monitoring them, Mr. McCormack said. It will also mount video cameras in security vehicles and "begin archiving electronic tracking of movement data," he said.
Mr. McCormack said the steps were ordered because Secretary Rice "wants to make sure there is a management feedback loop." Despite his careful language, the steps announced today were an unmistakable signal that high State Department officials were disturbed by recent incidents involving Blackwater that left Iraqis dead under murky circumstances.
With Blackwater and other private contractors in Iraq facing tighter scrutiny, the House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would bring all United States government contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law. The measure would require the F.B.I. to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing.