Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Not all shootings are reported by security firms

Guards in Iraq cite frequent shootings

Companies don't report all the incidents, U.S. officials say

NBC video
Private security contractor Blackwater under fire
Oct. 2: In Congress, the leader of the private security firm answered questions about an Iraq shooting incident. Jim Miklaszewski reports.
By Steve Fainaru
Updated: 5:02 a.m. PT Oct 3, 2007

WASHINGTON - Most of the more than 100 private security companies in Iraq open fire far more frequently than has been publicly acknowledged and rarely report such incidents to U.S. or Iraqi authorities, according to U.S. officials and current and former private security company employees.

Violence caused by private security guards in Iraq has come under scrutiny since a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad involving employees of Blackwater USA. The company's chairman, Erik Prince, told a congressional committee Tuesday that Blackwater guards opened fire on 195 occasions during more than 16,000 missions in Iraq since 2005.

However, two former Blackwater security guards said they believed employees fired more often than the company has disclosed. One, a former Blackwater guard who spent nearly three years in Iraq, said his 20-man team averaged "four or five" shootings a week, or several times the rate of 1.4 incidents a week reported by the company. The underreporting of shooting incidents was routine in Iraq, according to this former guard.


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