BAGHDAD — Private security contractors have been involved in scores of shootings in Iraq, but none have been prosecuted despite findings in at least one fatal case that the men had not followed proper procedures, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.
Instead, security contractors suspected of reckless behavior are sent home, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. officials, raising questions about accountability and stirring fierce resentment among Iraqis.
Thousands of the heavily armed private guards are in Iraq, under contract with the U.S. government and private companies. The conduct of such security personnel has been one of the most controversial issues in the reconstruction of Iraq. Last week, a British newspaper publicized a so-called trophy video that appears to show private contractors in Iraq firing at civilian vehicles as an Elvis song plays in the background.
The contractors function in a legal gray area. Under an order issued by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority that administered Iraq until June 2004, contractors suspected of wrongdoing are to be prosecuted in their home countries. The contractors have immunity from Iraqi courts and have so far not faced American prosecution, giving little recourse to Iraqis seeking justice for wrongful shootings.
Can we acknowledge that there are at least a few people in Iraq who have good reason to be a wee bit annoyed at the American presence?