FBI Opens Probe Into Blackwater

Now, Blackwater's communications now will be monitored, as probe continues.

ByABC News via via logo
February 12, 2009, 5:25 PM

Oct. 7, 2007 — -- The FBI will begin its investigation this week into the Sept. 16 shooting of 11 Iraqis by contractors for the security firm Blackwater USA, which was hired to protect U.S. State Department officials in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had been guarded about the company in the past, ordered cameras be mounted in Blackwater vehicles and that federal agents now oversee the private contractors.

Their radio communications also will be monitored for the company, which has been paid more than a billion dollars to protect American officials in Iraq.

But the changes may have come too late for Iraqis, who have complained for years about the aggressive tactics of private security details. Last month's incident brought a new level of scrutiny and public outrage.

In fact, the episode has sparked at least five investigations, but it remains unclear who has jurisdiction over the private contractors.

An official Iraqi investigation found Blackwater guards opened fire without coming under a threat. It also recommended the guard be tried in Iraqi courts and compensate the victims.

But on "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" Sunday, former Blackwater operative Kelly Capeheart said he doesn't believe the contractors should be tried by the Iraqis, but rather by the United States.

"They belong to us and they need to be over here being investigated," said Capeheart, who worked for Blackwater in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 protecting top American officials.

"These guys are taught not to fire first. Our entire job was to carry specific packages to specific places" without drawing fire, he said.

Statements by Blackwater guards involved in the incident said they came under attack and some of their attackers were wearing Iraqi police uniforms.

Capeheart, who joined the organization after completing a stint in the military, said he didn't believe U.S.-Iraqi relations are being harmed.

"I think they are helping," Capeheart said. "The relationships we have with the Iraqis when I was over there was very good."

But, the relationship with Iraqis isn't the only thing under the microscope. Some question how U.S. troops feel about contractors, because the contractors get paid much more than soldiers and seem to have fewer boundaries.

Capeheart shot down such criticism because he said many of the contractors used to be in the military.

"I didn't see any of that jealousy," he said of the relationship between soldiers and contractors. "We got along with them really well."

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