Exclusive: ABC News Obtains Text of Blackwater Immunity Deal

ABC News has learned details of an immunity deal given to Blackwater guards.

ByABC News
October 30, 2007, 1:46 PM

Oct. 30, 2007 — -- ABC News has learned the exact wording of the immunity deal the State Department granted Blackwater security guards involved in a September shooting incident that left 17 Iraqis dead.

The security guards were given a limited immunity called "use immunity" in exchange for giving sworn statements about their involvement in the Sept. 16 shooting incident.

The wording of the immunity is included at the beginning of the Blackwater guards' sworn statements, which have been obtained by ABC News.

In each of the statements, the guards begin by saying "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001."

The immunity deal was granted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting by State Department officials in Iraq who were under intense pressure to quickly explain what happened in the face of allegations by Iraqi officials that the contractors murdered civilians in cold blood.

News of the immunity deal caught State Department officials in Washington off guard.

"If anyone gave such immunity it was done so without consulting senior leadership at State," a senior State Department official initially told ABC News.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment directly on the immunity given to the security guards, but said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is determined to hold anybody guilty of wrongdoing accountable.

"Secretary Rice's attitude is that if there are individuals who broke rules, laws or regulations they must be held to account," McCormack told reporters. "Every action that she has taken during the course of the aftermath of this incident has been consistent with that approach."