Iraq: Video Shows Blackwater Overreacted

Official: "On the tape, there was nobody shooting at the Blackwater guards."

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 1:02 PM

Sept. 23, 2007 — -- The shooting deaths of 11 Iraqis and wounding of 12 more, allegedly by private security contractors working for Blackwater USA, has become a case of "he says, she says" in Iraq.

Blackwater claims that the convoy of U.S. embassy officials they were escorting in western Baghdad came under attack, and they returned fire at insurgents.

The Iraqi government says Blackwater opened fire without provocation, shooting randomly at civilians in a state of uncontrolled panic. And now the Iraqis say they have a videotape, shot from a nearby police station, proving their version of the story is true.

"On the tape, there was nobody shooting at the Blackwater guards," said Gen. Hussein Kamal, Iraq's deputy minister of interior for intelligence, who has seen the videotape. "I believe they overreacted."

The Blackwater shootings have become a major source of friction between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to apologize after the Sept 16 incident, but Maliki is still furious, and on Sunday he said it was "a serious challenge to the sovereignty of Iraq," and, "cannot be accepted."

Maliki is due to meet President Bush at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, and Blackwater is likely to be one of their main topics of discussion.

There are 20,000 to 30,000 private security contractors in Iraq guarding the U.S. embassy and other civilian agencies. There have been numerous incidents of Iraqis being shot dead by these contractors, and the private forces are widely resented across the country for their often trigger-happy behavior.