The Iraqi spokesman for security in Baghdad concedes that Blackwater USA is performing such an important mission that its withdrawal would leave a "security vacuum."
He cautions against those demanding that the North Carolina company's personnel be removed from his country.
"If we drive out this company immediately, there will be a security vacuum that would force us to pull troops out of the field to protect these institutes," spokesman Tahseen al-Sheikhly says in the Los Angeles Times. "That would cause a big imbalance in the security situation."
Times correspondent Alexandra Zavis reports from Baghdad paraphrased Sheikhly as saying, "Blackwater was one of the main companies protecting foreign embassies and said it was not feasible to expel the company."
Zavis adds, "Security contractors are a growing presence on the world's battlefields, performing functions that the military cannot or will not handle. In Iraq, there are scores of local and international companies protecting Iraqi government officials, foreign diplomats, humanitarian workers, journalists and others. They also guard embassies, reconstruction projects, military bases and supply convoys."