The Iraqi government is demanding $136,000,000 in cash from Blackwater USA on behalf of the families of those who were reportedly killed in the September 16 shooting incident near the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
We say "reportedly killed" because the number keeps changing, yet we hear there aren't enough bodies with proper autopsies that would match the numbers of casualties given. This isn't to minimize the seriousness of the deaths of civilians, but big questions remain about whether all the dead were indeed innocent or civilian. The Blackwater guards say that they were shot at by men in uniform, yet the Iraqi Interior Minister and witnesses insist that that was not the case. Photos of the aftermath of the incident show that a Blackwater vehicle was disabled by gunfire - physical evidence that contradicts the Interior Ministry's construct of a one-sided shootout.
The corrupt Iraqi administration apparently has upped its pre-September 16, having failed to extort "fees" from Blackwater previously. Reports say that Blackwater refused to pay bribes to the notoriously inept Interior Ministry.
A three-man team led by the defense minister has declared Blackwater guilty of "deliberate murder" in the September 16 incident, in a curiously-timed statement that coincided with the first meeting of an official US-Iraqi investigative team.
We'll wait for a real conclusion from real investigators, as there seems to be much more to this story than meets the eye.
The Shi'ite-dominated government - especially the Interior Ministry - has been posturing against Blackwater since the incident first occurred, with extremist Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr echoing a similar line. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki recently welcomed al-Sadr into his ruling coalition.
The US has been having more problems with some of the Shi'ites recently. General David Petraeus has singled out the Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad as being part of a clandestine Revolutionary Guard unit responsible for supporting insurgents that have killed American troops.
Could there be a link between the increased rhetoric of General Petraeus against Iran and its Iraqi allies, and the shrill anti-Blackwater rhetoric from top Iraqi officials?