Wednesday, October 24, 2007

State Department review panel keeps open mind

A State Department panel to review the use of private security contractors has faulted the department for poor coordination and oversight, but reached no conclusion about Blackwater.

AP reports that the panel is keeping all options open, pending the conclusion of an FBI review. Once the FBI report is completed, the US Embassy in Baghdad, in the words of the panel, should assess "whether the continued services of the contractor involved is consistent with the accomplishment of the overall mission in Iraq."

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice has already ordered some interim changes in how the private diplomatic security service contractors are administered and overseen. Blackwater had requested at least one of those changes in 2005, but State Department lawyers denied the request.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to come up with additional changes to ensure that Blackwater's aggressive security services for the State Department do not conflict with the softer counterinsurgency efforts instituted earlier this year by Gen. David Petraeus.

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