In a big victory for Blackwater, federal prosecutors have narrowed their wrongdoing probe to only 3 guards involved in the September 16 shootout at Baghdad's Nisoor Square.
The Associated Press reports, "two weeks into a federal grand jury investigation, people close to the case told AP that authorities have focused the number who could face charges to about three of the dozen or more guards on the security detail."
This is a sure sign that federal prosecutors do not believe that the company itself acted improperly, and that wrongdoing, if any, on September 16 was a very rare exception to the rule. Blackwater has provided more than 17,000 diplomatic security missions successfully in Iraq since 2004. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker - one of the nation's most respected career ambassadors - has strongly stood by Blackwater and its practices that are credited with saving the lives of American diplomats and others.
Being the subject of a criminal investigation does not, under US law and custom, mean that the individuals are guilty.
But the small number of guards expected to be prosecuted also indicates that the federal grand jury does not believe the line from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) that the security providers as a whole shot indiscriminately or without provocation that day. The MOI controls the country's national police. Evidence backs up Blackwater's original reports that the diplomatic convoy under the company's protection was indeed fired upon at Nisoor Square on that day.