Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: major scandal breaks out and internal documents, obtained through FOIA requests, shows that the agency involved knew of the problems years earlier. This is proving true once again in the Blackwater scandal. ABC News reports:
Internal State Department e-mails, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, show top officials were extensively briefed about repeated incidents of Blackwater security guards killing innocent civilians more than two years ago.
The emails also show that the State Department was already aware of the problem of the Blackwater contractors not being under any clear legal jurisdiction:
Other e-mails reveal how State Department officials in Washington maneuvered to stonewall inquiries by a reporter for the Los Angeles Times about a Blackwater incident in 2005 near the ABC News headquarters in Baghdad.
Some Diplomatic Security officials in Baghdad wanted the case of Blackwater guards outside the ABC News offices referred for criminal prosecution, officials tell ABCNews.com.
But the officials say State Department legal advisers told them “it was not feasible.”
According to another internal e-mail, the legal jurisdiction was “hazy.” The only recourse in cases of wrongful deaths is “dismissal.”
And what did the administration do about it? Not a damn thing. But now Condoleeza Rice says they want Congress to pass legislation putting the private contractors under a clear legal jurisdiction. Of course, the Bush administration could have done that themselves years ago but chose not to. Keep on passing that buck.