The U.S. State Department granted immunity from prosecution to Blackwater USA bodyguards involved in the September shootings that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. The immunity deal delayed a criminal inquiry into the events and will make it difficult to prosecute the security contractors for their actions in Iraq. “Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” a senior law enforcement official noted.
Nonetheless, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to some of the Blackwater bodyguards as part of a broad inquiry into the company’s practices in Iraq.
Moyock-based Blackwater’s annual $571 million security contract expires in May 2008. That contract probably will not be terminated, State Department officials have said anonymously, but it may not be renewed either. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has the final say on Blackwater’s fate.