This is what happens when you show weakness. Corrupt thugs in the Iraqi government try to remove the force that protects our top officials and contractors. Given how weak Bush is, he will probably go along with this. A proper response would be to tell the Iraqi government to shut up and maybe arrest a couple of top officials and send them to Abu Gharaib. ******************************* Iraqis revoke license of U.S. security company The Associated Press Monday, September 17, 2007 BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government said Monday that it had revoked the license of Blackwater USA, a private security company that provides protection for top U.S. officials in Iraq, after a shooting involving an American diplomatic convoy killed eight Iraqis. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said the authorities had canceled the company's license and barred its activity across Iraq. He said that the government would prosecute the deaths, though according to the rules that govern private contractors here, it did not appear that the Iraqis had the legal authority to do so. The incident took place in Baghdad on Sunday, but the details were still fuzzy, and American officials could not say whether the Blackwater guards in the diplomatic motorcade had caused any of the deaths. Bombs were going off in the area at the time. "There was a firefight," said Sean McCormack, State Department spokesman. "We believe some innocent life was lost. Nobody wants to see that. But I can't tell you who was responsible for that." Khalaf said eight civilians had been killed and 13 had been wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. The shootings were believed to have followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade. Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area, said: "We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes." The incident struck a nerve with Iraqis, who say that private security firms are quick to shoot and not held responsible for their actions. A law drawn up by the American authority in Iraq in 2004 gives the firms immunity from Iraqi law. Senior officials, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, expressed anger. "This is a big crime that we can't stay silent before," said Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, in remarks on al-Arabiya television. "Anyone who wants to have good relations with Iraq has to respect Iraqis. We apply the law and are committed to it," Bolani said. Still, Blackwater guards provide security for some of America's most important officials in Iraq, including the ambassador. It was not clear on Monday whether the United States would agree to end a relationship with a trusted protector so quickly. "This incident will be the true test of diplomacy between the State Department and the government of Iraq," said one American official in Baghdad. The official said he believed the contract had been pulled, although McCormack said the State Department had not been informed that the contract had been cancelled. Legally, the Iraqi government has the power to revoke the company's registration, as private security contractors must be registered with the Interior Ministry and the Trade Ministry. It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater was intended to be temporary or permanent. In an attempt to defuse the situation, McCormack said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned to call Maliki to express regret and assure him that the United States had launched an investigation. Blackwater, based in Moyock, North Carolina, provides security for many U.S. civilian operations in the country. The company, run by a former Navy SEAL, has an estimated 1,000 employees in Iraq and at least $800 million in government contracts. The action Monday against Blackwater would probably bolster the unpopular government, given Iraqis' dislike of the contractors. Many of the contractors have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution. In 2004, four Blackwater contractors were dragged through the streets and hung on lampposts in the western city of Falluja. The assault that followed - an unsuccessful military campaign in Falluja in which an estimated 27 U.S. marines were killed, along with an unknown number of civilians - was retaliation for those killings.