US: State Dept. intercedes in Blackwater probe

by Peter Spiegel, LA Times
September 26th, 2007

The State Department has interceded in a congressional investigation of Blackwater USA, the private security firm accused of killing Iraqi civilians last week, ordering the company not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without approval from the Bush administration, according to documents revealed Tuesday.

In a letter sent to a senior Blackwater executive Thursday, a State Department contracting official ordered the company “to make no disclosure of the documents or information” about its work in Iraq without permission.

The letter and other documents were released Tuesday by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), whose House committee has launched wide-ranging investigations into contractor abuses and corruption in Iraq.

The State Department order and other steps it has taken to limit congressional access to information have set up a confrontation between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Waxman, who has repeatedly accused the State Department of impeding his inquiries.

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