Three senior law enforcement officials have revealed to the Associated Press that the State Department gave all of the Blackwater guards involved in the Sept. 16 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians immunity from prosecution.

The guarantee was made during the State Department’s own investigation, which was later taken over by the FBI. The government can still prosecute, in theory, but would have to prove that its evidence was not derived from statements Blackwater guards gave to the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.


AP via Yahoo:

FBI agents were returning to Washington late Monday from Baghdad, where they have been trying to collect evidence in the Sept. 16 embassy convoy shooting without using statements from Blackwater employees who were given immunity.

Three senior law enforcement officials said all the Blackwater bodyguards involved — both in the vehicle convoy and in at least two helicopters above — were given the legal protections as investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security sought to find out what happened. The bureau is an arm of the State Department.

The investigative misstep comes in the wake of already-strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.

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