Did the Blackwell Security Forces act accordingly?
The first pictures from the scene have been made public and from the initial look of things, Blackwell SF appear to have responded appropriately.
The destruction from the explosion indicates a scene that needed to be completely secured and deadly force would be necessary to control the enviroment if a potential threat were to be perceived.
Based on the accounts from the Blackwell SF, there was an ongoing threat to their safety as well as their package.
This was a well coordinated attack that did not include just the explosion. The mission appears to have been to kill the US official. The target was not random, it was timed and intentional with a backup plan being implemented when the bomb did not kill the intended target.
The Iraq Police may or may not have been actual police, as police uniforms have been distribued to terrorist entities within the region, additional even if they were police, that does not mean they were not involved. There is a possibility that they misconstrued the threat and thought the Blackwell SF were the enemy, however that is quite unlikely based on the vehicles they were traveling in.
This seems more to be another attempt to demonize the lower ranks in a continued effort to sway public opinion.
The still images, taken at 11:50 that morning, show the car bomb explosion near a financial compound in western Baghdad that precipitated the incident. A State Department official was visiting the compound when the bomb went off about 25 yards from the entrance. Immediately after the explosion, Blackwater is said to have called for reinforcements.
In later images, two convoys of Blackwater security forces are seen arriving at the compound ten minutes later to escort the official.
As the two convoys escorting a State Department motorcade leave at 12:05, the third vehicle in the second convoy was attacked, according to Blackwater’s version of events included in a sensitive but unclassified State Department report obtained by ABC News: “A white LN sedan had approached the motorcade at a high rate of speed from the south. The gunners [Blackwater forces] used hand and arm signals to stop the vehicle, then threw water bottles to get the driver’s attention. Local pedestrians also attempted to wave down the vehicle, but the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed. The gunners then engaged the vehicle with M4s [rifle] and later M240B [machine gun].”
The Blackwater account of the incident also describes the activities of Iraqi policemen (IPs) in the incident. “An IP then ran to the vehicle, peered inside, then began to push the vehicle towards the motorcade. The gunners then engaged the vehicle again, and the IP ran away.”
According to the account, Iraqi policemen started shooting from a shack and a tree line south of the convoys and an insurgent in civilian clothes started firing on the convoy from a dirt mound.
In sworn statements given to State Department investigators and obtained by ABC News, Blackwater guards provide detailed accounts of the incident. At least four of them reported firing their weapons at the white sedan which approached the convoy. “I turned and engaged the car with approximately 20 to 30 rounds from my M4 rifle. After I no longer felt the threat to my life, I turned back to cover my sector,” wrote one guard.
Blackwater guards also reported coming under fire from gunmen dressed in civilian clothes and Iraqi police. When one of the men in civilian clothes fired in a guard’s direction, he reported, “I fired one shot from my SR25 at the closest threat. He went down and did not fire anymore.”
One guard reported observing the driver of another white sedan pulling his vehicle into the convoy, prompting the guard to fire his weapon at the roof of the car. “The driver exited the vehicle and produced a small device in his hand and held it out in the direction of his vehicle. I perceived this device to be a trigger for an explosive device. Fearing for my life and the lives of my team members, I fired several well aimed rounds center mass at the threat.”
As the Blackwater vehicle injured in the attack was being towed away, one guard reported coming under fire from a red bus, returning fire and warning civilians to take cover. “As we were going over the curb, I noticed several civilians and I was motioning, and screaming that they get down and find cover.”
Included in the State Department report is a photo depicting the alleged damage to the Blackwater vehicle. “During the encounter numerous small arms rounds impacted the Command vehicle, including at least one round that ricocheted off of the ground and into the radiator, rendering the vehicle immobilized,” according to the report.
Blackwater’s account of the incident is very different from the description provided by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. According to the Iraqi account, Blackwater guards halted traffic and fired on a white sedan that failed to slow down as it approached their convoy. That car erupted in flames, killing the driver and a woman and Blackwater guards continued to fire their weapons as people fled the scene. According to the ministry, Blackwater guards killed a total of eleven people and wounded twelve.