US Still Seeking Legal Immunity for Defense Contractors in Iraq Beyond 2012
Negotiations are ongoing, but granting immunity from Iraqi law to US security forces is highly unpopular in Iraq
by John Glaser, December 15, 2011

The Obama administration is continuing to pursue an agreement with the Iraqi government that would give U.S. defense contractors remaining there beyond 2012 immunity from Iraqi law.

While the approximately 17,000 diplomats and servicemembers working for the State Department are shielded by diplomatic immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law, the thousands of private contractors and mercenaries no longer have such protections, pursuant to the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement.

The Obama administration’s plan to keep thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq beyond the December 2011 deadline to withdraw fell through in October when the Iraqi government would not grant legal immunity to the troops.

Providing immunity from Iraqi law to any lingering security forces is highly unpopular in Iraq, especially after the 2007 Nisour Square massacre in which U.S. mercenary soldier from Blackwater Inc. murdered 17 Iraqi civilians. Coincidentally, Blackwater is trying to renew contracts to march back into Iraq under a new company name, “Academi.”

The effort to get legal protections for defense contractors is an example of the Obama administration’s refusal to put an end to the occupation and domination of Iraq. And it may be successful. “Neither side has closed the door at this point,” said OSC-I spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Hanson.