Even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended her department's oversight of private security contractors, new evidence surfaced Thursday that the U.S. sought to conceal details of Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.These communications show that State deliberately tried to minimize negative press about contracted mercenaries murdering Iraqi civilians. No state secrets privilege or national security interests can justify this kind of lawlessness and secrecy.
In one instance, internal e-mails show that State Department officials tried to deflect a 2005 Los Angeles Times inquiry into an alleged killing of an Iraqi civilian by Blackwater guards.
"Give [the Los Angeles Times] what we can and then dump the rest on Blackwater," one State Department official wrote to another in the e-mails, which were obtained by ABC News. "We can't win this one."
One department official taking part in a chain of e-mails noted that the "findings of the investigation are to remain off-limits to the reporter." Another recommended that there be no mention of the existence of a criminal investigation since such a reference would "raise questions and issues."