State Department Security Chief Forced Out Under Blackwater Cloud

The State Department's security chief has stepped down under pressure from the fallout of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqis by employees of North Carolina-based Blackwater USA.

Officials familiar with the departure say Richard Griffin's forced resignation came amid growing questions about the use of private contractors to protect diplomats in Iraq.

Griffin was the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. He made no mention of the furor in his resignation letter to President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But his decision to step down comes at a time when the department is facing Iraqi and congressional criticism for its security practices.

Rice accepted the resignation, effective November 1st.