Immunity Could Hurt Blackwater Prosecution

The State Department says limited immunity has been routinely offered to private security contractors.

But the State Department rejects concern that immunization given some security guards for North Carolina-based Blackwater USA jeopardizes the prosecution on charges they killed 17 civilians in a shooting in Baghdad last month.

Department spokesman Sean McCormack says it's up to Justice Department investigators to decide if they have a case. Blackwater
says the guards acted in self-defense.

The immunity deals have delayed the U.S. criminal inquiry into the shootings. Senior law enforcement officials say the legal protections Moyock-based Blackwater got from the State Department could derail any prosecution if investigators are unable to come up with additional evidence from the scene.