The Associated Press has learned that the State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians.
As a result, it will likely be months before the United States
can bring criminal charges in the case that has infuriated the
A State Department spokesman did not have an immediate comment.
Both Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd and FBI spokesman Rich Kolko declined comment.
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell declined comment about the
U.S. investigation. Moyock-based Blackwater USA is the largest
private security firm protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Three senior law enforcement officials say all the Blackwater
bodyguards involved were given the legal protections. That's as
investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security seek to find
out what happened. The bureau is an arm of the State Department.