Apparently the Iraqi government has a Blackwater incident on tape. And there are allegations of other incidents as well.

Khalaf also said the ministry was looking into six other fatal shootings involving the Moyock, N.C.-based company in which 10 Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded. Among the shootings was one Feb. 7 outside Iraqi state television in Baghdad that killed three building guards.

“These six cases will support the case against Blackwater, because they show that it has a criminal record,” Khalaf said.

Khalaf said the report was “sent to the judiciary” although he would not specify whether that amounted to filing of criminal charges. Under Iraqi law, an investigating judge reviews criminal complaints and decides whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

So, exactly when did the media concede the exchange of the term “contractor” for “mercenary?”

But if you want to consider the upside, the government action against Blackwater does indicate that at least some elements of the government are independent. I’ll be curious to see how the administration plays this.

According to this blogger, where I got the above photo of Blackwater operatives, the “contractors” exceed the number of troops in Iraq. That seems incredible to me, but then we have no way of knowing for sure. Obviously we won’t have any statistics on their deaths, and probably not the harm they inflict. If you remember the Fallujah incident from a few years back, war supporters slammed anybody who asked whether they might have done anything to provoke such a reaction from the mob who lynched them. It seemed like “blaming the victim,” but there haven’t been comparable actions against regular soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Nation has a partial transcript of Jeremy Scahill’s testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. It begins as follows:

My name is Jeremy Scahill. I am an investigative reporter for The Nation magazine and the author of the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. I have spent the better part of the past several years researching the phenomenon of privatized warfare and the increasing involvement of the private sector in the support and waging of US wars. During the course of my investigations, I have interviewed scores of sources, filed many Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained government contracts and private company documents of firms operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. When asked, I have attempted to share the results of my investigations, including documents obtained through FOIA and other processes, with members of Congress and other journalists.

Update: Apparently, the Iraqi government has been pleading with ours to do something about Blackwater for some time. The US-drawn regulations don’t allow the Iraqi authorities to do anything about them. And they aren’t regulated by the US military system. They are literally above and outside the law. Can’t be touched.

Second Update: Meanwhile, Condoleeza Rice and the Iraqi president pretty much avoided each other at the UN.