Sunday, September 30, 2007

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An initial State Department report on a Sept. 16 shootout in Baghdad involving Blackwater USA says the private security contractors were "ambushed near the traffic circle and returned fire before fleeing the scene," a depiction of events that contradicts Iraqi findings. Separately, State has confirmed that Blackwater personnel have been involved in 56 shootings while guarding U.S. officials this past year.

The State Department has said that "the first American oil contract in Iraq," between the Hunt Oil Company and the Kurdistan Regional Government," is counterproductive towards the U.S. goal of "strengthening the country's central government."

"Fourteen "high-value" terrorism suspects who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons last year have been formally offered the right to request lawyers, a move that could allow them to join other detainees in challenging their status as enemy combatants in a U.S. appellate court."

"It's a lonely U.S. Senate for Larry Craig, whose uncertain status has upset his social and political standing in the clubby chamber." McClatchy newspapers observed Craig's interactions with his colleagues: "[He] mostly moved stiffly through their ranks without engaging much in the easy jocularity and bipartisan banter that go on throughout the day."

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