Friday, January 11, 2008

Blackwater 'shoots NY Times Mascot Dog in Baghdad'

While elsewhere in Baghdad, snowflakes are falling and astonishing the locals, the reputation of US contractor security is more like a snowball in hell - fading fast.

According to Reuters, the U.S. embassy in Iraq is investigating another deadly shooting incident involving its Blackwater bodyguards -- this time of the New York Times's dog, a hellhound named Hentish.

Staff at the newspaper's Baghdad bureau said Blackwater bodyguards shot Hentish dead last week before a visit by a U.S. diplomat to the Times compound. The K9 corps

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the dog had attacked one of Blackwater's bomb-sniffer dogs while a security team was sweeping the compound for explosives.

"The K-9 handler made several unsuccessful attempts to get the dog to retreat, including placing himself between the dogs. When those efforts failed, the K-9 handler unfortunately was forced to use a pistol to protect the company's K-9 and himself," she said in an e-mail to Reuters.

The U.S. embassy employs about 1,000 armed Blackwater staff to protect American diplomats in Baghdad.

The firm's role became a serious issue in Iraqi-U.S. relations when its guards opened fire on a Baghdad street in September, killing 17 people. Blackwater says its employees acted lawfully in that incident, which is under investigation.

State Department investigators have made two follow-up visits to the Times compound to investigate the shooting of Hentish, correspondent Alissa Rubin said.

"They were very solicitous and I thought took the incident very seriously," Rubin said. "It's not a dog that everyone's close to in the compound.

"But it's a dog that's been around a long time. It lived its whole life there."
And according to bloggers, it was inclined to sink its canines into the odd crotch...much like NY Times reporters that petted him.

(Reporting by Peter Graff; editing by Robert Woodward)

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