Of the many mercenary companies (private security contractors) operating in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the US military effort, Blackwater USA has always had a high profile. Their reputation for agressive tactics and an all to ready tendency to resort to firepower appears to now be catching up with them. On September 16th the company was involved in a high profile incident in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. The New York times is now reporting briefings against the company from both Bush administration and industry officials.
"The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department..."And, in a more general and welcome move, which may go some way towards decreasing the rate of civillian casualties,
"On Tuesday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England sent a three-page memorandum to senior Defense Department officials and top commanders around the world ordering them to ensure that contractors in the field were operating under rules of engagement consistent with the military’s."