President-elect Barack Obama will face the decision of whether or not to renew Blackwater Worldwide’s contract to provide security for the State Department in Iraq when it expires in the spring, but if a State Department advisory panel has anything to say about it, they will be in the market for a replacement.
The Associated Press is reporting that the panel will recommend that Blackwater’s contract not be renewed. This will leave the State Department scrambling for a replacement, if the recommendation is followed, but they might’ve had to do so at any rate, as an internal report suggests that there is a “real possibility” that Iraq would decline to renew the contractor’s license to continue operating in the country.
The State Department’s use of Blackwater is something of an embarrassment, with the contractor’s reputation fluctuating between controversial and downright infamous. Five of the company’s guards are currently on trial, charged in a 2007 massacre of Baghdad civilians.