Blackwater Shooting Echoes Through Iraq

logan contractor shoot pic
The first pictures to emerge from the scene of a deadly shooting involving U.S. security firm Blackwater two days ago in Baghdad show evidence of a massive firefight, but shed no light on the controversial sequence of events that led to the killing of at least 11 innocent Iraqi civilians.

Seperate U.S. and Iraqi investigations are currently under way, but as CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports, the Iraqi people and their Prime Minister seem to have found Blackwater's security contractors guilty of murder already:

"We will not tolerate the killing of our citizens in cold blood by a company which places no value on the lives of Iraqi citizens," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said at a press conference.

The U.S. believes the incident has put its own citizens in danger, banning its diplomats and civilians from traveling outside the heavily-guarded Green Zone in the center of Baghdad.

From the start, Blackwater has played a major role in securing U.S. interests in Iraq: guarding top diplomats like Paul Bremmer in 2003 to the current U.S. ambassador.

Now, the Iraqi government has ordered the company to stop working until the investigation is complete - a direct challenge to U.S. policymakers on the ground here who rely on Blackwater for their own security.

"That's going to severely hamper the ability of the diplomatic corps to move around, but again you got other companies that are well-placed to step in and fill that void," says former Blackwater vice president Jamie Smith.

There are incidents that explain why many Iraqis hate foreign security companies. For example, contractors from another firm filmed themselves shooting at Iraqi civilian vehicles and showcased the images on their Web site over an Elvis Presley soundtrack.

The perception in Iraq that they operate outside the law overshadows the very real danger that the contractors face.

There are conflicting reports over whether the convoy was attacked before the contractors opened fire, but whatever the truth turns out to be, the fact is that this incident has been a huge propaganda victory for America's enemies in Iraq.

  • Lara Logan

    Lara Logan's bold, award-winning reporting from war zones has earned her a prominent spot among the world's best foreign correspondents. Logan began contributing to 60 Minutes in 2005.