Blackwater Releases Statement That Discredits AP Account

Earlier this week the AP reported that:

4 Americans in Copter Crash Shot in Head

Four of the five Americans killed when a U.S. security company’s helicopter crashed in a dangerous Sunni neighborhood in central Baghdad were shot execution style in the back the head, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.

A senior Iraqi military official said a machine gunner downed the helicopter, but a U.S. military official in Washington said there were no indications that the aircraft, owned by Blackwater USA, had been shot out of the sky. Two Sunni insurgent groups, separately, claimed responsibility for the crash.

In Washington, a U.S. defense official said four of the five killed were shot in the back of the head but did not know whether they were still alive when they were shot. The defense official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

A second helicopter also was struck, but there were no casualties among its crew, said the diplomatic official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to make statements.

Charles Johnson questioned the legitimacy of the AP report on the killing- execution style- of 4 contractors in Iraq, after he received an email about the incident.

Charles also pointed to the report at IraqSlogger by Dan Laguna, brother of one of the deceased Blackwater employees, Arthur Laguna (pictured below).

Dan was working with his brother in Baghdad when they were attacked by insurgents.
Dan’s tells the sad story of finding out that his brother was killed during the attack.

SITE Institute reported on Tuesday that a terrorist group in Baghdad, Ansar al-Sunnah, had photos of the ID cards of one of the Blackwater employees killed during the attack.
On Wednesday, SITE Institute reported that video was released by of the downed helicopter.

Blackwater released a generic statement on the loss of their colleages this week.

I was just mailed the news release by the U.S. EMBASSY – BAGHDAD on the Blackwater Helicopter incident:

News Release
For Immediate Release
January 24, 2007

STATEMENT BY U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ
ZALMAY KHALILZAD ON BLACKWATER HELICOPTER INCIDENT

The U.S. Embassy is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of five Blackwater security professionals who were killed Tuesday during an attack in Baghdad. These five American citizens were our colleagues and worked on behalf of the United States Government to protect American diplomats and missions in Iraq.

They were killed during an attack on a security detail in eastern Baghdad where two Embassy employees were attending a routine meeting. One individual was shot while flying in a helicopter trying to protect the building during the attack. The other four were in a second helicopter which crashed under heavy gunfire. Two other individuals were wounded in the attack. They were treated for their injuries and released on Tuesday. They represent the best of America, showing valor and courage in the work they did each day.

The United States condemns this attack. We vow to find those who committed these acts of murder and bring them to justice.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy and the entire American community in Iraq, we hope for the speedy recovery of the injured and our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those who were killed.

Notice there is no official word that anyone was shot in the head.
There is also official word that one of the casualties was from a second helicopter.
This doesn’t say much for the AP’s reporting.

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