Contractor Rules in Iraq: Fire Only 'Aimed Shots'

The Blackwater security guards accused of killing nine civilians in an Iraqi firefight are supposed to "fire only aimed shots," according to a copy of the USCENTCOM Rules of Engagement, obtained by the Blotter on

State Department officials refused to make the rules public today, saying they were "classified."

The copy of the rules, provided to by another private security company that operates in Iraq, is stamped "unclassified, 10 March, 2005."

"The rules are you are not supposed to spray and pray," said one security contractor, explaining that private guards are not allowed to open fire without an identified target.

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The Rules of Engagement make it clear, however, that nothing in them "limits your inherent right to take action necessary to defend yourself."

The incident involving the Blackwater guards occurred as a car bomb went off near a building where U.S. embassy personnel were being protected by Blackwater.

The rules allow the use of deadly force "in defense of persons as specified in your contract" but require "graduated force."

The USCENTCOM rules also require contractors to "fire with due regard for the safety of innocent bystanders."

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