Romney, Advised By Blackwater’s Vice Chairman, Stays Silent On Blackwater Shootings

coferblack.gif Several presidential candidates have spoken out in support of tighter regulations governing private security contractors in Iraq after the recent shooting involving Blackwater USA.

Former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has remained silent though. Not only has his campaign not issued a statement, but as the Politico reports, it has refused to even answer any questions:

Romney’s campaign has declined to answer specific questions posed by Politico about issues central to the debate — issues now being hashed out by Congress, the State Department and the Iraqi government. […]

After the shooting, though, a Romney spokesman would not say whether Black has advised Romney on the use of security contractors in Iraq. Nor would he elaborate on Black’s role in the campaign or answer specific questions about whether the U.S.’s level of oversight over security contractors is adequate.

Romney has a clear interest not condemning Blackwater. Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater, currently serves as a Senior Adviser for counterterrorism and national security issues on the Romney campaign. From the April press release announcing that Black would be joining the campaign:

“I am pleased to welcome Cofer Black to our campaign. He has a long and impressive career dedicated to making America safer and more secure in the world,” said Governor Romney. “Our country faces a new generation of challenges and Black’s experience at the forefront of our nation’s counterterrorism efforts will be a tremendous asset.”

The recent incident was not the first violent episode that involved Blackwater in Iraq. Iraqi officials are now investigating “allegations about the security firm’s involvement in six other violent episodes this year that left at least 10 Iraqis dead.” The day before the Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist, L. Paul Bremer, then the chief American envoy in Iraq, issued an order that “granted American private security contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.”

Black previously served as the CIA’s chief of counterrorism. In 2001, he infamously ordered an agent to “Capture Bin Laden, kill him and bring his head back in a box on dry ice.”

UPDATE: Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has more.