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Blackwater, under scrutiny for Iraqi deaths, ramps up lobbying

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Blackwater Worldwide is ramping up its lobbying representation in Washington. The North Carolina-based private-security contractor protects U.S. government officials in Iraq. But the company has attracted considerable congressional scrutiny, as well as criticism from the Iraqi government and human rights groups for its involvement in several dozen shooting incidents, some involving the deaths of civilians. Now the company is tapping law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice to lobby the government on contracting and other issues. The information was posted online by the Senate's public records office. Womble Carlyle is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and it is the third lobbying firm to be hired by Blackwater since October. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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