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Panel: US must control security firms

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An independent panel is recommending that the U.S. government impose unified control over private security guards working for the U.S. in Iraq. Two people familiar with the report's findings tell The Associated Press the review panel has found poor communication between diplomats and military officials and too little oversight of contractors like Blackwater USA. The panel has privately told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the State Department risks another incident like the September 16th Blackwater shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians. The panel suggests closer management of the private army guarding diplomats in Iraq. But those familiar with the report say the panel has made no specific recommendations about what should happen to Blackwater. The September 16th killings outraged Iraqis and focused attention on the shadowy rules surrounding heavily armed private guards. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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