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Justice officials frustrated by probe of Blackwater smuggling

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bureaucracy appears to be slowing the criminal investigation into North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide. At the center of the problem is a struggle between the State and Justice departments. It's a battle between Bush administration officials over the probe into whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq that could have gotten into insurgents' hands. As a result, the investigation has been bogged down for months. In one instance, the State Department's top auditor wasn't happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss the Blackwater probe. Blackwater calls the smuggling allegations baseless. But earlier this year, two former Blackwater employees pleaded guilty to possession of stolen firearms that were shipped in interstate or foreign commerce. They are cooperating with federal agents. Blackwater said the two were fired after it was learned they were stealing from the company. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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