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Contractor involved in Iraq shooting got job in Kuwait

  • Story Highlights
  • Former Blackwater employee allegedly killed Iraqi guard
  • Andrew Moonen rehired by another private contractor less than two months later
  • House votes 389-30 to bring private military contractors overseas under U.S. law
  • White House says measure would have "intolerable consequences"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Blackwater USA employee who was fired after he allegedly shot and killed an Iraqi security guard on Christmas Eve last year was hired by another private contractor to work in the region less than two months later.

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Congress has been taking a closer look at the government's use of private security contractors.

Andrew J. Moonen returned to the United States within a few days of the incident, his attorney said, but in February he returned to Kuwait, working for Defense Department contractor Combat Support Associates (CSA), a company spokesman said.

Mooney worked for CSA from February to August of this year, spokesman Paul Gennaro said.

Because the State Department and Blackwater kept the incident quiet and out of Moonen's personnel records, CSA was unaware of the December incident when it hired Moonen.

According to Moonen's personnel record, the U.S. Army tried to call him back to service in April 2007, but canceled the request when they were notified he was overseas.

Moonen, 27, had served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division from April 2002 to April 2005 before joining Blackwater.

Moonen is accused of fatally shooting an Iraqi guard who was on duty near the Iraqi prime minister's compound, according to a Congressional memo describing the investigation report. The guard was struck three times and Moonen fled the scene, according to the memo.

Moonen had been at a Christmas Eve party in Baghdad's Green Zone, the memo said. Witnesses said he was drunk.

According to the report, Moonen went to the guard post of another contracting firm, Triple Canopy, and said he'd been in a gunfight with Iraqis. He said they were chasing him and firing at him, but a report by Triple Canopy says its guards had not heard gunfire.

Moonen's attorney did not dispute the version of events as laid out in the Congressional memo.

Moonen's case was discussed at length at a hearing on Capitol Hill this week, during which State Department officials conceded the Justice Department was still trying to determine whether they had jurisdiction to prosecute Moonen.

Moonen was fined, fired and flown home from Iraq, and the company later paid $20,000 in compensation to the victim's family.

His identity had been kept private by government authorities and Blackwater, but the New York Times disclosed his name in a morning report Thursday.

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince testified Tuesday before Congress' House Oversight Committee that after the Christmas Eve incident, Moonen was fired for "violating alcohol and firearm policy."

"We fired him. We fined him. But we, as a private organization, can't do any more," Prince told the committee. "We can't flog him. We can't incarcerate him. That's up to the Justice Department. We are not empowered to enforce U.S. law."

Prince also said he'd be happy to see further investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department.

The House of Representatives, breaking with the Bush administration, voted overwhelmingly Thursday to bring private military contractors overseas like Moonen under U.S. jurisdiction.

The bill would put contractors working for the U.S. government overseas under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows American courts to prosecute crimes committed overseas in war zones.

The 389-30 vote followed a warning from the White House that the measure would have "unintended and intolerable consequences" for national security. But its sponsor, Rep. David Price, D-North Carolina, said the bill would hold contractors "working in our name and on our dime" accountable for misconduct.

"If we can't ensure the rule of law for our own personnel, how can we credibly ask other countries like Iraq to uphold the rule of law when their own citizens commit crimes?" he asked on the House floor Wednesday.

Price said the bill would clear up questions such as those raised by last month's Baghdad shootings involving contractors from Blackwater.

Blackwater said its guards responded properly to an attack on a U.S. Embassy convoy September 16. But Iraqi authorities said Blackwater contractors fired indiscriminately at civilians, killing as many as 20 at two scenes in western Baghdad.

But Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, said the bill could interfere with intelligence-gathering and expose "clandestine assets" to prosecutions that could expose ongoing operations.

"The majority, in its haste to score political points, has ignored the intelligence community's concerns about the bill," he said.

Prince has said his company supports Price's bill.

Under an order laid down by the U.S. occupation government in Iraq, U.S. contractors can't be prosecuted under Iraqi law. Prince said he thinks that rule should stand.

"I'm not sure any foreigner would get a fair trial in Iraq right now," he said. "I think they'd at least get a fair trial here in the United States." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Justine Redman and Mike Mount contributed to this story.

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