VIET NOW: The Eyes Of Condoleezza Rice

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 — The State Department official responsible for overseeing Blackwater USA and other private security contractors in Iraq resigned abruptly today.

Richard J. Griffin, who has been the director of the department’s diplomatic security bureau since June 2005, faced stiff criticism from Congress over his handling of a Sept. 16 shooting episode involving Blackwater that left 17 Iraqis dead and other acts of violence by the State Department’s security guards.

A special panel appointed to investigate the handling of diplomatic security in Iraq found a glaring lack of oversight and accountability that was hindering the American diplomatic and military mission there. The F.B.I. and a joint American-Iraqi board are also investigating the Sept. 16 shooting and the operations of armed private guards in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quickly accepted Mr. Griffin’s resignation, which is effective Nov. 1. “Secretary Rice is grateful to Ambassador Griffin for his record of long exemplary service to the nation,” said Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman. [via NEW YORK TIMES]

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