WASHINGTON

Blackwater guards promised immunity

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

State Department officials declined to confirm or deny that immunity had been granted. One official – who refused to be quoted by name – said: “If, in fact, such a decision was made, it was done without any input or authorization from any senior State Department official in Washington.”

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C.

Fire that killed 7 started on deck

For the group of college buddies spending a late-season weekend at a friend’s beach house, the deck overlooking a canal was the center of their good times.

It was where they talked, listened to music and danced late into the night. But investigators fear the deck just two blocks from the beach may also have been the starting point of a fast-moving fire that killed seven people, including a group of high school friends who went off to college together.

“It sounded like they were having a good time. Unfortunately, the fire didn’t show any mercy,” said Terry Walden, whose 19-year-old daughter, Allison, died in the blaze. “They probably never woke up.”

The storm of fire and smoke – so daunting that firefighters radioed for backup before they even arrived at the scene – enveloped the home early Sunday, killing six students from the University of South Carolina and one from Clemson University. Six other South Carolina students in the house survived.

NEW YORK

Witness: FBI used mob to solve 1964 case

The FBI used mob muscle to solve the 1964 disappearance of three civil rights volunteers in Mississippi, a gangster’s ex-girlfriend testified yesterday, becoming the first witness to repeat in open court a story that has been underworld lore for years.

Linda Schiro said that her boyfriend, Mafia tough guy Gregory Scarpa Sr., was recruited by the FBI to help find the volunteers’ bodies. She said Scarpa later told her he put a gun in a Ku Klux Klansman’s mouth and forced him to reveal the whereabouts of the victims.

The FBI has never acknowledged that Scarpa, nicknamed “The Grim Reaper,” was involved in the case. The bureau did not immediately return a call for comment yesterday.

Hillary YouTube video attracts about 2 million hits

First came the Orwellian mash up YouTube video that portrayed Hillary Rodham Clinton as Big Brother. Then came a clip of her off-key rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Now, a stinging 13-minute video by a bitter Clinton foe is finding its own Internet audience.

The clip, a preview of a longer film by one-time Clinton donor Peter Paul, has scored more than 1.4 million hits on Google Video and about 350,000 on YouTube during the past week.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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