Report: Hundreds of private contractors detained in Iraq

The crackdown by the Iraqi government prompted a U.S. trade group, the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), to send a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for asking for help with the detentions.

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The Iraqi government gained its sovereignty last month after the last U.S. troops withdrew from the country. The United States had considered keeping troops in the country beyond December, but was unable in part because Iraq would not agree to grant U.S. soldiers immunity from Iraqi courts.

Iraq's government has been hampered by infighting between Sunni and Shiite leaders since the U.S. military left, and many are worried that sectarian fighting will flare up again.  

The U.S. currently has an embassy in Baghdad with more than 15,000 people in it. The embassy is mostly secured by private contractors now that U.S. troops have left the country.

Doug Brooks, chairman of the ISOA, told the Times that the roots of the detentions are more about political infighting within Iraq than hostility toward the United States.

Contractors, however, have a poor reputation in Iraq, where groups like Blackwater, now known as Academi, came under fire during the Iraq War for incidents where Iraqi civilians were killed.