Remember all the talk about “an independent Iraq”? And remember President Bush’s assurances that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is “the right man at the right time for the right job?”

Well, now’s the time to put words into action.

After completing its own investigation of a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad — which concluded that Blackwater guards, without provocation, opened fire at a crowded intersection and killed 17 innocent Iraqi citizens — al-Maliki has now asked the State Department, Blackwater’s boss, to throw Blackwater out of the country. Which could be a big problem for the Bush White House.

After all, it’s no secret that Blackwater’s billion-dollar contract in Iraq is all about politics. Erik Prince, its president, was a White House intern for Daddy Bush, and also interned for California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R). His father was one of the founders of the Family Research Council. His sister’s married to Dick Devos, the son of Amway’s founder. The two families are major league Republican fat cats — and top donors to George W. Bush.

In other words, Blackwater’s just like Halliburton: profiteering from the war in Iraq because of White House connections.

So what happens now? Will we treat Iraq like the new, independent country we say it is — and fire Blackwater?

Or will we continue to treat Iraq like an American colony? Follow the money!