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Federal Judge Dismisses All Charges Against Blackwater Guards in 2007 Shootings of 17 Iraquis

Blackwater plainclothes contractors

Just a short time ago, Federal Judge Ricard Urbina dismissed all charges against five Blackwater contractors who opened fire in a crowded square in Bagdad on September 16, 2007.

From the BBC News service:

District Judge Ricardo Urbina said the US justice department had used evidence prosecutors were not supposed to have.

The five had all pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. A sixth guard admitted killing at least one Iraqi.

The killings, which took place in Nisoor Square, Baghdad, strained Iraq’s relationship with the US and raised questions about US contractors operating in war zones.

The disputed evidence consisted of statements the five men gave to State Department investigators shortly after the shootings.

Judge Urbina said prosecutors should not have used those statements in the case, and that the US government’s explanation for this was “unbelievable”.

The five guards were Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten and Paul Slough – all of whom are decorated military veterans.

As well as the 14 counts of manslaughter, they had faced 20 counts of attempted manslaughter and one count of using a machine gun to commit a crime of violence, a charge that carries a 30-year minimum sentence.

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative reporter who has done more than any other writer to reveal the activities of Blackwater (aka Xe) head Erik Prince and his mercenaries in their roles as contractors for the U.S. government. He is the author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. In October, 2007, Scahill appeared on Bill Moyers Journal to discuss the killings in Bagdad. You can listen to the interview here.

Here is Scahill’s blog post on today’s outrageous dismissal of the case against the five Blackwater guards.

A federal judge in Washington DC has given Erik Prince’s Blackwater mercenaries a huge New Year’s gift. Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed all charges against the five Blackwater operatives accused of gunning down 14 innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in September 2007. Judge Urbina’s order, issued late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve is a stunning blow for the Iraqi victims’ families and sends a clear message that US-funded mercenaries are above all systems of law—US and international.

In a memo defending his opinion, Urbina cited a similar rationale used in the dismissal of charges against Iran-Contra figure Oliver North—namely that the government violated the rights of the Blackwater men by using statements they made to investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting to build a case against the guards, which Urbina said qualified for “derivative use immunity.”

Scahill provides links to the decision a the Judge’s 90-page memo explaining it.

In this recent post, Scahill provides statistics for the government’s use of private contractors in Afghanistan alone. As of December 17, 2009, according to Scahill, there were “189,000 personnel on the ground in Afghanistan right now—and that number is quickly rising.” Other Blackwater employees are deployed in Iraq and have been used by the CIA in Pakistan. They are representing us and are being paid with our tax dollars.

I for one do not want these men representing me. I think it is disgraceful that Blackwater “contractors” are allowed to get away with committing murders in the name of the people of the United States of America.

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67 Responses

  1. Wasn’t a growing reliance on mercenaries one of the signs of the decline of the Roman Empire? :(

    • Yes, we’re pretty much on the downside of the American Empire, I’d say; but we’re probably going to do a lot more damage before the final collapse.

    • I said the same damn thing to my son when the Bush administration and now “Teh Precious” administration blatantly flaunted their use.

      The Romans made the same mistake with Hannibal! And we all know how that turned out for the Romans now don’t we?

  2. WOW!!!

    Ya know BB, I knew these “Murderers” would walk away from this unscathed. They are all probably partying with their boss right now!

    Bastards!

    I guess this is another example of he with the most money….WINS!!!!!!!

  3. Depressing way to ring in 2010.

  4. Seeing a picture of those goons less than two miles away from my home just gives me the friggin’ creeps.

    • Yeah Dak….I’ve heard all about them from people who saw them at work down there.

      Government sanctioned GOON SQUAD!

      • yes, I heard terrible stories from friends that are reporters from the Time Picayune that witnessed stuff … like them bringing bodies into big charity shot point blank in the forehead and watching the doctor write it down as ‘drowning’

    • Was that picture from NO? I couldn’t tell where it was taken. The idea that guys like that are patrolling U.S. cities should terrify all of us.

  5. The next time I hear that Iraqis or any other country wants our freedoms I think the barf bag will be necessary. So this is freedom” this is justice!

    • And people wonder why the Iraqis aren’t grateful.

      • Yes, just think of all the fun torture they’ve had at the hands of Americans.

      • Like they should be grateful their country was bombed back into the stone age…..

        Their fathers ( and I don’t mean the women hating,sadistic, Jihadist either ) blasted to a zillion pieces….

        Their children zapped into eternity by “Smart” bombs…

        Their daughters/mothers violated by some mentally whacked ” criminal masquerading as a soldier…

        Foriegn soldiers telling them what they can and can’t do in their own country.

        Having your front door smashed in by a bunch of goons in the middle of the night…

        .Feces and sewage seeping into your home..

        .
        Having to go to the market and having said woman/hating Jihadist blow the market to smithereens…..

        And to top it all off, having to dodge bullets from some whacked out, US sponsored mercenary goon’s bullets as you try to rebuild the country that was attacked on false information!

        What’s not to be grateful for? At least Saddam is gone!

      • Not just the Iraqi’s, the entire Middle East. It seems to be the “go to” place when we want to flex our muscles.

        Explain to them why the Middle Easterners who are fighting back are called “insurgents,” held in prisons we control, and will be tried in Federal Court here (if Obama can get that Illinois prison approved)….AND, we get to be 100% in charge of the charges, trials, and acquitals of the American sub-contractor troops, as well.

        Shouldn’t the Iraqi’s been able to arrest, detain, conduct the trials and punishments for these people?

        WHERE IS THE INTERNATIONAL COURT?? Why aren’t there charges being brought against any of these war criminals?

    • We decide what is freedom, what is justice. Too bad our judgment is so screwed up.

  6. There needs to be a sink Blackwater campaign.

    • The government is highly invested in these mercynaries. If the weren’t there, we’d have to have a draft. Now that would get some people moving.

      • Then you would see all these “Whole Food Obots” raising a stink wouldn’t you?

        Nothing like having to put their own ass on the line to get em motivated!

        • And, people sending our young men and women into war without the fear that their loved ones might have to serve. It’s all so easy when you’re above it all.

        • This makes my blood boil. We all know that it would take years to achieve any goal we set in Afghanistan. While we all know we can’t financial afford this war. We are becoming spiritual broken for a lack of mercy for our own people. We could gain the whole world and lose our own soul. (never was much of a biblical scholar)

        • I am all for reinstating the draft. I know there are plenty of arguments against, and I see their reasoning, believe me. But for me, it would function as a deterrent to “rah rah spectator” wars.

          Your views become very different when you realize it’s not a matter of just waving a banner and cheering for the team like it’s the goddamn super bowl. And I say that as someone who is unapologetically flag-waving patriotic with all the trappings – have cried at the national anthem.

          If it’s a necessary war (for none are “good”) then it is worth all our sons and daughters defending. If it’s not worth that, then we probably don’t need to do it.

          • I contend that it’s not worth that.

          • I agree. But the government know that as soon as they do that, there will be massive protests. They would rather spend our money on mercenaries. I think it’s completely immoral.

          • that’s why we need a draft. There would be massive protests. As there should be against untruth and violence.

          • Excellent points. I also think the American people are complacent because they don’t have to worry about their boys as long as they can keep them from enlisting.

            Put this in everyone’s house and the protests will be non-stop! It would need to be a draft that includes the daughters and NO EXEMPTIONS….not even for the congressional children.

      • I agree, but it would have to be a draft with no exceptions except for total disability–ie., the draftee couldn’t even sit a desk job. And I agree even though I protested the draft back in the day. The Vietnam War produced a whole generation of Ph.D.’s and MBA’s who could manage to hold on to their S-II deferments by whatever means necessary and sent a whole generation of poor boys without scholarships to die in the green hell or return irreparably broken.

        Never again.

        • It takes a long time for demonstrations to make a real change in the powers that be. Meanwhile, our citizens are dying. Should all serve? Probably so. That may put an end to war. But, for those who don’t believe that these wars are just, that’s asking a very high price.

          • It’s asking a very high price of everyone. That’ s the point. You can’t be an effective advocate if your position is that “everyone should suffer but me.”

            For the record, I don’t believe any war is just. I think some wars are necessary (WWII, eg.), but that doesn’t elevate them to the status of a moral good.

  7. I’ve never had any dealings with Blackwater, but did have some with Wackenhut waaaay back in the day (early 80’s). They were hired to provide security for the Savannah River Site (enriched plutonium facility i.e. “the bomb plant”) where my now-ex husband worked.

    They were, in a word, creepy. I knew a lot of the guys they hired after they arrived, and many of them were not the most stable characters. Ya know, the sort of mouthbreathing guys you grew up with who should never, ever, under any circumstances, be given a gun or authority? Yeah, Wackenhut hired them by the droves.

    They always gave me and ex-husband both the heebie jeebies, and that’s coming from someone who has zero problems with guns or “macho” guys. I’m very comfortable around troops, around that whole culture, have even been around some shadowy military intelligence types in my day. But these guys were something very different.

  8. Hillary said this at Georgetown:

    When injustice anywhere is ignored, justice everywhere is denied.

    Justice has been denied everywhere today.

  9. Did anyone expect anything different?

    The entire city of Al-Fallujah died to avenge four of these bastards. They’re dear to the C-in-C’s heart.

  10. Underwear bomber called his dad on the eve of his flight to Detroit. Father was so alarmed, he went to CIA station chief in Nigeria. Nothing was done.

    ABC News’ sources said that during Abdulmutallab’s final call, he told his father the call would be his last contact with the family. He said that the people he was with in Yemen were about to destroy his SIM card, rendering his phone unusable.

    A senior U.S. official briefed on the matter tells ABC News that the phone call prompted the father to contact Nigerian intelligence, fearing that his son might be planning a suicide mission in Yemen. The Nigerian officials brought Mutallab directly to the CIA station chief in Abuja Nov. 19.

    The next day the embassy sent out a thin report to U.S. embassies around the world warning Adbulmutallab may be associating with extremists in Yemen.

    The CIA official compiled two more robust reports following the meeting with the suspect’s father. One was sent back to CIA’s Langley, Va., the other remained in draft form in Nigeria and was not circulated until after the attempted attack on Christmas Day, according to a U.S. official.

  11. Happy New Year, Conflucians!

    I’ve appreciated all the posts downstairs, highlighting the obvious differences between hrc and O. Looks like you gave Ms. Zoe some food for thought.

    (this post …. I’d prefer to read tomorrow.)

    I wanted to say a quick hello, and good night, before Rico starts pouring. When the party music gets going, my browser tends to crash. See you in 2010!

  12. Obama during the campaign: Blackwater got a bad rap”

  13. Hypocrisy meter off the charts: B0bots rag on Rush for attacking Chelsea Clinton in his show…

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×7366991

  14. Happy New year all! I’m going to watch the Patti Smith film/documentary on PBS’s POV. I saw part of it last night and heard her excoriate Bush 2 during an Iraq war protest. Did my heart good.

  15. im hoping the 2010 will be better than 2009 becuse this past year really sucked

  16. Wanted to wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year and thank you for allowing me to feel as though I am one of the “Family” here at TC.

    Until we meet again in 2010, stay safe, don’t drink and drive and try to leave all this behind..if only for one night.

    now go out and………

  17. Feels weird saying it in such a depressing thread, but Happy New Years Eve everyone. Read y’all in 2010.

  18. Back during the primaries Hillary promised to end these mercenaries contracts while Obama said they got a bad rap. Then the Obots were all over the damn place saying she supported Blackwater while O was going to fix it and end the war.

    Unless I’m mistaken, didn’t Hillary introduce a bill in the Senate to do away with those contractors?

    The sad part of Blackwater is it’s not just former American troops in their employ. They employ South African mercenaries and any other scumbag who’ll come aboard. They are a recipe for disaster in an anti-insurgency campaign.

  19. There are no such things as a Bill of Rights in Afghanistan. It’s a lawless country and the Bushies liked it that way. That’s the way it was set up. It’s an experiment in laissez faire everything. You can get away with theft, rape, murder, pretty much everything. All you have to do is claim “derivative use immunity”. Blackwater is the US Army even if it’s not. Kind of odd that some hick kids from West Virginia can be thrown into jail for Abu Graib abuses but Eric Prince and his droogs have free reign and don’t even have to abide by the military codes of discipline.
    Must be sweet. I hope Al Franken follows up on this.

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