Friday, January 1, 2010
This is a story we've been watching REAL CLOSE:
Judge Tosses Blackwater Case, cites Government Missteps
By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge dismissed all charges Thursday against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
Citing repeated government missteps, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed a case that had been steeped in international politics. The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad. The Iraqi government wanted the guards to face trial in Iraq and officials there said they would closely watch how the U.S. judicial system handled the case.
Urbina said the prosecutors ignored the advice of senior Justice Department officials and built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity. Urbina said that violated the guards' constitutional rights. He dismissed the government's explanations as "contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility."
This is a relief for the guys, and for every man on the ground out there, doing the job without military status and all the rights and benefits that go with that.
Whether the Blackwater crew was right or wrong, I don't think anybody around here would know one way or the other. What I do know is you can't armchair quarterback these guys from 8,000 miles away from the Combat Zone. Think about it - you stick a guy out there on the two-way firing range with a lawyer in his back pocket (ROE) but WITHOUT the protection of the Law of Land Warfare (Hague & Geneva Conventions) and then when he does what he has to do to stay alive on the most lethal battlefield in the history of the world, you throw the book at him? Eff that.
It might surprise the readership out there that I'm not an especially big fan of the Blackwater operation (now known as 'XE' of course) - and not just because they're the competition. Having said that, I harbor no ill will against them; they are Americans doing a thankless job under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I say Godspeed to all the BW operators, and ALL my fellow contractors out there; best wishes and good fortune in all you do, all day every day.
"Keep your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet sharp and scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning."
- Sean Linnane