Blackwater personnel charged

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ColtCarbine, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Blackwater charges: 14 counts of manslaughter

    [​IMG] Blackwater Worldwide security guard Dustin Heard, left, arrives with his att...

    2 hours ago
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    WASHINGTON — Blackwater Worldwide security guards used machine guns and grenade launchers against unarmed Iraqi civilians, some who had their hands up, federal prosecutors said Monday in announcing manslaughter indictments against five guards.
    A sixth guard admitted in a plea deal to killing at least one Iraqi in the 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. Seventeen Iraqis were killed in the assault, which roiled U.S. diplomacy with Iraq and fueled anti-American sentiment abroad.
    The five guards surrendered Monday and were due to ask a federal judge for bail.
    "The tragic events in Nisoor Square on Sept. 16 of last year were shocking and a violation of basic human rights," FBI Assistant Director Joseph Persichini said.
    In addition to being charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, the five guards also face 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. They are also charged with using a machine gun to commit a crime of violence, a charge that carries a 30-year minimum sentence.
    The shooting unfolded in a crowded square, where prosecutors say civilians were going about their lives, running errands. The heavily armed Blackwater convoy sought to shut down the intersection following a car bombing elsewhere in the city.
    Witnesses said the contractors opened fire unprovoked. Women and children were among the victims and the shooting left the square littered with blown-out cars.
    "At least 34 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed or injured without justification or provocation by these Blackwater security guards," national security prosecutor Pat Rowan said.
    Blackwater, the largest security contractor in Iraq, says its guards were ambushed by insurgents while responding to a car bombing.
    "We think it's pure and simple a case of self-defense," Paul Cassell, a Utah attorney on the defense team, said Monday as the guards were being booked. "Tragically people did die."
    Though the case has already been assigned to U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina in Washington, the guards surrendered in Utah. They want the case moved there, where they would presumably find a more conservative jury pool and one more likely to support the Iraq war.
    The indicted guards are Donald Ball, a former Marine from West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn.; and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas.
    The sixth guard was identified as Jeremy Ridgeway, who is from California. His sentencing in connection with his plea in the case has not yet been scheduled.
    An afternoon court hearing was scheduled on whether to release the guards. Defense attorneys were filing court documents challenging the Justice Department's authority to prosecute the case. The law is murky on whether contractors can be charged in U.S. courts for crimes committed overseas.
    The shootings strained relations between the Washington and Baghdad. The fledgling Iraqi government wanted Blackwater, which protects U.S. State Department personnel, expelled from the country. It also sought the right to prosecute the men in Iraqi courts.
    "The killers must pay for their crime against innocent civilians. Justice must be achieved so that we can have rest from the agony we are living in," said Khalid Ibrahim, a 40-year-old electrician who said his 78-year-old father, Ibrahim Abid, died in the shooting. "We know that the conviction of the people behind the shooting will not bring my father to life, but we will have peace in our minds and hearts."
    Defense attorneys accused the Justice Department of bowing to Iraqi pressure .
    "We are confident that any jury will see this for what it is: a politically motivated prosecution to appease the Iraqi government," said defense attorney Steven McCool, who represents Ball.
    Based in Moyock, N.C., Blackwater is the largest security contractor in Iraq and provides heavily armed guards for diplomats. Since last year's shooting, the company has been a flash point in the debate over how heavily the U.S. relies on contractors in war zones
    The company itself was not charged in the case.

    Associated Press writers Jennifer Dobner and Paul Foy in Salt Lake City and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad contributed to this report.
  2. BAT1

    BAT1 Cowboys know no fear

    It will interesting to watch the outcome of this one. Worst case scenario would be they are all called back to the US to help with crowd control.
    A man has got to know his limitations. Clint Eastwood.
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