I hurts so bad when you finally know just how
low, low, low, low, low, he'll go
Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing
--Baby Did a Bad Thing, Chris Isaak
The five Blackwater contract security guards who had been charged with killing 17 in a 2007 Baghdad shooting "incident" (the Nisour Square case) were acquitted of all charges last Thursday (Iraqis Angered as Blackwater Charges Dropped.)
On Thursday, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina threw out manslaughter and weapons charges against five Blackwater guards because he said prosecutors had violated the men’s rights by building the case based on sworn statements that had been given by the guards under the promise of immunity.
Of the decision, Spencer Ackerman wrote, "For all I know that was the right legal call. It was stunning to hear that the first U.S. agents to interview the Blackwater guards offered them immunity: not only were they from the State Department, not the Justice Department, but they were from the division of State that oversees the contract Blackwater held. Whether they intended to sabotage a prosecution is unknown, but that’s exactly what they effectively did."Legal technicalities like that, preventing justice from going forward, used to cause outrage in this country ... " (No Guilt on New Year's Morning, Blackwater edition.)
In the trial resulting in their conviction December '08, "prosecutors described a chaotic scene with guards firing assault rifles, machine guns and grenades at unarmed civilians in their cars and on the street. One man was shot in his chest 'while standing in the street with his hands up,' the government claims (Manslaughter Charges in Blackwater Case.)"
This brings to mind the provocation for the Falujah battles, when four Blackwater Worldwide employees were killed and their bodies hung like pieces of meat from a bridge. Bad stuff, but Blackwater employees are seen as being a little loose on the trigger finger in Fallujah before the battle was joined. The Baghdad incident did not occur in a vacuum.
IslamOnline.net expresses the region's general view of Blackwater, quoting reporter Jeremy Scahill's description of it as the "world's most powerful mercenary army". "Riding machine-gun mounted utility vehicles, Blackwater’s armed contractors have gained notoriety for shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later."
"'The world quaked [sic] because of this crime,' said Fareed Waleed Hasson, who was injured in the shooting. 'How have we lost our rights so quickly?'" We ask the same question of ourselves, Mr. Hasson.
Interesting to note that Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh received no such considerations of their rights when being ramrodded through the Federal court system. Rights abound for Blackwater killers but not for accused terrorists.
At the time of these killings, any Iraqi even suspected of anti-coalition forces activity was thrown into jail without the slightest nod to due process. These same suspects were tortured and held without any judicial oversight by either Iraqi or other tribunals. This is a mockery of the rule of law.
Ditto the dismissal of charges against the Blackwater contractors.