View Full Version : Iraq 'expels Blackwater security employees'

David Guyatt
02-11-2010, 12:04 PM

Iraq 'expels Blackwater guards'


Iraq has ordered 250 former and current staff of US security firm Blackwater to leave within a week, a minister says.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told the Associated Press news agency that all "concerned parties" were notified of the order three days ago.

It comes after a US judge last December threw out manslaughter charges against five Blackwater guards over the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.

The incident stoked anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

The activities of foreign security firms in Iraq have been curbed since then.

US Vice-President Joe Biden has said the US government will appeal against the court ruling.

Mishandled evidence

"We want to turn the page. It was a painful experience, and we would like to go forward," Mr Bolani said.

Seventeen Iraqis were killed in the shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in September 2007.

Iraq maintains the Blackwater guards fired without provocation. Blackwater said the firing followed an ambush on one of its convoys.

The US had rejected attempts for a trial in Iraq but charges in the US were thrown out when a judge ruled in December that the guards' constitutional rights had been violated and that the justice department had mishandled evidence.

Last month, Mr Biden said during a visit to Iraq that the dismissal of the Blackwater charges was just that and "not an acquittal".

Expressing "personal regret" over the incident, he said the US justice department would file its appeal against the court's decision next week.

In 2007, Blackwater - now known as Xe Services - was the largest of the US State Department's private security contractors working in Iraq.

Myra Bronstein
02-11-2010, 06:58 PM
In parallel with this news we hear about Blackwat(X)er's massive defrauding of US taxpayers: double billing and charging for prostitutes:

And in parallel with that news we hear that Blackwat(X)er is up for a new $1 billion US contract To Train Afghan National Police:

I have no doubt they'll get it. I mean, why wouldn't they?

Magda Hassan
10-18-2013, 02:45 AM
Blackwater faces new charges in Iraq killings

Four former guards face new charges in the US for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisour Square that killed 17 civilians.
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2013 01:56

The United States has brought new manslaughter charges against four former Blackwater personnel for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisour Square that prosecutors say killed 17 unarmed civilians, including women and children.
Prosecutors say the heavily armed Blackwater convoy launched an unprovoked attack using sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers in the shooting that also wounded at least 20 people.
The shooting caused tension in US-Iraqi relations and raised concerns about the US government's use of private contractors, who were shielded from prosecution in Iraq.

The vast majority of the US contractors who served in Iraq did so with honour and integrity, but, as alleged today, these defendants abused their power through a relentless attack on unarmed civilians that recklessly exceeded any possible justification.
US Attorney Ron Machen, Chief Prosecutor

The original US charges filed against the men in 2008 were thrown out in December 2009, about a month before a scheduled trial.
The dismissal outraged many Iraqis, who said it showed Americans considered themselves above the law. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Baghdad in 2010, expressed his "personal regret" for the shootings and declared that the US would appeal the court decision.
The case ran into trouble because the State Department promised the guards that their statements explaining what happened would not be used in a criminal case.
The guards told investigators that they fired their weapons, a crucial admission because forensic evidence could not determine who fired.
Because of a limited immunity deal, prosecutors had to build their case without those statements, a high legal hurdle.
The case was reinstated in 2011 and prosecutors began a lengthy review of what charges they could prove in court.
The new indictment returned by a grand jury in Washington charges 33 counts, including voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and using a firearm in a crime of violence.
The men, Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard had pleaded not guilty to the nearly identical charges brought five years ago.
"We are disappointed that the Department of Justice has chosen to proceed with this prosecution, which we strongly believe has no merit whatsoever," Heard's attorney, Dave Schertler, said in a statement.
"The vast majority of the US contractors who served in Iraq did so with honour and integrity, but, as alleged today, these defendants abused their power through a relentless attack on unarmed civilians that recklessly exceeded any possible justification," US Attorney Ron Machen, the chief prosecutor in Washington, said in a statement.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for October 25. No trial date has been set, and a defence lawyer said at a hearing last month that a trial could be years away.
Prosecutors last month dropped their case against a fifth guard, Donald Ball.
They said they were exercising "prosecutorial discretion" based on their "assessment of the admissible evidence against him."
Blackwater is now named Academi and is based in McLean, Virginia.

Magda Hassan
10-18-2013, 02:49 AM
Justice Department Revives Case Against Former Blackwater Contractors Involved in Nisoor Square Massacre (http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/10/17/justice-department-revives-case-against-former-blackwater-contractors-involved-in-nisoor-square-massacre/)

By: Kevin Gosztola (http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/author/kgosztola/) Thursday October 17, 2013 6:06 pm

The United States Justice Department has brought new charges against four former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors for their role in a massacre that took place in 2007 in Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq.As reported (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_BLACKWATER_PROSECUTION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT) by the Associated Press, “Dustin Heard, a retired U.S. Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a retired U.S. Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former U.S. Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn., and Paul Slough, a U.S. Army veteran from Keller, Texas,” will each faces charges.
Heard and Liberty face 13 counts of “voluntary manslaughter” and 16 counts of “attempt to commit manslaughter.” Slatten faces 14 counts of “voluntary manslaughter” and 16 counts of “attempt to commit manslaughter.” Slough faces 13 counts of “voluntary manslaughter” and 18 counts of “attempt to commit manslaughter.”
Each former Blackwater employee was also charged with “one count of using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.”
AP additionally reported that the charges come under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which the media organization describes as “a statute that allows the government to prosecute certain government employees and contractors for crimes committed overseas.”
This breathes new life into a case that most probably thought the Justice Department had long abandoned.
Seventeen Iraqi civilians were killed in Nisoor Square. At least twenty were injured.
Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has described in detail what happened. Just after noon on September 16, 2007, a twenty-year old Iraqi medical student was in a white opal sedan with his mother. They pulled “into this intersection in the Mansour district of Baghdad into Nisoor Square, and at the same time that they’re arriving at this place, four heavily armored vehicles [were] driving allegedly down the wrong side of the road.” They shot the young student right through his head.
“According to the witnesses, including this individual, the shooting of this young Iraqi medical student and his mother really began a shooting —a series of shootings in the square,” Scahill said on “Democracy Now! (http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/10/17/justice-department-revives-case-against-former-blackwater-contractors-involved-in-nisoor-square-massacre/www.democracynow.org/2008/6/2/blackwater_jeremy_scahill_on)” “When the initial shots were fired, what happened was that this mother [was] sitting in the car and [saw] her son’s head essentially explode after being shot, and she [grabbed] onto him. And it was an automatic car, and so what may have happened is that the car continued to sort of veer toward the Blackwater men.”
Scahill added:

Blackwater operatives allegedly shot and fired at this woman as she was holding her son, and these cops were there, and they realized that she wasn’t getting out of the car. She was gripping her son’s body, shouting, “My son! My son! Help me!” And it became clear to the Iraqi police officers that more shots were going to come, and so they actually fled themselves, realizing that shooting was going to happen again. And so, the witnesses say that they continued shooting at this car, and it ultimately exploded, burning them inside.
One of the other victims who was killed was a nine-year-old boy named Ali, who was shot in his head, his brains splattering on his father. And his dad described — and I talk about this in the book — how he could still feel his son’s heart beating, and so he rushed to the hospital to try to save his son’s life. And he ultimately returned to the scene the next day to try to pick up pieces of his son’s skull to bury at the holy city — Iraqi holy city of Najaf.

Thus far, the Blackwater contractors believed to have been responsible for the massacre have avoided justice.
In 2008, three of the four men, who again face charges, were charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempted manslaughter and a weapons violation (along with Donald Ball). Then, just over a year later, the charges were dismissed when a US district court judge found that the case against the men had been improperly constructed because the State Department promised statements on what happened would not be used to prosecute them . A US federal appeals court then reinstated the charges against the men in April 2011.
When in June 2012 the Supreme Court refused to review (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/05/blackwater-guards-lose-appeal-iraq-shooting) this decision by the federal appeals court, the prosecution was able to move onward. About a month later (http://www.mercurynews.com/sunnyvale/ci_21154483/doj-seek-new-indictment-blackwater-shooting), the Justice Department indicated a new indictment would be brought against the men but no new indictment was issued that year.
The Justice Department declined to bring a case against Donald Ball, which AP indicates is a “retired Marine from West Valley City, Utah. Jeremy Ridgeway, who is a sixth guard involved in the shootings, has pled guilty to being involved already and awaits sentencing.
Ridgeway, who served as a turret gunner, according to a report by Ryan Devereaux, admitted in sworn statements that the contractors had “opened fire with automatic weapons and grenade launchers on unarmed civilians … killing at least fourteen people.” They were not authorized to leave the Green Zone. And, “none of these victims was an insurgent, and many were shot while inside of civilian vehicles that were attempting to flee.”
The New York Times reported (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/world/middleeast/11blackwater.html) in November 2009 that top executives had paid Iraqi officials about $1 million to “silence their criticism and buy their support” after the massacre.
On January 6, 2010, the US government settled a civil lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of victims who were injured and family members of those killed. The complaint (http://ccrjustice.org/files/10.28.09%20Plaintiffs'%20Second%20Amended%20Compla int.pdf)filed by CCR alleged that Slough was deeply hostile toward Iraqi civilians and had routinely thrown “water bottles and other items at unarmed civilians and vehicles without justification in an attempt to break automobile window, injure and harass people.”
Slatten, similarly, had allegedly wanted to kill “as many Iraqis as he could as ‘payback for 9/11,’” according to the complaint. He would boast about “the number of Iraqis he had shot.” He would instigate battles by firing his weapon and also throw water bottles and other items at civilians.
On May 23, 2007, the complaint alleged Liberty had fired an automatic weapon from a turret position of a Blackwater armored vehicle without regard for who the bullets may have hit. He later allegedly fired an automatic weapon from a Blackwater armored vehicle on September 9, 2007, and killed and seriously wounded innocent Iraqis. For those alleged murders, he faced a separate lawsuit.
Heard allegedly was hostile toward Iraqi civilians and admitted in the weeks after the massacre that he had not been “honest with State Department investigatiors who were investigating the shooting.”
These were the kind of men CCR claimed the firm’s founder, Erik Prince, had been looking for when he built up the private army he had contracted to defend diplomats in Iraq during the war and occupation.
Blackwater Worldwide is now Academi and was Xe Services LLC. It has gone through re-brandings after involvement in atrocities and allegations of criminal conduct by its employees. Prince also no longer runs the business.
In addition to the Nisoor Square massacre, Blackwater Worldwide employees have been found to have been involved in weapons smuggling but, as I wrote about (http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/02/22/increasingly-venal-justice-department-gives-ex-blackwater-executives-gentle-sentence/) in February, the Justice Department threw that case and two former executives avoided harsh punishment after pleading guilty to a minor count of “failing to make and maintain records related to firearms.”
Individuals implicated in the case involving weapons smuggling were people who had encouraged and conspired to cover up criminal and murderous acts. They were people known to have habitually committed crimes because it is the nature of the company’s mercenary operations. However, the Justice Department overlooked all of that and allowed Blackwater to greymail them in court and threaten to suggest this weapons smuggling had taken place under the direction (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/us/case-ends-against-five-ex-blackwater-officials.html?_r=0) of the CIA.
It may seem less likely now, but one has to wonder what dirty trick the former security contractors will pull in court this time. What do they think they have on the US government from working for Blackwater that they can threaten to expose if the Justice Department continues to pursue this case? Or do they no longer have that kind of leverage and will Iraqis finally see justice served?
More than six years later, someone ought to go to jail for committing what was one of the worst atrocities in the war in Iraq.

David Guyatt
10-18-2013, 08:25 AM
The United States has brought new manslaughter charges against four former Blackwater personnel for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisour Square that prosecutors say killed 17 unarmed civilians, including women and children.
Prosecutors say the heavily armed Blackwater convoy launched an unprovoked attack using sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers in the shooting that also wounded at least 20 people.


Of over 20 domestic US mass shootings (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/20-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-u-s-history-fast-facts/), most perps committed suicide while others are actually shot and killed by police. Of the twenty cases cited, four survived. Three are convicted of murder. One is ruled to be mentally incompetent.

Double standards.