U.S. Justice Department hands down 35-charge indictments against Blackwater Guards
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Media Link: http://www.c-span.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-A-13235
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I came to the "whitewash" realization after listening to the Justice Department press conference of the 35-charge indictment.
You can watch this on the CSPAN website -- http://www.c-span.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-A-13235
Jeffery Taylor, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Raven 23 convoy was responding to the detonation of an IED. Their mission was defensive in nature and were only authorized to discharge their firearms in self defense only. "The indictment does not charge or implicate Blackwater Worldwide. It charges only the actions of certain employees for roles in the September 16th shooting." He goes on to list the defendants and the various indictments, including the defendant who plead guilty and provided information about the event. He said they were all "independent contractors, employees of Blackwater Worldwide." (Are they admitting now that these independent contractors are employees? If so, then Blackwater has not been withholding taxes appropriately!)
He continued, "It bears emphasis that today's indictments are very narrow in their allegations. Six individual Blackwater Guards have been charged with unjustified shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, not the entire Blackwater organization in Baghdad. There were 19 Blackwater guards on duty that day on Nisour Square. Most acted professional, responsibly, and honorably. Again, this indictment should not be read as an accusation against any (cough) of those brave men and women who risk their lives as Blackwater security contractors."
(This was about 10 minutes into the 33-minute press conference) The obvious body language of the cough illustrates loud and clear that Taylor had some trouble with this passage.
Given the careful game played by Blackwater, we understand that there is very little that happens "by chance" around them. This investigation took over a year, not even getting starting until quite a ways into 2008. Despite the glowing praise heaped on by the FBI director in charge, Joseph Persichini, regarding the breath and depth of the investigation, it seems clear that they did not investigate why Blackwater guards tend to violate the rule of law and have a reputation of disregard to human life to determine the obvious culpability of BW and their training methodologies.
I would guess that they wanted this moved forward BEFORE the change in administration, and therefore, before any desire to dig into the liability of BW in the affair. We know the federal prosecutors are routinely purged and replaced at the change of party control.
Q: "Since the Obama Justice Department will inherit this case, along with its legal difficulties, did you brief the transition on the case, did you ask them to sign-off on the evidence?
A: "No, we did not. I think our ordinary policy in criminal matters is we move forward with those cases, when they're ready to be charged, we charge them, and we move forward. We followed that policy in this case." (Pat Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security)
Hmmm. He thinks they have some sort of "ordinary policy"... but this is no ordinary case. It is the VERY FIRST case under the MILITARY EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION ACT (MEJA), and includes global implications, including our relationship with Iraq, a country we are currently occupying. Obviously something that should have absolutely been under discussion with the new admin. The use of this "ordinary policy" that he "thinks" exists is certainly a red flag. It means they wanted to rush this out under the Bush admin before Obama folks could dig into it.
For some reason, none of the reporters at the event felt that it was appropriate to ask whether Blackwater should be included in the indictments, but managed to ask questions like "They were authorized to have weapons, right?"
My prediction is that they will start with the 30-year term and then reduce it substantially, but most importantly, making sure that Blackwater Worldwide comes out smelling like a rose. They must make these contractors fully responsible for what happened. Will Erik Prince step out of his seclusion and accept any responsibility for the guards under his command?
Honor would demand such an action, but where is such honor in this day and age?