Patterico's Pontifications


All Blackwater Charges Dismissed (Updated)

Filed under: Law,War — DRJ @ 3:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina today dismissed all manslaughter and weapons charges against five Blackwater security guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad in 2007, citing government overreaching:

“Justice Department prosecutors improperly built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity. Urbina said the government’s explanations were “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”

Apparently the court found the government compelled the guards to provide evidence against themselves in the equivalent of a Garrity interview. In Garrity v New Jersey, the United States Supreme Court “held that when a police officer is coerced, under threat of discipline, to give a statement, the officer is immunized against the use of the statement in a subsequent criminal prosecution.” The Blackwater case involved a similar situation:

“After the shooting, the State Department ordered the guards to explain what happened.

Investigators promised the men that their statements were to be used only for the internal inquiry and would not be introduced in a criminal case. Such limited immunity deals are common in police departments so officers involved in shootings cannot hold up internal investigations by refusing to cooperate.

The deal meant that prosecutors had to build their case without using those statements. Urbina said the Justice Department failed to do so. Prosecutors read those statements, reviewed them in the investigation and used them to get search warrants, Urbina said.”

Judge Urbina did not reach the issue of whether the shooting was proper.

This incident was very controversial in Baghdad and the Iraqi government pressed to have charges filed in Iraq instead of the United States. This dismissal will likely result in a backlash from Iraqis.


UPDATE 1/1/2010Outrage from Iraq:

“The Iraqi government vowed to pursue the case, which became a source of contention between the U.S. and the Iraqi government. Many Iraqis also held up the judge’s decision as proof of what they’d long believed: U.S. security contractors were above the law.”

24 Responses to “All Blackwater Charges Dismissed (Updated)”

  1. When lawyers built, and continue to construct, the legal system we have, then all must be willing to abide by the rules the rule makers have set forth.

    A very long time ago, lawyers said F-It to justice, the concern was following the 1001 rules they created.

    This dismissal will likely result in a backlash from Iraqis.

    Good, then we can pull up our pants and come home, they can build their own water and power systems and schools and hospitals too.

    TC (0b9ca4)

  2. this was politically motivated BS from jump street.

    as for the Iraqis, let them bitch and moan all they want.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. Nice to see rights afforded to those who actually are entitled to them.

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  4. The election is over and the Obamis are giving up, at last, on prosecuting Bush and Cheney. Why push this anymore ? They accomplished their purpose.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  5. Just for some tangential background information, provided by my daughter (more from her above and below the link):


    ok now I have to say something. Blu, whoever you think you are, why don’t you go over there and see what really goes on in the American run Iraqi prison system. I will tell you, I worked in one for 15 months, and we got spit on, human shit thrown at us, attacked, and not once were we allowed to “fight back” let alone abuse our prisoners. We could subdue them, and that was all. I want to see you go over there and keep your composure, as you have shown you are too ignorant for already, while you are getting hit in the face with a steaming pile of human shit that some Iraqi who you saw footage of blowing up your comrades just grabbed out of the seat of his pants.
    The American soldiers you see on tape torturing prisoners? Some punk ass privates, you know somebody like them. There’s one or two in every crowd. You cannot sit there, from your lay-z-boy, with your McD’s in hand, while next to your family everyday, and say that you wouldn’t be the one to take your anger and rage out on people you know, KNOW, just blew up your best friend. You are basing your entire opinion of the prison system off of a few isolated incidents. Correct me if I am wrong, but that follows the exact same principals as racism, sexism, and all the other unjustified hatreds in this world.
    Women and children? Yeah, we had them, they were also involved in the infiltration of our FOB(forward operating base) when we arrested them. As for other children in the prisons, well you tell me… There’s no family, no orphanage, and we just arrested their mother and father, what would you have us do with them? Since you know everything there ever was to know.
    Arresting innocent people? I’m sorry, tell the bad guys to put a uniform on and fight us face to face to save us the confusion, then I promise you, no innocent people will be arrested. Some of them do wear uniforms though, they are the corrupt IP and IA, I have the newspaper article where 2 IA killed 5 of our guys with an RPG. Oh, yeah, and they are the ones who abuse prisoners, not us. And when we had prisoners with disciplinary problems, we threatened that we would send them to the IP and they calmed down, very quickly. Short story, in closing…
    I improcessed a prisoner once, as I did many times. We recieved him from the IP’s, he was in their custody for 60 days before being handed over to us. (Notice, the Iraqi Police were the arresting officers) He was STILL wearing the clothes he was arrested in. He had a broken foot, and a 60 day old bullet in his leg, neither of which had even so much as a scooby-doo band-aid on them. So, as SOP states, we held him for 14days, mandatory. We discovered, during his stay, that he had lived in a duplex, well the bad guys lived in the other half. THE IRAQI POLICE got the wrong guy, and beat the snot out of him for no reason. He was a school teacher, with 5 young boys and a wife who didn’t work. His family was left out to dry for no reason. We sent him home with $120( 1400 dinar per US dollar) a new pair of crutches, a mended foot and bullet wound, and new found faith in the Coallition. He cried while he thanked us for everything when we released him back to his family.

    So Blu, before you preach on something, you need to get your facts straight. Because I’ve been there, I’ve lived it, I know what it’s like. So until you do, what what you say because before you just looked stupid, now, you look like a complete idiot.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  6. Fine then. The victims of the massacre should be allowed to sue Blackwater/Xe in a civil lawsuit. Of course, thanks to the precedent set by Saleh v. Titan they probably won’t be able to do even that.

    Nice to see rights afforded to those who actually are entitled to them.

    Yes, because sand niggers don’t have rights. Only our Glorious Aryan Private Warriors are entitled to such liberties.

    AJB (3008d4)

  7. Obviously, AJB has a very serious problem with his or her severe racism. Thank you for your bilgewater, AJB, as you drive on by.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  8. Yes, because sand n—–s don’t have rights. Only our Glorious Aryan Private Warriors are entitled to such liberties.

    Stay classy, AJB, and leave the projection on another blog.

    h2u (147639)

  9. Aha, yes. By pointing out the double standard in which Arabs detained by the US military are considered subhuman while mercenaries (hired murderers) are given all the benefits the Constitution affords them in addition to broad immunity from civil lawsuits I am the real racist.

    Next you’ll be telling me how librulz are the real fascists because Hitler was a vegetarian or some shit like that.

    AJB (3008d4)

  10. “the government’s explanations were “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”

    Wow, that statement applies to 99% of all Obama’s policies or attempted polices.

    Pons Asinorum (ea2afc)

  11. try that again 😉

    *of Obama’s policies or attempted policies.*

    Pons Asinorum (ea2afc)

  12. Only our Glorious Aryan Private Warriors are entitled to such liberties.

    Comment by AJB

    Yes, and DailyKos is just around the corner. I hope you fell better soon. Markos shares your feelings about our military and especially those security guards.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  13. This is disgusting.

    Apparently murdering 17 innocents in broad daylight with a ton of witnesses is completely fine if you are a private company and can find a dubious technicality.

    Matt (87988f)

  14. Blackwater’s personnel claimed from the get-go that they were taking incoming before they responded.
    But, State required that all bullet damage to the vehicles be repaired immediately, even before the investigation was begun.
    Therefore, the best evidence of self-defense was taken away from them due to a mind-less requirement at State that all vehicles be “showroom ready”.
    This was a Kangaroo Kourt from the outset, set into motion by the wailings from the Iraqi government.
    We see the same situations in AfPak with every use of air-power:
    Karzai is constantly claiming that every Afghan casualty is an innocent civilian.

    And, AJB: In the scheme of things, doggie-do on the sole of a combat boot ranks higher than you.

    AD - RtR/OS! (c7228f)

  15. Why is it that mindless trolls seem to travel in pairs lately?

    AD - RtR/OS! (c7228f)

  16. AD, it’s because one is external and the other is internal.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  17. JH, do you think we could get our host to install a Preparation-H filter?

    AD - RtR/OS! (c7228f)

  18. From the article: “An FBI investigation found that at least 14 of the 17 Iraqis killed were shot without cause.”

    If you can’t determine where the fire is coming from, just shoot every Iraqi you see — right?

    How would you guys feel, if, I don’t know, some foreign embassy guards in D.C. shot up 17 Americans because they “thought” they were “taking fire” and “decided” to “neutralize” all possible “threats?”

    At the least, you’d want them to face trial. At least I hope so.

    Cranky (f8bef7)

  19. Apparently murdering 17 innocents in broad daylight with a ton of witnesses is completely fine if you are a private company and can find a dubious technicality.

    It got William Ayers off the hook…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  20. If you can’t determine where the fire is coming from, just shoot every Iraqi you see — right?

    In a word, “yes”.

    When being fired upon, and when unable to determine exactly where the fire is coming from, shooting every God Damn thing that moves is perfectly valid.

    You would prefer, perhaps, more dead Americans?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  21. AJB – Aryan military? Really?

    Matt – You should prolly read the post before puking out your crap.

    JD (4f510e)

  22. I updated the post with the Iraqi response.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  23. When you’re in a war-zone, the only law is the law-of-the-gun – particularly when the other side wears no identifiable uniform.

    Guilty, until proven innocent – or dead!

    AD - RtR/OS! (cd4296)

  24. breaking: US mercenaries murder innocent Iraqi civilians for literally no reason and get away with it

    TRI (e10a0e)

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