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Justice Dept. Brings New Charges in 2007 Blackwater Shooting

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The AP via ABC News reported yesterday that the U.S. Justice Department has brought charges against four ex-contractors from Blackwater Worldwide over a 2007 shooting that left between 14 and 17 civilians dead.

Although the four contractors involved had been previously charged in 2008 with manslaughter and weapons violations, those charges were dropped when a federal judge ruled the Justice Department withheld evidence and violated the contractors’ constitutional rights to a fair trial.

A federal appeals court resurrected the case on the grounds that the federal judge, Ricardo Urbina, was wrong in his interpretation of the law. Urbina is now retired. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has given the Justice Department until Monday to decide how to proceed.

The incident occurred on September 16 in Baghdad. During an assignment in which they were expected to protect U.S. diplomats, the Blackwater escort convoy opened fire on the crowded Nisoor Square with grenade launchers, machine guns, and sniper fire. Defense lawyers are claiming the men were under insurgent attack.

The defendants’ names and veterancy statuses were reported: Dustin Heard, former Marine of Knoxville, TN; Evan Liberty, a former Marine of Rochester, NH; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant of Sparta, TN; and Paul Slough, a U.S. Army veteran of Keller, TX.

The amount of charges vary between the ex-contractors: Slatten is being charged with 14 counts of voluntary manslaughter and 16 counts of attempted manslaughter while Liberty and Heard are respectively charged with 13 counts of voluntary and 16 counts of attempted manslaughter. Slough also received 13 counts of voluntary manslaughter, although his number of attempted manslaughter charges is 18.

All those charged would face a long stint in prison if they are convicted. Two other contractors were reportedly involved in the incident, but prosecutors dropped their charges against a fifth contractor (retired Marine Donald Ball of West Valley City, UT), and a sixth contractor (Jeremy Ridgeway of California) is already awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty.

Only Heard’s defense lawyer, David Schertler, emailed comments to the AP. “We will continue to fight and defend Dustin Heard’s innocence and honor until he is fully exonerated,” he wrote.

Across the aisle, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said the prosecuting team “demonstrates our commitment to upholding the rule of law even in times of war and to bringing justice to the memories of those innocent men, women and children who were gunned down in Baghdad more than six years ago.”

[Image via Blackwater's website as it exists today]

Justice Dept. Brings New Charges in 2007 Blackwater Shooting
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  • Reality

    We kill many innocent people in this world. Why do you think the world hates us? You do realize that they do, don’t you? Just travel outside the country and you will see. The world isn’t jealous of our way of life or our system of government or our wealth. The American people are constantly fed that garbage. That is nothing but propaganda.

    It never used to be that way. But it is now.

    The world does not like us because we invade countries and kill innocent people. It is like the school yard bully. There is no one to stop him so people put up with him but no one likes him. They just can’t do anything about it. We are viewed as nothing but a bully overseas. We are the lone superpower and no one can stop us from doing anything. We are taking advantage of that now. Heck, after 9/11, there was literally a website that existed that detailed America’s plans for global expansion and what areas the US was going to put bases in. (It was taken down after people started noticing it.)

    Here is the problem with being a bully though. Sooner or later, the group makes a stand against the bully. People band together. Enemies become friends to fight the bully. If we don’t stop our Imperialism, sooner or late the rest of the world is going to do just that.

    The sad part is that at one point in history — we really did have a great foreign policy. It wasn’t perfect, but the vast majority of things were very good.

  • Shame

    Sad but true.

  • Politically Correct

    I love how they use the term “contractor” as if it is some benign corporate job. These people are killers … hitmen … mercenaries. I know a man in prison who is a hitman for the mob …. I’d trust him before I trusted a government hitman. Funny thing is that they do exactly the same things, but one guy is sent to prison for life and one is protected by the government. People wonder why there are so many unsolved murders in this world. It is because groups like this operate in the shadows. You really have no idea who they are going after.

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