Jury convicts Blackwater guards in 2007 Iraq deaths
October 22, 2014 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Seven years after American security contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqis by firing machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle, a jury in Washington on Wednesday convicted all four Blackwater Worldwide guards charged in the incident on at least some of the charges.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
This will only act as a disincentive for brave men and women to serve their country... as mercenaries and paid thugs.

Good.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


Good. Hope it stands up on appeals.
posted by tavella at 9:41 AM on October 22, 2014


Good. At this point I'm resigned to the likelihood that there will never be a full reckoning on the atrocities committed in Iraq, to say nothing of the use of torture and illegal surveillance elsewhere in the Bush era, so I'll take whatever justice we can get.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:44 AM on October 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


IANAL, so what are the odds that the "MEJA does not apply" argument would be accepted by an appeals court?
posted by kewb at 9:46 AM on October 22, 2014


I'd like to personally hug each of my fellow Washingtonians who helped to convict these ghouls.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Good. Surprising, but good.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meh.

The government uses contractors to defer responsibility, and have an easy scapegoat to throw under the bus.

This verdict was certainly justified, but the system seems to be working as it's always been designed to. The people who were responsible for the conditions that led to this atrocity have been shielded from any and all consequence.

This was extremely predictable. Wake me when we start holding trials for the people who hired the guards.
posted by schmod at 10:11 AM on October 22, 2014 [39 favorites]


...one of them falsely claimed to believe the driver of an approaching vehicle was a car bomber.

Meaning what? That he lied about the fact of his believing? Or that what he believed - the nature of the approaching driver - was false? Huge difference. A better editor would have caught this.

The government uses contractors to defer responsibility, and have an easy scapegoat to throw under the bus.

That, and to pay back campaign contributors. And to keep down the number of Our Boys In Uniform coming home in body bags.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges. (For those who don't know, Scahill wrote the book on Blackwater.)
Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries. Prince now has a new company, Frontier Services Group, which he founded with substantial investment from Chinese enterprises. Among its areas of focus is the African continent. Prince recently suggested that his forces at Blackwater could have confronted Ebola and ISIS. “If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” Prince recently wrote.
So yeah. It's not just the people who hired Blackwater, it's the monster who created it that is getting off.
posted by graymouser at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2014 [18 favorites]


i can only imagine how blackwater would have 'finished the job' /wrt ebola. Probably a bullet in the head of anybody that sneezes.
posted by empath at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


For the search engines, Blackwater is now named Academi, after briefly being named Xe Services.

I didn't know about the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act which allowed them to be prosecuted in the US. There was no chance of them being prosecuted under Iraqi law, of course. MEJA dates to 2000 and has only been used a few times.
posted by Nelson at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Meaning what? That he lied about the fact of his believing? Or that what he believed - the nature of the approaching driver - was false? Huge difference. A better editor would have caught this.

Surely "falsely claimed to believe" only has one possible meaning? That the claim to believe was false. The abverb, as far as I can reason, clearly applies to "claimed", not to "believe".
posted by howfar at 10:55 AM on October 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


From the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the victims in a human rights suit in 2010:
While today’s verdict cannot bring back the innocent Iraqis killed at Nisoor Square, it is a step towards full accountability for Blackwater’s actions. However, holding individuals responsible is not enough. If corporations like Blackwater, now known as Academi, are granted the rights accorded to “people” they must also bear the responsibilities. Private military contractors played a major role in the pressure to go to war in Iraq and have engaged in a variety of war crimes and atrocities during the invasion and occupation, while reaping billions of dollars in profits from the war. To this day, the U.S. government continues to award Blackwater and its successor entities millions of dollars each year in contracts, essentially rewarding war crimes.
Source. It's a good day to follow @jeremyscahill.
posted by graymouser at 10:58 AM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Academi." Sigh. That asshole.
posted by JHarris at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely "falsely claimed to believe" only has one possible meaning? That the claim to believe was false. The abverb, as far as I can reason, clearly applies to "claimed", not to "believe".

Ideally, but I see too much careless writing to be that sure, and earlier in the article the journalist had shown himself to be less than totally dispassionate. For the sake of utter clarity, it would have been more forthright to say "the jury determined that he lied when he claimed to believe that the truck was driven by terrorists". Or something along those lines. Wordier, true, but this is, was, a capital case.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:33 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


'Bout damn time.
posted by xedrik at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2014


We shouldn't count our chickens. "Mandatory minimum of 30 years" sounds good, but there's plenty of chances for them to get off on appeal. I'd still bet it's fairly likely none of them sees the inside of a jail.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2014


> Wake me when we start holding trials for the people who hired the guards.

So until that somehow happens you'll be sleeping? Meh indeed.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wake me when we start holding trials for the people who hired the guards

Yeah. I can't be happy for convictions of the people who were doing the best they knew how with the shitty orders they were given.
posted by corb at 4:45 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Corb these are scumbags in a scumbag organisation. I dont think they were told to go out and blow civilians away; just that when they did no one in the organisation gave a shit. I hope they go down for a long time. I wish their superiors and those who knowingly turned a blind eye would go down for longer, but then I wish for too much probably.
posted by adamvasco at 5:20 PM on October 22, 2014


I can't be happy for convictions of the people who were doing the best they knew how with the shitty orders they were given.

There is no question of doing "the best they knew how." These were armed men, guarding armored vehicles, who opened fire on civilians in their automobiles at a crowded traffic circle and didn't stop until 17 people had been killed. Even if there had been a car bomb, which is a lie that the Blackwater mercenaries told to justify their rampage, that would not have somehow justified the outright slaughter that occurred. Guarding a vehicle does not entail opening fire on everyone around it, in any circumstance.

Blackwater's mercenaries were not good people given "shitty orders." They were high-profile bodyguards and thugs for occupation officials, who were infamous for the contempt that they held the Iraqi people in. This was a case where, on the thinnest possible pretext (a car that wouldn't stop moving toward them), they let loose and slaughtered civilians.
posted by graymouser at 8:03 PM on October 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


How the hell am I only finding out about this conviction, 24 hours after it happened, on MeFi?


Something is wrong in my life.
posted by Mezentian at 8:22 AM on October 23, 2014


This was a case where, on the thinnest possible pretext (a car that wouldn't stop moving toward them), they let loose and slaughtered civilians.

I have had friends who were under orders to shoot any car that would not stop moving towards them. These were US soldiers, it was an incredibly common order, as was the order to run over anyone in the road who would not get out of the road rather than to stop or slow down.
posted by corb at 12:37 PM on October 23, 2014


Well if they committed war crimes in the course of doing that they should go to jail and so should their superiors.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


The question usually seems to be "Is it okay to possibly kill civilians in order to make soldiers/dignitaries safer?" I'm not sure of the answer to that. I'm honestly not sure. Would you define that as a war crime? Or does it need to be deliberate?
posted by corb at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2014


I have had friends who were under orders to shoot any car that would not stop moving towards them. These were US soldiers, it was an incredibly common order, as was the order to run over anyone in the road who would not get out of the road rather than to stop or slow down.

Orders do not change the nature of war crimes. They hung people at Nuremburg for following orders. If orders are criminal, both the person issuing the orders and the person carrying them out are fully liable for what they do.

When you start openly firing on unarmed civilians in a crowded public square, it doesn't matter what your original orders were, you are committing a war crime. That is what the Blackwater thugs did, and that is what they were convicted of. If they were ordered to do so, then the people issuing the orders need to be convicted as well.
posted by graymouser at 6:44 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


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