All Charges Against Blackwater Guards in Nisour Killings Dismissed

Judge Ricardo Urbina has dismissed all charges against the Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square killings. He explains he has dismissed the charges because the government violated the constitutional rights of the Blackwater guards by using compelled statements against them.

From this extensive presentation of evidence and argument, the following conclusions ineluctably emerge. In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation. In so doing, the government’s trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on Garrity and Kastigar issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution. The government used the defendants’ compelled statements to guide its charging decisions, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads and, ultimately, to obtain the indictment in this case. The government’s key witnesses immersed themselves in the defendants’ compelled statements, and the evidence adduced at the Kastigar hearing plainly demonstrated that these compelled statements shaped portions of the witnesses’ testimony to the indicting grand jury.2 The explanations offered by the prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.

In short, the government has utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants’ statements or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court must dismiss the indictment against all of the defendants.

Now, I look forward to what our resident defense attorney has to say about this–but my gut feel is that Urbina correctly judged that DOJ screwed up this prosecution.

Nevertheless, I have to wonder whether Erik Prince’s threat campaign had anything to do with this. Or whether the brothers Krongard had any role in making sure these guys couldn’t be prosecuted.

One thing is clear, though. The executive branch managed to screw this case up. Either State or DOJ used evidence improperly. And as a result, these alleged murderers will go free.

139 replies
  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    I guess Xe really is above the law.

    Good to know, going forward, that there’s a mercenary army beyond the reach of law enforcement. It’s best to have these things sorted before they come home and start using these tactics inside the USA.

    • Larue says:

      They already have, in LA and NOLA, post Katrina.

      Given the treatment the two bloggers got from TSA recently, it would not surprise me that we will begin to see people ‘disappear’ more openly and often . . .

  2. Loo Hoo. says:

    Urbina’s ruling does not say whether the shooting was proper, only that the government improperly used evidence to build the case. After the shooting, the State Department ordered the guards to explain what happened.


  3. Loo Hoo. says:

    Jump to: navigation, search
    Howard J. Krongard
    Born December 12, 1940 (1940-12-12) (age 69)
    Occupation State Inspector General

    Howard J. “Cookie”[1] Krongard (born December 12, 1940), was an appointee in the government of President George W. Bush. Krongard was head of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State. His position was known as the State Inspector General or State IG. After being accused of averting probes into contracting fraud in Iraq and a possible conflict of interest regarding investigations into Blackwater Worldwide, Krongard left his post on January 15, 2008, and was not eligible for retirement.[


  4. phred says:

    the government’s trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors,

    Not only did DOJ screw up the prosecution, but the fact the prosecutors “repeatedly disregarded the warnings” smacks of tanking the case on purpose. Heckuva job Barry and Eric!

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As with the prosecutions of politicians, such as Ted Stevens in Alaska, one has to ask whether this DoJ screwed up on purpose. No government would have wanted or easily survived the issues a public prosecution would air, let alone the additional theories a strong defense would raise.

    This is one more continuation of the Bush corruption of the DoJ. Are the lawyers involved here still with the DoJ? Will they be demoted or fired as part of a review of this gross mishandling of the case. It is galling not simply because it denies justice to the wronged, but because the US government explicitly structured circumstances so that only it could judge such cases. And now it has precluded even that. Elvis may have left the building; Nixon’s ghost remains and is laughing its head off.

  6. CTMET says:

    It looks like the lead attorney Ken Kohl has an impressive record….

    Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ken Kohl attends a news conference at the Justice Department August 6, 2008 in Washington, DC. Depite some skepticism over its evidence, the Justice Department declared the 2001 anthrax attacks investigation closed. A federal judge unsealed documents Wedensday related to the attacks after an Army scientist killed himself last week after investigators linked him to the attacks.
    (August 6, 2008 – Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

  7. CTMET says:

    This comes from a REAL GENUINE socialist/communist web site (not just us DFHs) but another data point on Kohl.

    Professor Palmera’s first U.S. trial on terrorism and kidnapping charges ended with a hung jury and Judge Hogan declared a mistrial.
    Afterwards, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. Prosecutor Ken Kohl and was forced to step down

    I couldn’t find anything on it in traditional media.

    • bmaz says:

      I assume the dismissal was without prejudice, which means charges could be refiled; and the government could certainly appeal. But, trust me, this is it – it is over and done. Finis.

  8. Gitcheegumee says:

    Well, what have we got so far here- Interpol has jurisdiction on our soil, Blackwater is once again given a get out of jail free card,the Supremes have ruled that we are terrorists if the government says we are…Guantanamo is still open…HCR is a shakedown for Insurance….Goldman Sachs and the Feds are being allowed to use the American citizenry as their personal chattel…

    Happy New Year

  9. klynn says:

    Either State or DOJ used evidence improperly. And as a result, these alleged murderers will go free.

    Funny how that keeps on happening.

    Perhaps we need a law that makes the enforcers liable for the crimes when they screw up the legal process.

    • pdaly says:

      I’m reminded of the post 9/11 misconduct by TSA government attorney Carla Martin during the Moussaoui trial. She divulged information about the case in emails to not only the government’s witnesses but also to the Defense witnesses thereby tainting the witnesses, preventing testimonies, and shielding (according to Jeralyn’s theory) the FAA and US Airlines from adverse judgments.

      Jeralyn writes about it here
      and here.

          • fatster says:


            Actually, I was hoping one of the lawyers around here would check info to which they have access and see if she’s still in practice in the fed gubmint. Meanwhile, I did find this, too, and I kinda doubt she got through unscathed, but weirder things have happened (such as the outcome of the trial today–sigh).

            “As a result of her improper contact with the aviation witnesses, Martin was placed on leave from her job with the TSA and is currently the subject of various investigations.  Specifically, federal prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges against her, and the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (the state in which she is licensed) is investigating her conduct.  In addition to possible criminal charges and disbarment, seven family members of September 11 victims, who have sued various airlines for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, have also filed suit against Martin in federal court, alleging that she “illegally coached witnesses and otherwise attempted to shade and alter evidence before the Moussaoui court” in order to help her “friends” in the airline industry evade potential civil liability.10 ”


            • fatster says:

              I thought I put this in a comment a few minutes ago, but it seems to have disappeared. If it does turn up later, my apologies for the dupe.

              I found this, and it does seem to be the same person., but of course I am not 100% positive.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Here‘s a picture of him.

      From this article:

      In the last case, Kohl was caught colluding with the judge and the judge had to step down. Kohl’s cheating set the stage for Judge Lamberth to take over. In the retrial, Judge Lamberth approved dozens of prosecution witnesses, while not allowing Palmera even one. U.S. prosecutor Kohl’s sentencing arguments were outrageous distortions.

  10. Stephen says:

    Seems there is a pattern developing alright, the bad guys are always winning. You would think they would throw us a bone once in awhile.

  11. bluewombat says:

    (Posted in response to Lord Hoo @ No. 2. Yoo-hoo!)
    That’s my guess as well — “Oh, sorry — didn’t realize we were creating a prejudicial error that would necessitate throwing the case out! Our bad!”


    I guess that’s the way the Cookie crumbles.

  12. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Now, I look forward to what our resident defense attorney has to say about this–but my gut feel is that Urbina correctly judged that DOJ screwed up this prosecution.

    Funny how the DOJ screws up cases involving the politically connected or embarrassing.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, this case was toast from the outset. I think it was only filed in order to draw some blood from the public scorn; but it never had a chance in hell on a LOT of grounds. And I am pretty sure the intentional monkeywrenching started immediately, the second it happened, by the State Department.

  13. ThingsComeUndone says:

    By showing we are not just we push Iraq away from us. My dad told me when General MacArthur was in Japan an American solder raped a local girl he tried the guy fast and had him hung in public after that the Japanese trusted him.
    Granted we probably threw away all hope of trust after abu Graid but this doesn’t help.

  14. Loo Hoo. says:

    So they sped up the trial?

    Erik Prince, recently outed as a participant in a C.I.A. assassination program, has gained notoriety as head of the military-contracting juggernaut Blackwater, a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees, set for next month. Lashing back at his critics, the wealthy former navy seal takes the author inside his operation in the U.S. and Afghanistan, revealing the role he’s been playing in America’s war on terror.
    By Adam Ciralsky
    January 2010

  15. researcher says:

    no surprise here

    we are there to steal their oil

    bush jr was an oil guy

    we sow what we reap

    american arrogance is huge

    americans dont care about iraqis like they did not care about the million vietnamese we killed

    we protested over the draft looking out for out own skin

    we are war mongers and imperialists

    bet the germans did not know they were war mongers and imperialists

    the germans called their soldiers heroes and their slogan was support the troops.

    sound familiar

    • orsonrollsover says:

      well, as a noted justice of the supreme court once said (paraphrased): the day does not in a moment become the night…

      I often wonder if people in this country realize what they are supporting, and where that puts them (or will put all of us) once history looks back…

  16. Larue says:

    This is incredibly shocking.

    It’s also insane. Sick, and insane, given how this admin’s gone so far, so early in it’s tenure.

    “One thing is clear, though. The executive branch managed to screw this case up. Either State or DOJ used evidence improperly. And as a result, these alleged murderers will go free.”

    EW, my immediate first question is, was this intentional? By either State OR DOJ, or both?

    This nation is in severe crisis WRT it’s status as a democratic republic . . . . it’s become apparent that all branches of government are indeed bought out by the corporate oligarch which includes the MIC which includes the contractor complex . . .

  17. Becca says:

    The other half of the problem is we have contractors doing soldiers’ jobs.

    A soldier who commits a crime can be court-marshaled. A contractor committing a crime on foreign soil while doing combat-risky duties, and who is armed but answerable to nobody… Well is anybody surprised this turned out badly?

  18. Kelly Canfield says:

    Myself and my blogmates over at the UnrulyMob have been arguing about this for years, and assumed this outcome.

    We were/are derided as lunatics from time to time. That’s fine, but, here ya go, predicted this AND here’s another:

    No way Holder will ever support a sovereign entities claim to Cheney or Rumsfeld on war crimes. There will come a decent docket from Spain or Italy, and the USAG will say, NOPE!

  19. Hugh says:

    We talked about the Garrity issues here. Even those of us who are not lawyers understood the importance of segregating evidence and investigation and avoiding any hint of fruit of the poisoned tree. I for one am getting sick of these DOJ fuckups. They seem incapable of organizing and managing an effective prosecution. From Moussaoui to Ted Stevens, federal prosecutors have shown that they can’t present a case. I chalk this one up to either deliberate sabotage or another monument to the Age of Stupid.

  20. Rayne says:

    At what point are we going to start looking for the embeds, the left-behinds?

    I’m still getting prods that left-behinds are deliberately causing mayhem and in some cases running the show.

    • Kelly Canfield says:

      You hit on it without realizing it: They Are Running The Show.

      There’s no such thing as a left-behind or mole when Obama still has Gates at the top of the Pentagon.

      Things are working as scheduled. Sorry, that’s the truth of it.

      It’s the same thing, there’s no talk of repealing Graham-Leach-Bliely and restoring Glass Steagall. There’s similarly no talk of Pnetagon and Defense reform.

      • Larue says:

        Well, good to see ya in our foxhole, hoss . . . fully formed, too.

        The more folks just come out and SAY what this shit is, the more traction we get as being accurate, reliable and TRUE about it all . . . . then the next stage begins . . . the masses begin to SHOW their discontent.

        In many ways, such as civil disobedience, boycotts, work stoppages, etc.

      • Rayne says:

        I think Gates was selected because a number of parties had strong comfort level with Gates, not just that he’s a left-behind. One of the other prods I’ve received is that racism in the upper echelons of the military is endemic, and an African American president with no military background was going to be undermined severely (more so than he was) by racists if he had not left a leader in place whom they respected. I don’t think Gates is really the problem based on the feedback I’ve received, although he’s clearly not a solution over the long run.

        The problem is buried within the next several layers of management across the military, across the government below the level of appointees. For example I’ve been told it was these embedded left-behinds who actually leaked Petraeus’ report on Afghanistan, putting Petraeus on the defensive with the POTUS and making POTUS look bad and on the spot. If they are capable of having a dramatic impact on the pre-escalation evaluation process, what else are they capable of fucking with?

        And as for the problems we see in Afghanistan this week with the killings of CIA officers/assets and the earlier killings of civilians including children: how much of this is a direct result of programs being run by embedded left-behinds. programs which were established under a different administration and functioning independently of the current strategy? I honestly don’t know if even the obvious people like Gates have a clue how to rein all of this in.

        I don’t know if this is the case in DOJ, have to wonder if there are parallels though — but one of the unspoken problems with national security has been the ODNI, which was inflated under Bush/Cheney but without clear chain of command and clear charter, in conflict with the CIA. Is it at all possible some of the same conditions exist in other departments like DOJ?

    • Larue says:

      They are ALL embeds, across the board, dept to dept, including the WH.

      I think we have proof enough at hand for me to make that assertion.

      It’s corrupt, dirty, and corporate owned top to bottom, this nation of ours.

      At this point the bad guys are now beginning to round up the more vocal in the mass population, one by one.

      Soon, the internet will become assaulted, and controlled, too. There have already been pushes to do so. Google up RAIN dot com or org . . .

      The masses are being herded and rounded up into a controllable and containable package.

      Dissent will fall by the wayside, as we all fall to lower and lower standards of living, and XE patrols our streets.

    • weekendclimber says:

      Cheney has Black op teams all over the world that he’s compartmentalized and is controlling from a cave in Wyoming. Pretty scary shit.

    • Mary says:

      Respectfully – whatever trouble they are causing could be shut down any time Holder and Obama wanted to shut it down. They go on bc Obama wants it that way.

  21. Seymour Friendly says:

    This court decision is utterly terrible. These (probably racist) murdering mercenaries are being given a free ride on shooting innocent people to death.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The court’s decision is probably quite valid. It is the political calculations that led to the circumstances requiring it that are utterly terrible.

  22. Seymour Friendly says:

    This court ruling dropping the indictments against these paid killers has to be the mother of all bullshit technicalities. It is also clear that the “risks” associated with the US paying mercenaries are 100% visible.

    At some point, some way, some how, some day, the way that the US has so blithely taken the lives of innocent people in the Middle East and Central Asia, it will have to come home to roost. I am not talking about some half-assed crotch bomber, either. Our government is reaching for another 9/11. Or worse.

    • bmaz says:

      Man you are so far off the mark; these are defined rights and the defendants should be guaranteed their benefit. It is flat out wrong, legally, to make the statements and conclusions you have.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      For a court to come to this conclusion, the facts had to be far more than technicalities. It had to be a clear and convincing case that the prosecution had violated its obligations. Courts do not reach such conclusions lightly.

      The US has employed far too many mercenaries. It is useful to warmongers and should be cut back or stopped. By design, it channels public funds to private corporations in large, unregulated amounts. It was done with no oversight, which pads a lot of wallets, making them too big to sit on. It avoids a draft, making foreign wars too easy to wage. As Bush and Obama have funded them, by not funding them, it hides their contributions, how essential they are, and how expensive. And it allows much to be done, in effect, off the books legally as well as financially.

      It is a travesty, but not an invitation to attack. The players are too shorted in that regard. It is a way for a few to make a lot of money off the public dime, and to institutionalize that circumstance for a generation.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Here’s a piece that is salient to your post:

        President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations.
        Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

        Unbeknownst to almost all of Washington and the financial world, Bush and every other President since Jimmy Carter have had the authority to exempt companies working on certain top-secret defense projects from portions of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Administration officials told BusinessWeek that they believe this is the first time a President has ever delegated the authority to someone outside the Oval Office. It couldn’t be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision.

        William McLucas, the Securities & Exchange Commission’s former enforcement chief, suggested that the ability to conceal financial information in the name of national security could lead some companies “to play fast and loose with their numbers.” McLucas, a partner at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in Washington, added: “It could be that you have a bunch of books and records out there that no one knows about.”

        NOTE: The date of this article is 2006….BEFORE the Walll Street heist/bailout of 2008.

  23. fatster says:

    Case so badly botched it was bounced by the court, huh? Guess that beats trying to get a bill passed that would retroactively make things ok.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yea, that takes a bit of work. Think Ted Stevens. Pity the court didn’t come to the same conclusion in the Don Siegelman case.

  24. Cynthia says:

    As long as we have an administration in power who sees our country more as a Christian theocracy than as a secular democracy and who sees the Blackwaters of the World as Crusaders for Christ, hell will freeze over before we’ll ever see these cold-blooded killers locked behind bars.

    • Mary says:

      Pretty much agreed, except they aren’t cold blooded killers IMO. They are souped up frat boys, drunk on depraviy and living without boundaries or consequences. Not cold blooded, they kill for fun and because they can.

  25. Gitcheegumee says:

    Is it just me or should a review of “Know when to Holder ’em, and Know when to folder ’em,” be in order,a la Emmanuel investigation?

    (BTW,FWIW, Wayne Madsen gave a big heads up to Hamsher for demanding an investigation into the Rahmbo FM/FM issue)

  26. Stephen says:

    Sam Stein writes for the Huffington Post about John Yoo’s new book, ” John Yoo favorably argues that President Barack Obama is wielding executive powers in the same manner as his White House predecessor”. Now thats a feather in your cap Barry.

  27. dickdata says:

    I’m sure that it’s just a coincidence that the DOJ got exactly the result that the Bush/Obama administration wanted.

  28. PJEvans says:

    I suspect that this kind of result makes a lot of politicians sleep better, because it makes it harder for them to face justice for their sins (whether of omission or commission).

    The other message is that all of the little people – the Iraqis, the Afghans, us – will never see justice done in things like this. Because it would require hurting Important and Serious People in the Village.

  29. jackbuddha says:

    I’m gonna need some new cuss words. Cannot believe this shit. I don’t know when the boat sailed, but it is surely gone. If these wars ever end, Blackwater/Xe will be coming to a town near you. We’re going to need to clone General Honore, many copies.

  30. Hmmm says:

    Quick drive-by from me…

    On-topic: Sometimes it stings like hell when a court has to do the right thing. Now how the HELL do we keep State and Justice from screwing it up the next time?

    Off-topic: Every best wish to Marcy, bmaz, Mary, WO, Freep, eoh, Loo Hoo, fatster, Gitcheegumee, pdaly, PJEvans, TCU, Rayne, eCAHN, person1597, Hugh, LurkMod, all me other Wheelhouse droogies, and the whole backstage crew for a happy, safe, and really fun New Year’s Eve and Day. You-all are, without exception, the very best and I feel very, very privileged to be able to come share thoughts with you all. Thank you so much for the wealth of talent and goodwill that you bring here. More like this in 2010!

  31. ocean1 says:

    Blackwater + Iraq and now Afghanistan = America most hated and criminal country in the world. Thank you Blackwater and DOJ…still not fun to travel as an American. Thanks to PM Harper, it’s not easy to say Canadian either (check out the movie Syriana with George Clooney).

      • ocean1 says:

        Thanks for the suggestion, but I am an American, not Canadian…besides, Canadian hands aren’t much cleaner anymore. Look at the news from Afghanistan. I have traveled a lot in my life and now paying the Carbon debt for it. Will stay put and blog with you puppies for a while longer! Cheers to all!
        PS. Read a story tonight about ALL the nations (Romanians being last I think) withdrawing from Iraq. So now W’s Coalition of the “whore nations” only consists of ONE occupying power. Yes, the good ol’ USA.
        Lovely stuff.

        • Loo Hoo. says:

          I’m American too. I used to present my passport proudly. Now I wear Canadian or Mexican gear as I travel. It just feels safer.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Smart move. It reminds me of the expatriate saying that Canadians are like Americans, but with manners. It’s a remark that seems truer of their governments.

    • nr16020 says:

      Don Siegelman is the main example of a man who is innocent, being jailed and trying to get released on appeal. (Karl Rove had a major influence in the criminal conduct of the prosecutors and judge in the Alabama court.)
      Eric Holder, you are disgusting. You could release Don Siegelman IF YOU TRULY OVERSAW JUSTICE. You, and Obama, are responsible for NOT imprisoning guilty men and imprisoning innocent men.
      Shame on both of you.

  32. Ralph says:

    Who knew that “heck of a job” performance could be so useful? This system is almost too good to be true: I promise to mess up prosecuting you, if you promise to mess up prosecuting me.

  33. Seymour Friendly says:

    I put up a comment earlier saying something like “thank god” about a bombing that killed 2 blackwater mercenaries in Afghanistan. I retract that comment, not because I care about someone who works for an outfit like Blackwater, and kills for money, and has a racist, dehumanizing outlook frequently, but because I deplore all the violence in the Middle East and Central Asia right now. Anyone killed there right now is killed unnecessarily and the violence in the environment those poor people live in is terrible and simply should end.

    I also want to make it clear that I don’t care about what sociopathic legalistic garbage is vomited from the mouth of some “judge” or from the mouths of apologists for paid murderers. These men belonged in prison for the rest of their filthy lives for what they did.

    To make it clear to people who read my diaries and comments, I approach these issues equally from the standpoint of sentiment and reason. If you read what I write, it will not probably ever be cold, but it will never lack reason, either.

  34. Mary says:

    I haven’t read any of it, but I’m amazed that the Judge is able to say:

    In so doing, the government’s trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on Garrity and Kastigar issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution.

    as if the court/defendants were given access to atty work product.

    So the court can grab that crap and latch onto it to dismiss charges agains men who not only killed an innocent woman and her son, bu fused their bodies together – – but god forbid that they could get behind privilege allegations to allow crime vicims to access info on how DOJ conspired to torture and kill innocent people.

    Nice how that works.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A bit of one-sided justice, wouldn’t you say? It’s what the US is becoming known for around the world. Which makes life so much easier for the Putins and Wen Jiabaos of the world.

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Odd how everyone should be free who hasn’t been convicted in a court of law, by a jury of his peers, in open court, according to admissible evidence, all of which the defense has had an opportunity to see, hear and dispute.

    Mr. Obama, the great constitutional lawyer, is a fraud. Mr. Obama, the president, is a work in process. Mr. Obama, the politician is a middle-of-the-roader who finds comfort in finding the middle, in taking the course of least political resistance. As with water, that route is the fastest one down hill.

  36. marc says:

    It seems obvious that the Krongard brothers deliberately monkey wrenched the case before the Blackwater gun barrels even had time to cool down.

  37. Jeff Kaye says:

    Cookie took care of his own. How nice. To paraphrase Dylan Thomas, after the first atrocity, there is no other.

    Who is really shocked anymore? Larue put it well @55, though I don’t share the pessimistic conclusion. If anything, I think we are beginning to see a rise in political consciousness. And that’s not just from hanging out here at this wonderful site.
    Sharing Hmm’s sentiments for a great new years for all here.
    Keep fighting for truth.

  38. kking says:

    Give the kids from Blackwater a break.Privet contractors hired to fight ower war.I’m sure there actions were out of fear.Cowboys not soilders.In the wrong place.What about the war crimes of the leaders we elected pass and present.

    • Rayne says:

      Shooting civilians without being fired upon first is not “ower war.”

      It’s murder, and no self-respecting U.S. citizen would ever support this kind of behavior.

      It certainly wasn’t fear driven, either, when they had overwhelming fire power according the DOD and they also didn’t take out combatants but innocents in the street, according to the U.S. State Department.

      But unfortunately these immoral private cowboys, who represented their country poorly, are not going to get their day in court because their government handlers ensured they’d never get a fair trial.

      Give them a break? Hell no. They should have had real due process years ago. Justice was already denied once when they weren’t prosecuted immediately under the Bush/Cheney administration, before their handlers deliberately screwed this up.

      • kking says:

        American civilians in a war zone.When was the last time you was in a place with the rule were to stay alive. Talk about the Drawns droping bombs from 5000 ft. The people OK ing Drawn attacks do thay need to be on trial when a child and his family are suspected bad guys are killed?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It was the US government’s job to give trained, disciplined and accountable soldiers the responsibility of using their brains and their weapons to protect US interests within the laws of war and foreign occupation.

      The US chose to delegate its responsibility to undisciplined mercenaries and it chose to shut its eyes and oversee them poorly, and it chose to immunize them in an attempt to immunize itself from its and their malfeasance. These soldiers fired their weapons. The US government chose to put them into a position where they could do so without accountability.

      The buck stops in Washington, where it always has, in the Oval Office. If the president sideslips the buck into a neverland of unaccountability, it’s his doing. This president didn’t put that chain of events into motion. He’s doing precious little at any level of the outsourcing chain to prevent such events from happening again or to make those who let it happen accountable.

  39. vinny says:

    Can someone make sure Emptywheel and others here check this out, and that is…
    There’s is an aspect of this story that is crying out for coverage and that is ABC’s involvement in undermining the Nisur Square Shooting Case. Here’s an excerpt from the judge’s ruling on the matter…

    In the following days, the defendants’ September 18 written statements, which the government has conceded were compelled under Garrity, were leaked to the media and disseminated globally in news reports. See, e.g., Defs.’ Media Exs. 2, 6, 7. The earliest of these reports was a September 28, 2007 article in which ABC News reported that it had obtained “sworn statements given to State Department investigators” in which Blackwater personnel described the events that had occurred at Nisur Square.

    Clearly, someone in the State Dept. was obstructing justice, because this action led the judge to throw out all kinds of “tainted” evidence that should have been used to convict these mercenaries of murdering 17 innocent Iraqi civilians in cold blood.

    ABC needs to reveal its source for the sake of justice.

  40. vinny says:

    Can someone make sure Emptywheel and others here check this out, and that is…
    There’s is an aspect of this story that is crying out for coverage and that is ABC’s involvement in undermining the Nisur Square Shooting Case. Here’s an excerpt from the judge’s ruling on the matter…

    In the following days, the defendants’ September 18 written statements, which the government has conceded were compelled under Garrity, were leaked to the media and disseminated globally in news reports. See, e.g., Defs.’ Media Exs. 2, 6, 7. The earliest of these reports was a September 28, 2007 article in which ABC News reported that it had obtained “sworn statements given to State Department investigators” in which Blackwater personnel described the events that had occurred at Nisur Square.

    Clearly, someone in the State Dept. was obstructing justice, because this action led the judge to throw out all kinds of “tainted” evidence that should have been used to convict these mercenaries of murdering 17 innocent Iraqi civilians in cold blood.

    ABC needs to reveal its source for the sake of justice.

  41. vinny says:

    Because of the nature of use immunity, Garrity statements may present thorny legal issues, even when the statement, itself, has not been introduced at trial or even seen by the prosecution team. This is true because an internal investigator, or other person having access to the Garrity statement, may reveal its contents to a federal investigator, prosecution witness, or the media – sometimes without revealing its source. When this happens, it is possible that the testimony of other witnesses may become contaminated.9

    I guess there is a question of what responsibility the State Department has in keeping these statements from being leaked. There’s got to be some code for this.

    • bmaz says:

      While it is somewhat reprehensible that the Garrity letter(s) were leaked to the media, that, in and of itself, should not have been a factor in the dismissal. The dismissal should be premised on dissemination within the government evidentiary and prosecutorial chain once the Garrity letters were in existence. The second you use compelled Garrity letters when it is a governmental employer/employee situation, it is given this is going to happen. There is no question in my mind whatsoever that this was intentionally done with an eye to monkeywrenching prosecution by the State Department. ABC News is somewhat irrelevant; the damage was done by the US government.

      • vinny says:

        I think it is worthwhile pointing out how ABC played a role in monkeywrenching the criminal investigation. If not in the record already, ABC should tell us who they got the Garrity statements from.

        • bmaz says:

          But ABC did not have anything to do with the dismissal; the harm was in the prosecution working off of an evidence set obtained and collected by the government with a lack of due process; ABC is irrelevant.

  42. Akatabi says:

    Somehow Confederate Yankee’s take on this makes it on to Memeorandum, but Emptywheel doesn’t.

    • bmaz says:

      That is bunk. As I said up thread, the decision to dismiss was more than legally justified and, in my estimation, quite sound. “Activist judging”, whatever in the world that is to start with (always has seemed to be nothing more that a phrase connoting “decision I don’t like”) has nothing to do with it. Criminal defendants are guaranteed basic Constitutional protections to fairness and due process – and they are NOT “technicalities” – and that is part of the foundation for the rule of law in the American justice system; that is precisely what led to the dismissal here.

  43. SomeGuy says:

    They got off on technicalities better known as the Bill of Rights. Don’t blame the Judge. He is the one who followed the law. This outcome is terrible, but the blame should go where it belongs, not to the Judge.

  44. badlib says:

    big surprise. Amerika’s mercenaries are above the law anywhere they operate and that would apparently include here in the USA as well. It’s 1937 all over again, the nazi’s just changed locations for is all. What I first thought was a republiklan enterprise has now been joined by the democratic party electorate as well. Has anybody noticed that spying on citizens and torture is still legal too? Some change there huh?

  45. Gitcheegumee says:

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace, business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.
    We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt Oct 31, 1936

  46. badlib says:

    If we only had a Roosevelt to lead us out of the current fascist morass now… oh well. It’ll be over someday I’m sure although it is kinda disheartening knowing that the rest of the world no longer likes or respects us as we head down from the top of our former leadership role. Hey. we’re still #37 in healthcare at twice the price of any other developed nation! hoo-haa

  47. badlib says:

    Obama has done nothing about any of these activities. He is way too afraid that the republipukes will call him a witch-hunter (like Sarah Palins witch doctor except he’s OK with the repugs)and a Nazi. That seems to be enough to immobilize any sense of justice in our collapsing country. What other country buys ‘terrorist’ suspects from middle eastern drug lords, hauls them to the commie island of Cuba, tortures, in some case murders them, imprisons them for years without charge and then acts so phucquing surprised that if they are freed they may retaliate against us? Our troops guard the drug-lords crops and operations and employs mercs to do the most murderous acts with full impunity. No wonder the old Tiananmen Square thingy in China was really so minor comparatively speaking.

  48. Gitcheegumee says:

    ” Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law.”

    — former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

  49. bobschacht says:

    And as a result, these alleged murderers will go free.

    There are no do-overs allowed? Because that would be double jeopardy?
    Can’t new charges be filed?

    Bob in AZ

  50. wigwam says:

    One thing is clear, though. The executive branch managed to screw this case up. Either State or DOJ used evidence improperly. And as a result, these alleged murderers will go free.

    How convenient for them. By blowing the prosecution, they can place Blackwater personnel above the law without admitting to doing so. Clever stuff!

  51. wigwam says:

    Nevertheless, I have to wonder whether Erik Prince’s threat campaign had anything to do with this.

    Campaign of threats?!?!

  52. Gitcheegumee says:


    EW and you have been doing some wonderful pieces on Neo Feudalsim,here.

    Chris Floyd put up a fabulous piece a couple of days ago that is just along these lines,and its a knockout.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Update on Our Brave New Slavery: Yes, It Applies to American Citizens, Too

    Written by Chris Floyd
    Wednesday, 30 December 2009

    I wrote a piece here a few days ago on a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, in which the justices agreed with the passionate plea of the Obama Administration to uphold — and establish as legal precedent — some of the most egregious of the Bush Administration’s authoritarian perversions. This was the gist of the ruling:

    The Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever — save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

    One of the attorneys involved in the case rightly likened the ruling to the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, in which the Court declared that any person of African descent brought to the United States as a slave — or their descendants, even if they had been freed — could never be citizens of the United States and were not protected by the Constitution. They were non-persons under the law; sub-humans.

    I noted the grim irony that this principle of non-personhood had now been reintroduced into the law of the land by our first African-American president. (But this is only to be expected, given the law of opposites that so often governs American politics: only a lifelong Red-baiter like Nixon could make an opening to Communist China; only a supposed liberal like Bill Clinton could gut the federal welfare system. And only an African-American president could reintroduce the principle of slavery and get away with it. No doubt it will be a woman president who finally re-imposes a total ban on abortion.)

    Ah, what bliss it must be, to dwell in such sweet ignorance. The many decisions by the Supreme Court and lower courts upholding the federal government’s authoritarian power to strip Terror War captives of inherent and inalienable legal rights are part of a larger framework that applies both in theory and in practice to everyone — American citizens included. What we are seeing is the construction of a new “social contract,” the open codification of a new relationship between the individual and the state, in which all powers and rights reside solely in the latter, which can bestow them or withhold them at will, arbitrarily, unaccountable. In contrast, it is the individual who must be totally accountable to the state. The state is bound by no law, but the individual is subject to them all — including “secret laws” and decrees and executive orders of which he or she has no knowledge

    Excerpt, Empire Burlesque,linky to follow

  53. worldwidehappiness says:

    Stephen @32 wrote:

    Seems there is a pattern developing alright, the bad guys are always winning. You would think they would throw us a bone once in awhile.

    That would be army reservist Lynndie England who was convicted for taking photos of torture that were made available to the public.

  54. Gitcheegumee says:

    Source: NYT

    January 2, 2010
    U.S. Lawyers Knew About Legal Pitfalls in Blackwater Case

    WASHINGTON — The sudden blow to the case against the former Blackwater security guards over a shooting that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded at least 20 may have come as a surprise to the public in Iraq and the United States, but the legal problem that the judge cited Thursday when he threw out the indictments was obvious to American government lawyers within days of the shooting.

    The issue was that the guards, as government contractors, were obligated to give an immediate report of what they had done, but the Constitution prevents the government from requiring a defendant to testify against himself, so those statements could not be used in a prosecution

    Less than two weeks after the shootings in Nisour Square in Baghdad in September 2007, lawyers at the State Department, which employed the guards, expressed concern that prosecutors might be improperly using the compulsory reports in preparing a criminal case against them, according to the decision.

    The prosecutors were also concerned, even using what they called a “taint team” to try to prevent information in the guards’ compulsory statements from influencing the investigation, according to the 90-page ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington. The judge said the prosecutors had failed to take “common sense precautions” to avoid the problem.

    Read more:

Comments are closed.