Tag: Blackwater

Aug 08

The Outsourcing of War

The Trump administration has a brilliant idea on how to deael with the conundrum of the 16 year war in Afghanistan: privatize it by outsourcing it to a private mercenary army. Trump White House weighs unprecedented plan to privatize much of the war in Afghanistan By Jim Michaels, USA Today The White House is actively …

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Apr 14

Civilian Contractors Sentenced for Iraq Massacre

After years of investigations, set backs, a 10 week trial, 28 days of deliberations and the four men convicted, the sentencing for the Blackwater guards who slaughtered 17 people in Nisour Square, Baghdad on Sept. 16, 2007, took place in a courtroom in Washington, DC.

One former Blackwater security contractor received a life sentence on Monday and three others received 30-year sentences for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007. [..]

Nicholas A. Slatten, a former Army sniper from Tennessee, was convicted of murder for firing the first fatal shots. Three others – Dustin L. Heard, also of Tennessee; Evan S. Liberty of New Hampshire; and Paul A. Slough of Texas – were convicted of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and the use of a machine gun in a violent crime. The last charge carried a mandatory 30-year prison sentence under a law passed during the crack cocaine epidemic.

Mr. Slatten was sentenced to life in prison, and Mr. Heard, Mr. Liberty and Mr. Slough to 30 years. The men are all in their 30s.

Now where is the justice for all the other civilians who have been killed and, or, tortured by American soldiers, drone pilots and contractors? Where are the prosecutions of those who ordered it and wrote the memos that justified the violations of US and International law? Where and when will the United States do the honorable thing for them?

Today justice was served but it should just be the beginning. This is not enough.

Oct 22

Blackwater Mercenaries Convicted for 2007 Baghdad

Three security guards who worked for private security contractor, Blackwater, were found guilty of manslaughter stemming from a 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. A fourth guard was found guilty of murder. All are facing long prison terms.

The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.

But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.

Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.

The fourth defendant, Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence.The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.

But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.

Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.

The fourth defendant, (Nicholas) Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence. [..]

Jeremy Ridgeway, another member of the convoy known as Raven 23, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2008 and agreed to testify against his colleagues in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

The Legal Director of Center for Constitutional Rights, Baher Azmy issued this statement upon hearing the verdicts:

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.

The may be a great deal of satisfaction that these men will pay the price for their crimes but their boss, Eric Prince, and the other architects of war crimes remain free.

While Barack Obama pledged to reign in mercenary forces when he was a senator, once he became president he continued to employ a massive shadow army of private contractors. Blackwater – despite numerous scandals, congressional investigations, FBI probes and documented killings of civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan – remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.

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 and which focuses on opportunities in Africa. 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,” he wrote.

None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors. Just as the main architect of the CIA interrogation program, Jose Rodriguez, is on a book tour for his propagandistic love letter to torture, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives, so too is Erik Prince pushing his own revisionist memoir, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.

Jan 19

Arrrrrghhh !!!

As Lieberman deliberated, the new chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), told HuffPost that the party would consider supporting Lieberman if he returned to the fold.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Joe Lieberman,Senator Joe Lieberman

Joe & George the President


The feeling of ill will is mutual: Lieberman said during the health care debate that one reason he opposed a Medicare buy-in compromise was that progressives were embracing it.

Joe Lieberman and John McCain

Joe & John the Presidential Candidate




March 20, 2003

” What we are doing here is not only in the interest of the safety of the American people. Believe me, Saddam Hussein would have used these weapons against us eventually or given them to terrorists who would have. But what we are doing here, in overthrowing Saddam and removing those weapons of mass destruction and taking them into our control, is good for the security of people all over the world, including the Iraqi people themselves.”

http://www.lobelog.com/lieberm…

John McCain Joe Lieberman,McCain,Lieberman

Joe and John in Iraq


September 29, 2011.    10 years and 18 days after 9-11 attacks on NYC



” It is time for us to take steps that make clear that if diplomatic and economic strategies continue to fail to change Iran’s nuclear policies, a military strike is not just a remote possibility in the abstract, but a real and credible alternative policy that we and our allies are ready to exercise.

It is time to retire our ambiguous mantra about all options remaining on the table. It is time for our message to our friends and enemies in the region to become clearer: namely, that we will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability — by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must. A military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities entails risks and costs, but I am convinced that the risks and costs of allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capability are much greater.

Some have suggested that we should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran and pledge to contain it. In my judgment, that would be a grave mistake. As one Arab leader I recently spoke with pointed out, how could anyone count on the United States to go to war to defend them against a nuclear-armed Iran, if we were unwilling to go to war to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran? Having tried and failed to stop Iran’s nuclear breakout, our country would be a poor position to contain its consequences.

I also believe it would be a failure of U.S. leadership if this situation reaches the point where the Israelis decide to attempt a unilateral strike on Iran. If military action must come, the United States is in the strongest position to confront Iran and manage the regional consequences. This is not a responsibility we should outsource. We can and should coordinate with our many allies who share our interest in stopping a nuclear Iran, but we cannot delegate our global responsibilities to them.”

http://www.lobelog.com/lieberm…

http://lieberman.senate.gov/in…

Oct 21

All according to plan…

The New York Times reports that “Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing“.

Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.

This is the kind of justice I’ve come to expect in America. The rules set up to protect people against malfeasance are being exploited instead to shield people with connections to wealthy and powerful conservative interests.

Jun 08

For Sale: Blackwater

Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that the company formerly known as Blackwater is pursing a sale of the company.

Xe Services announced its decision in a brief statement that gave few details, the agency said.

Owner and founder Erik Prince said in a statement that selling the company is a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind, according to the agency.

I think it isn’t so much that Prince couldn’t stand the constant criticism, but rather after Blackwater mercenaries massacred 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad on the September 16, 2007, he couldn’t shake public attention to his once-fly-below-the-radar operation.  

May 04

Erik Prince Speaks

You remember Erik don’t you?

Well, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation had access to a tape of him speaking that he’s planning on reporting but you get to see early via his blog RebelReports and Atrios.

Erik the Bloody-

A little known fact, you know when the shoe bomber in Iraq was throwing his shoes at President Bush, in December 08, we provided diplomatic security, but we had no responsibility for the president’s security-that’s always the Secret Service that does that. We happened to have a guy in the back of the room and he saw that first shoe go and he drew his weapon, got a sight picture, saw that it was only a shoe, he re-holstered, went  forward and took that guy down while the Secret Service was still standing there flat-footed. I have a picture of that-I’m publishing a book, so watch for that later this fall-in which you’ll see all the reporters looking, there’s my guy taking the shoe thrower down. He didn’t shoot him, he just tackled him, even though the guy was committing assault and battery on the president of the United States. I asked a friend of mine who used to run the Secret Service if they had a written report of that and he said the debrief was so bad they did not put it in writing.

emptywheel’s take-

Erik Prince Proposes Blackwater Become Big Oil’s Enforcer

By: emptywheel Monday May 3, 2010 3:36 pm

Mar 03

Duh.

Interference Seen in Blackwater Inquiry

By JAMES RISEN, The New York Times

Published: March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON – An official at the United States Embassy in Iraq has told federal prosecutors that he believes that State Department officials sought to block any serious investigation of the 2007 shooting episode in which Blackwater Worldwide security guards were accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians, according to court testimony made public on Tuesday.

In December, a federal judge dismissed the criminal charges against five former Blackwater guards in the Nisour Square shooting, and criticized the Justice Department’s handling of the case, chiding prosecutors for trying to use statements from defendants who had been offered immunity and testimony from witnesses tainted by news media leaks.

The documents made public on Tuesday show that before the December dismissal, prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents working on the Nisour Square case took the stand in October to argue that they had plenty of untainted evidence. In a closed-door hearing, they also contended that they had evidence that, in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, there had been a concerted effort to make the case go away, both by Blackwater and by at least some embassy officials.

In fact, prosecutors were told that the embassy had never conducted any significant investigation of any of the numerous shooting episodes in Iraq involving Blackwater before the Nisour Square case, according to the documents.

The dismissal of the criminal case against the guards for Blackwater in the Nisour Square shooting prompted bitter protests by Iraqis against the United States, and it led the Iraqi government to threaten to bring a lawsuit of its own in the case.

The Justice Department has now appealed the dismissal. Blackwater has settled one series of civil lawsuits brought by victims of the Nisour Square shooting, but another lawsuit brought by another group of victims is still pending.

(h/t Atrios)

Jan 23

Biden: U.S. to Appeal Blackwater Case Dismissal

I just caught this and there doesn’t seem to be much on it yet

U.S. to Appeal Blackwater Case Dismissal, Biden Says

There isn’t a time mark on the NYT piece but the few others I found had it as about an hour ago.

This is a cut from the Times piece.

Jan 08

Life is cheap. If you’re brown.

Blackwater settles civil lawsuits over Iraq deaths

By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 7, 4:34 pm ET

RALEIGH, N.C. – The security firm formerly known as Blackwater has reached a settlement in a series of federal lawsuits in which dozens of Iraqis accused the company of cultivating a reckless culture that allowed innocent civilians to be killed.

It was a princely settlement- $30,000 for each person wounded and $100,000 for people who were murdered.

Not all the plaintiffs appeared happy with the decision. Sami Hawas Hamoud Abu al-Iz also was wounded during the 2007 Nisoor Square incident along with his son. His mother was killed. He said the agreement came after the plaintiffs were told by their lawyers that there was a risk that they might not receive anything.

The lawsuits sought compensation for deaths and injuries. Unlike federal probes that have specifically targeted company contractors for their actions, the civil lawsuits accused the Moyock, N.C.-based company – and founder Erik Prince – of producing a climate in which it was acceptable for innocent Iraqis to die.

“Mr. Prince personally directed and permitted a heavily-armed private army … to roam the streets of Baghdad killing innocent civilians,” one of the lawsuits said.

But you know you can’t let pesky things like that affect the bottom line.  This is a free market economy, not socialism.

“This enables Xe’s new management to move the company forward free of the costs and distraction of ongoing litigation, and provides some compensation to Iraqi families,” the company said.

They hate us for our freedoms you know, like the freedom to fire Hellfire missiles from drones at anything that moves, just like wolves from a helicopter.

Faithless Heathens: Scriptural Economics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Two of the dead, Jeremy Wise, 35, a former member of the Navy Seals from Virginia Beach, Va., and Dane Clark Paresi, 46, of Dupont, Wash., were security officers for Xe Services, the firm formerly known as Blackwater.

As long as it’s brown and furrin’.

Because we’re not cowards!

The problem is that these mooslim rag heads don’t value life like us bible believin’ ‘muricans.

Jan 05

Hollywood vs. Blackwater

Although the extraordinarily evil corporation formerly known as Blackwater is prospering under its new nom de guerre, Xe, it has been decisively defeated in the arena of popular culture. Hollywood has pronounced its verdict in three recent films: “Moon,” “District 9,” and “Avatar.” In each of these films, a corporation assumes all the powers of a sovereign state and unleashes elite mercenaries to ravage the innocent in pursuit of profit. This consistently negative depiction of malevolent, militarized, predatory corporations is a clear indication that the public no longer supports these corporate killers. Let’s take a quick look at the films:

Jan 02

At Least the Iraqi’s are Outraged

It seems that the people of Iraq are angered at the dismissal of all charges against the Blackwater security guards in a case that left 17 dead.

Photobucket

An Iraqi looks at a burned car in the days after the 2007 killing of 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The dismissal of charges could fuel a fresh outcry. (Ali Yussef / AFP/Getty Images / September 24, 2007)

Now x-posted at WWL

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