( – promoted by buhdydharma )
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.
Examples such as former Sen. Ted Stevens’ conviction being set aside due to “mishandling and misconduct” by government prosecutors. Or, the suspension and overturning of convictions of Lt. Col. Oliver North by using his “tainted” testimony about Iran-Contra given to Congress under a promise of immunity. Or, even the convienient, 11th-hour discovery of Karl Rove’s notes on his conversation with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine that “rocked” special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s “world” and kept Rove from being indicted.
Now the U.S. Justice Department announced “it would not seek murder charges against Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater armorer accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice president on Dec. 24, 2006.” According to his attorney, Moonen “gave the embassy officials a statement only after he was issued a so-called Garrity warning – a threat that he might lose his job if he did not talk, but that he would be granted immunity from prosecution for anything he said.”
The government’s decision to drop the Moonen case follows a series of failures by prosecutors around the country in cases aimed at former personnel of Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services. In September, a Virginia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of two former Blackwater guards accused of killing two Afghan civilians. Late last year, charges were dismissed against five former Blackwater guards who had been indicted on manslaughter and related weapons charges in a September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square in Baghdad, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.
Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene…
In each case, the agreements presented an obstacle to prosecution in the United States. In effect, the Blackwater personnel were given a form of immunity from prosecution by the people they were working for and helping to protect.
Every criminal case involving Blackwater personnel during the Bush administration has been botched by a “legal obstacle of the government’s own making”. American justice at work.
139 of George W. Bush political appointees were “burrowed in” the Department of Justice from 2005 to 2009, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. 32 Bush appointees transitioned to career positions within the Department of Justice during the final two years of Bush’s reign. These burrowers are still lurking in Holder’s Department of Justice and are probably waiting for an opportunity to inflict damage to a Democratic administration or, as past behavior suggests, help out a friend with “immunity” or some strategic misconduct by the prosecution.