Monday, December 8, 2008

The Blackwater Manslaughter Case

The Washington Post reported today that five Blackwater security guards were charged with manslaughter in conjunction with a shooting incident in Iraq in Sept. 2007 that left 17 civilians dead.  According to the article, the guards were: 
working as Blackwater security contractors for the State Department when their convoy pulled into Nisoor Square and they opened fire.

They claim they were under fire from insurgents.  But the Iraqi government contends that they "fired without provocation."  Military & FBI investigations couldn't find anything to support the Blackwater guards' assertion that they were fired upon.

With the caveat that I don't know all the details, but going just by this article and other published reports, this whole thing smacks of a political prosecution.  It seems unlikely that the guards, all former military men, would just open fire on civilians without a good reason.  If they are convicted, I hope the convictions rest on something stronger than the word of the Iraqi government about something that happened in a war zone.

It is also worth mentioning that one of the charges is a firearms charge.  

The guards face the firearms charge under a 1980s drug law that made it a crime to use a machine gun in a crime of violence, according to the sources.
The sheer stupidity of this charge, when applied to paramilitary forces working for the State Department, makes me question the validity of the prosecution.

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