Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blackwater guards found guilty in Iraq shootings

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The case was mired in legal battles for years, making it uncertain whether the defendants would ever be tried.

The trial itself focused on the killings of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others. During an 11-week trial, prosecutors summoned 72 witnesses, including Iraqi victims, their families and former colleagues of the defendant Blackwater guards.

There was sharp disagreement over the facts in the case.

The defendants' lawyers said there was strong evidence the guards were targeted with gunfire from insurgents and Iraqi police, leading the guards to shoot back in self-defense. Federal prosecutors said there was no incoming gunfire and that the shootings by the guards were unprovoked.

The prosecution contended that some of the Blackwater guards harbored a low regard and deep hostility toward Iraqi civilians.

The guards, the prosecution said, held "a grave indifference" to the death and injury that their actions probably would cause Iraqis. Several former Blackwater guards testified that they had been generally distrustful of Iraqis, based on experience the guards said they had had in being led into ambushes.

More here.

Finally.  Some justice.

Of all the war crimes committed by US personnel in Iraq, this was, to me, the most disturbing, the most infuriating.  I mean, technically, they weren't even US personnel; they were mercenaries, hired guns, thugs, it turns out, working for the State Department.  It was a bad idea from the get-go to use these people.

For a while there, it even looked like these killers would go scot-free because there appeared to be no American law governing their actions--the defense asserted that the law under which they were tried applied only to the military, not civilian contractors employed by an agency which is not the Pentagon.  And it's, like, really?  We can just hire murderers and it's all good and dandy?  Really?  Really?!?

Blackwater symbolized everything that was wrong with our invasion and occupation of Iraq: the arrogance, the callousness, the hatred, the wanton violence.  So good.  We've convicted some of the symbol.

But I won't be happy about it all until we've put the architects of the war in jail.  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, and others, all of them need to be behind bars.  All of them are criminals.  All of them led us as a nation into what the Nuremberg Trails found to be the greatest of all war crimes, the waging of aggressive war, the malevolent and bloody umbrella under which all lesser war crimes take place.

Let's not stop now.  Justice must be done.