Iraq

The Loophole Won't Be Any Smaller Next February

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This week U.S. District Judge Richard Urbina declined to halt the prosecution of five former Blackwater guards who were involved in the one-sided 2007 shootout that killed at least 14 civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square. Although he conceded that the arguments for tossing out the charges "are rather strong," Urbina said the question of whether the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act applies to security contractors hired by the State Department can be decided after the prosecution presents its case, which is supposed to happen about a year from now.

In December I argued that the statute does not apply to these men, which is too bad, since their actions seem to have been criminal and probably would constitute voluntary manslaughter if committed in the United States or by American soldiers (or Pentagon contractors) in Iraq. They would also be crimes under Iraqi law, if only the U.S. occupation authorities had not declared Iraqi law inapplicable to Americans. Since this is an issue of law and not an issue of fact, I don't see how letting the prosecution present the government's version of the events in Nisour Square can illuminate the matter. I understand the desire not to let the defendants escape through a "loophole," but in this case the loophole happens to be the law. 

In related news, Blackwater Worldwide has changed its named to Xe (pronounced "zee") and is undergoing layoffs.

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  1. In related news, Blackwater Worldwide has changed its named to Xe (pronounced “zee”)

    Ernst Blofeld has taken over and wanted a name with a little more “European” flavor.

  2. Epi – Really? I thought it was because it was staffed entirely by former Special Forces guys who had converted to the Dark Side of Xenu-worship.

  3. Scientologist Special Forces does sound very scary. I say Xe-No.

  4. I understand the desire not to let the defendants escape through a “loophole,” but in this case the loophole happens to be the law.

    So what? “The Law” doesn’t mean shit any more if you can successfully explain a reason why the law should not apply. Out government routinely violates the law (and our rights) and justifies it because of the WoT.

    It would be rather refreshing if for once “the law” is ignored in a way to actually allows justice to be served rather than to allow violators to get away with it.

  5. I have met a goodish number of Blackwater employees. They were, for the most part, scary loons who fancied themselves soldiers of fortune. Some of them (many of them, probably) were guys the Army wouldn’t take. Others were ex-military guys who thought the military just had too many rules about when to pull the trigger.

    A lot of them seemed to live in some action movie version of reality in which they were the stars, like they all wanted to be that guy whose friends said, “Naw, man, don’t fuck with him- he’s a bad motherfucker.”

  6. Some of them (many of them, probably) were guys the Army wouldn’t take

    Bull shit.

  7. When I was in Iraq I met, worked with, and was protected by many private security contractors. I met a few blackwater guys but never had any professional contact with them. I can say that Blackwater had a reputation amongst the other PS contractors in Iraq as being “cowboys”.

    I have to say though that all (yes ALL) of the private security guys I met and worked with were complete professionals. They were all retired military Special Ops guys, Marines, etc.

    There were no PS guys who “the Army would not take”. I believe Blackwater was no different, they only employed ex military guys. Whether the shoot out the Blackwater guys engaged in was righteous, I cannot say; but Iraq was/is a very dangerous place. When convoys are attacked, the engagement happens in a matter of seconds and reaction time is accordingly a split second thing.

  8. There was report in December that the shooters would be prosecuted under a drug law that calls for 30 year prison terms for anyone who uses a machine gun in any crime.

    http://www.military.com/news/article/blackwater-shooters-to-face-drug-law.html?col=1186032310810&wh=wh

  9. kwais,

    I meant in terms of physical ability, not criminal history or psychological evaluations.

  10. Come to the DarkSide.

  11. I meant in terms of physical ability, not criminal history or psychological evaluations.

    Well, I suppose there are some fat ones, and there are some old ones. Most of the dudes that aren’t ex military are cops.

    Still, there is not much that the Army doesn’t take.

  12. Still, there is not much that the Army doesn’t take.

    Hey!

  13. Ex-cops? That’s reassuring.

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