…from Russia Today, Moscow
[ Editor’s Note: Despite the legal aspects of this horrendous event winding down as we enter the final appeals process, both the victims and these perpetrators lives will remain changed forever.
But this was a just a smidgen of justice for the huge number of crimes done to the Iraqi people not just by the contractors, but the US military itself.
Insurgency warfare is never pretty. But the air of immunity that hung over the ongoing murder show in Iraq contributed to its being far worse than it should have been.
The major injustice is that no one corporately involved in the training of these hair trigger killers was tried for what these men were taught to do. And by that I mean that even in a densely populated area, as soon as one of their people opened fire, the rest were to deem themselves to be in a free fire zone and to eliminate any threats.
I am sure the Blackwater lawyers chose the wording carefully, but we know that this was interpreted to mean shoot everybody around you to eliminate any “possible threats”. In this city environment there was no opportunity to plant weapons to cover themselves as we know bad elements of our military did out in the field.
Even though these men saw no incoming fire, saw no one with a weapon, they just blasted away at all the cars in the intersection.
This was a result of their training…and that warm blanket of immunity the guards felt that Blackwater had wired in to their contract, that when mistakes were made, money would be paid and that would be the end of it.
It was for the victims, and the contractor people at the top, just like the military brass over Abu Graib, none of whom were even charged despite knowing exactly what was going on there. I would like to say that maybe something good was learned from this, but I would be lying.
The bigwigs breathe easier now with another confirmation that only those down the line will be held responsible for events like this. Hence we have State sponsored terrorism becoming an accepted foreign policy destabilizing tool. “Me thinks we doth not protest enough.”… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … April 13 , 2015 –
Four men who worked for the private military contracting firm formerly known as Blackwater were sentenced in federal court on Monday, more than seven years after they massacred Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad.
A sentencing hearing for the four men – Nicholas Slatten, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough – began at 10 a.m. ET in Washington, DC on Monday. Later in the afternoon, the Washington Post reported that Slatten was handed a sentence of life behind bars, while his three ex-colleagues were each dealt 30-year sentences as a result of firearms convictions they were handed last fall..
Six months earlier, a jury convicted Slatten, a former Blackwater security guard, of first-degree murder for his role in the infamous September 2007 ambush.
Together, the men participated in a rampage in the busy Baghdad traffic circle during the height of the Iraq War that left 14 civilians dead. Blackwater, which has since changed its name to Academi, had deployed the guards there along with others to provide diplomatic security services during the American-led military operation.
Attorneys for the former contractors filed an emergency motion on Friday asking the court to delay this week’s sentencing hearing in light of newly discovered evidence they wanted entered in the case, but the request was ultimately rejected that afternoon by US District Judge Royce Lamberth.
Kristen Slough, a wife of one of the former guards sentenced this week, said during a press conference following Monday’s sentencing that attorneys will file motions in the coming days in which they’ll request new trials.
“Defendants, who have been confined since the verdict, do not lightly seek delay, or seek delay for its own sake. But these issues deserve full consideration by the Court: it would be unfair to proceed to impose sentence and enter judgment when this new evidence, disclosed less than two days ago, leaves the trial result fundamentally in doubt,” defense lawyers wrote, to no avail.
The Associated Press said attorneys for the defendants were likely to argue for mercy from the court during Monday’s sentencing, but prosecutors with the federal government asked that the court consider more than just the mandatory minimum 30-year sentences for the three convicted for using military firearms while committing a felony.
According to the Washington Post, the government has asked for a 57-year sentence for Slough, who was also convicted of 13 counts of manslaughter and 17 counts of attempted manslaughter; 51 years for Liberty, also convicted of eight counts of manslaughter and 12 counts of attempted manslaughter; and 47 years for Heard, also convicted of six counts of manslaughter and 11 counts of attempted manslaughter. Slatten faces a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole.
“The crimes here were so horrendous – the massacre and maiming of innocents so heinous – that they outweigh any factors that the defendants may argue form a basis for leniency,” the Post quoted from the prosecution’s filing.