Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

jetsetter

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Judge tosses Blackwater case, cites gov't missteps
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer ? Thu Dec 31, 6:36 pm ET
WASHINGTON ? A federal judge dismissed all charges Thursday against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.

Citing repeated government missteps, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed a case that had been steeped in international politics. The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad. The Iraqi government wanted the guards to face trial in Iraq and officials there said they would closely watch how the U.S. judicial system handled the case.

Urbina said the prosecutors ignored the advice of senior Justice Department officials and improperly built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity. Urbina said the government's explanations were "contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility."
"We're obviously disappointed by the decision," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said. "We're still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options."
Prosecutors can appeal the ruling.

Blackwater contractors had been hired to guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The guards said insurgents ambushed them in a traffic circle. Prosecutors said the men unleashed an unprovoked attack on civilians using machine guns and grenades.

The shooting led to the unraveling of the North Carolina-based company, which since has replaced its management and changed its name to Xe Services.
The five guards are Donald Ball, a former Marine from West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn., and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas.

Defense attorneys said the guards were thrilled by the ruling after more than two years of scrutiny.
"It's tremendously gratifying to see the court allow us to celebrate the new year the way it has," said attorney Bill Coffield, who represents Liberty. "It really invigorates your belief in our court system."
"It's indescribable," said Ball's attorney, Steven McCool. "It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off his shoulders. Here's a guy that's a decorated war hero who we maintain should never have been charged in the first place."

The five guards had been charged with manslaughter and weapons violations. The charges carried mandatory 30-year prison terms.

Urbina's ruling does not resolve whether the shooting was proper. Rather, the 90-page opinion underscores some of the conflicting evidence in the case. Some Blackwater guards told prosecutors they were concerned about the shooting and offered to cooperate. Others said the convoy had been attacked. By the time the FBI began investigating, Nisoor Square had been picked clean of bullets that might have proven whether there had been a firefight or a massacre.

The Iraqi government has refused to grant Blackwater a license to continue operating in the country, prompting the State Department to refuse to renew its contracts with the company.
In a statement released by its president, Joseph Yorio, the company said it was happy to have the shooting behind it.

"Like the people they were protecting, our Xe professionals were working for a free, safe and democratic Iraq for the Iraqi people," Yorio said. "With this decision, we feel we can move forward and continue to assist the United States in its mission to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan find a peaceful, democratic future."

The case against the five men fell apart because, after the shooting, the State Department ordered the guards to explain what happened. In exchange for those statements, the State Department promised the statements would not be used in a criminal case. Such limited immunity deals are common in police departments so officers involved in shootings cannot hold up internal investigations by refusing to cooperate.

The five guards told investigators they fired their weapons, an admission that was crucial because forensic evidence could not determine who had fired.
Because of the immunity deal, prosecutors had to build their case without those statements, a high legal hurdle that Urbina said the Justice Department failed to clear. Prosecutors read those statements, reviewed them in the investigation and used them to question witnesses and get search warrants, Urbina said. Key witnesses also reviewed the statements and the grand jury heard evidence that had been tainted by those statements, the judge said.
The Justice Department set up a process to avoid those problems, but Urbina said lead prosecutor Ken Kohl and others "purposefully flouted the advice" of senior Justice Department officials telling them not to use the statements.

It was unclear what the ruling means for a sixth Blackwater guard, Jeremy Ridgeway, who turned on his former colleagues and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another. Had he gone to trial, the case against him would likely have fallen apart, but it's unclear whether Urbina will let him out of his plea deal.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_go_ot/us_blackwater_prosecution

Good news.

By the time the FBI began investigating, Nisoor Square had been picked clean of bullets that might have proven whether there had been a firefight or a massacre.

The evidence submitted would no hold up in any court. To say nothing of any and all physical evidence being destroyed or contaminated beyond anything useful. The investigation was doomed before it even began.
 
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jetsetter

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Personally I think that this is a sad day - justice has been badly served by a botched prosecution.

It would have been a travesty of justice to move forward even had they not botched the prosecution. Actual physical evidence is nil.
 

MadCat360

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I'm glad it didn't. There is an unnecessary fear among our military and especially the special operations community about being prosecuted for doing something to ensure the safety of the squad/mission/whatever (see Seal Team 10, nearly all killed save one because they were afraid to shoot an Afghani shepherd that ended up informing the Taliban about their concealed observation post. If they had shot the shepherd with their silenced weapons the mission might've been a success and a Taliban stronghold would've been taken out, but the Seals probably would've been put away for a very long time. A chopper crew was also killed when they sent a SAR mission after them). More needs to be done to protect our soldiers from the idiots that would give them life sentences for trying to save their buddies or achieve the objective.
 

jetsetter

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Since when do democracies privatise war fighting? Bloody private army - not a good thing at all.

From the article:
Blackwater contractors had been hired to guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

A bunch of guards (Blackwater has at most 1,000 armed contractors spread out over the planet) does not equal an army.
 

AiR

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I'd rather have US credibility drop than having unjustly imprisoned warfighters.

I believe the term you're looking for are war criminals ;)

Anyway here's the news

BBC News
Page last updated at 00:43 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Danish cartoonist intruder shot

Danish police have shot and wounded a man in the home of Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked a major row.

Danish media say Mr Westergaard was in his home in Aarhus with his wife and grandchild when a man broke in and threatened him with a hammer.

Mr Westergaard, 74, is said to have raised the alarm and police entered the house and shot the intruder.

Mr Westergaard's cartoons were printed by Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

They triggered violent protests, with Danish embassies attacked around the world and dozens killed in riots.

Mr Westergaard went into hiding amid threats to his life, but emerged last year saying he wanted to live as normal a life as possible.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant, who interviewed Mr Westergaard when he emerged from hiding, says that the cartoonist's home is equipped with a "panic room" from where he can summon Danish police who are stationed nearby.

The intruder was reported to have been wounded by police in the thigh and the arm.

Danish media said he was of Somali descent, although this has not been confirmed.

Islamic militants placed a $1m price on Mr Westergaard's head after he mocked Muslim suicide bombers by depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

This will certainly improve the conditions for immigrants in Denmark :D
 
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jetsetter

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I believe the term you're looking for are war criminals ;)

It is a good thing that the judge did not share your views.
 

nomix

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I just can not get my head around "Here I am sitting in Albania - I know I'll go and live in Finland." It is truly odd.
Albania is not a nice country. Finland is a nice country. I could understand anyone who wanted to live in Finland instead of Albania.

And I can also perfectly understand why a criminal would want to go to Finland. It's a rich country.

And lets not forget that this guy isn't exactly the first one to do such a thing in Finland either.

This will certainly improve the conditions for immigrants in Denmark :D
It'll make it easier to make all muslims look like a bunch of freespeach-hating Afghan mullahs who'd rather have sharia for breakfast than a boiled egg.
 

Cobol74

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Albania is not a nice country. Finland is a nice country. I could understand anyone who wanted to live in Finland instead of Albania.

And I can also perfectly understand why a criminal would want to go to Finland. It's a rich country.

And lets not forget that this guy isn't exactly the first one to do such a thing in Finland either.
Well that is obvious but why Finland in particular for heavens sake?

My point about the now mostly ex "War torn" Belfast stands true for these Roma people - did they not know that the place bristles with guns and people who have no compunction what so ever using them? Knees and elbow joints a speciality - if you really piss them off the drill them out with power drills by the way.

Back on Topic :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_Worldwide

They seem to not be nice people and seem - if this is true - to flout the laws of their host nations.

If you are proud of yourself you do not change your name either.
 
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jetsetter

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A little of the history between America and contractors.

Hollywood made a movie about the first contractor in American history - The New World, starring Colin Farrel as John Smith, helping found the Jamestown Virginia colony in 1607 (more than 400 years ago).

Other contractors and civilians who filled military roles in American history (and this is just scratching the surface) were Miles Standish (landed with the Pilgrims in MA in 1621), most of American naval power during both the War fro independence and the War of 1812, Von Steuben and Lafayette during our first war with Britain, the expedition against the Barbary Pirates in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Davy Crockett and most of the guys who died at the Alamo, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which both collected intelligence for the Union and provided a protective detail for President Lincoln during our Civil War, and, skipping forward to the 1940s, the Flying Tigers, Charles Lindbergh (he flew more than 50 combat missions with both the USAAF and USMC in the Pacific Theater, and shot down several Japanese planes as a civilian aviation consultant), etc. etc. This is far from some sinister phenomenon started by Bush and Cheney in 2002.

America has a relationship with contractors and civilian military consultants that is more than 400 years old. Older than the United States by far. Hollywood, the media, and liberal mouth breathers should study history before they run their mouths and act the fool.

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showpost.php?p=4665240&postcount=23
 

h-p

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Well that is obvious but why Finland in particular for heavens sake?

Some people who end up in here are first trying to go to Sweden/Norway but are turned back. So they try the next country...
 

tigger

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It is a good thing that the judge did not share your views.
He didn't call them heroes either. It was thrown out because of a botched prosecution effort with no physical evidence. Not because they were innocent.

A little of the history between America and contractors.
That's all well and good. But none of it changes what happened in Nisoor Square 2 years ago.
 

MadCat360

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I believe the term you're looking for are war criminals ;)

No, warfighters. We don't know if they're guilty, therefore we can't accurately call them war criminals. They could be guilty, could not be. We'll never know now.
 

freeferrarisdonotexist

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Here's a thought for anyone who watches The Office:

George Bush was Michael Scott.

The parallels are actually there. Both appear somewhat bumbling and incompetent but attempt to be nice to people. Both say very stupid/inappropriate things, but do so unintentionally. Both hold their position of power based on slogans/etc, even though they have some actual experience and knowledge at their jobs. And both would probably try to be good friends and nice to "have a beer with".

Am I insane or does this make sense?
:lol:
 

jetsetter

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He didn't call them heroes either. It was thrown out because of a botched prosecution effort with no physical evidence. Not because they were innocent.


That's all well and good. But none of it changes what happened in Nisoor Square 2 years ago.

Compare your two statements. What exactly do we know with no physical evidence?
 

AiR

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It is a good thing that the judge did not share your views.
No, warfighters. We don't know if they're guilty, therefore we can't accurately call them war criminals. They could be guilty, could not be. We'll never know now.
Oh but that [war criminals] is what they will be called in the arab countries. Along with other pretty nicknames like infidels and crusaders.

It'll make it easier to make all muslims look like a bunch of freespeach-hating Afghan mullahs who'd rather have sharia for breakfast than a boiled egg.
Yup, and in Denmark of all places. Pia Kj?rsgaard couldnt have wished for a better new years present.

I went to sleep last night thinking about the immigration issue and came up with this little scheme. Let's put asylum seekers on probation. Starting a new life is tough and takes time, so we'll set the bar at 10 years. If anyone in your family is convicted of a violent crime within these 10 years (or should we make it 5?), it's bye-bye. This builds peer pressure to keep in line, and we get rid of the people who are only here for a free lunch. People who say that they don't want to learn the language, people who instead of fleeing war and religious persecution wants to bring this with them.

I've met many immigrants who have fled from unimaginable horrors, hard working and eager to adapt and start a better life. Nenad, Maryam, Hussein, all honest and fair people. They are not the problem, the free lunch people are. Until we from the left side of the spectrum start talking about the issue, Pia Kj?rsgaard, Jimmie ?kesson and Siv Jensen and other right wing crazys will continue to gather ever greater support.
 
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DAJames

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Since when do democracies privatise war fighting? Bloody private army - not a good thing at all.

I see what you're getting at here. Because pulling troops from forward lines to do the job that a contractor can accomplish is both efficient and practical for the modern army.


:rolleyes:
 
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