Friday, January 01, 2010


BAGHDAD – Iraqis seeking justice for 17 people shot dead at a Baghdad intersection responded with bitterness and outrage Friday at a U.S. judge's decision to throw out a case against a Blackwater security team accused in the killings.

The Iraqi government vowed to pursue the case, which became a source of contention between the U.S. and the Iraqi government. Many Iraqis also held up the judge's decision as proof of what they'd long believed: U.S. security contractors were above the law.

"There is no justice," said Bura Sadoun Ismael, who was wounded by two bullets and shrapnel during the shooting. "I expected the American court would side with the Blackwater security guards who committed a massacre in Nisoor Square."

What happened on Nisoor Square on Sept. 16, 2007, raised Iraqi concerns about their sovereignty because Iraqi officials were powerless to do anything to the Blackwater employees who had immunity from local prosecution. The shootings also highlighted the degree to which the U.S. relied on private contractors during the Iraq conflict.

But look at the judge who arrived at this painful decision:
Ricardo M. Urbina
Notable cases
[edit] Guantanamo Bay detainees

Urbina presided over a number of habeas corpus petitions submitted on behalf of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[3] In October 2008, he ordered the release of a small group of Uighur detainees from Guantanamo into the United States because they are no longer regarded as enemy combatants.[4]
[edit] Saeed Hatim v. Barack Obama

On December 16, 2009 Urbina ordered Guantanamo captive "Saeed Hatim" to be released.[5] According to Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald Urbina's release order was sealed, and it "brought the so-called habeas corpus scorecard to 32 losses and nine victories by the Pentagon of detainee challenges from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." Dean Boyd, a Department of Justice spokesman, told Rosenberg the Government was reviewing its options in how to react to the ruling.
[edit] Blackwater Baghdad shootings prosecution

A month before five Blackwater security guards implicated in the September, 2007, Nisour Square, Baghdad, shooting incident were to go on trial before Judge Urbina, on New year's Eve, in a 90-page ruling on December 31, 2009, Judge Urbina did not address the substance of the case but said prosecutors had misused statements made by the defendants under promise of immunity. DOJ spokesman Boyd said the government was considering its options. The immunity issue was a problem that lawyers for the government anticipated as long as a year ago when they briefed Congress on the matter. Judge Urbina dismissed the indictment of the five men who pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter and firearms violations: Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, Donald Ball and Nicholas Slatten.[6]

Dozens of Iraqis, including the estates of some of the victims allegedly killed by Blackwater employees, filed a separate lawsuit last year alleging that Blackwater employees engaged in indiscriminate killings and beatings. The civil case is still before a Virginia court. Blackwater contractors had been hired to guard US 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.
Following the letter of the law makes us protect bad guys and idiots along with good guys and smart people.... And we should not have it any other way.

Update: Iraq is going to sue the Blackwater guards involved in the massacre.

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