The Justice Department accused Blackwater Worldwide contractors in Baghdad of an "'unprovoked and illegal attack'" on unarmed Iraqi civilians last year that killed at least 14 and wounded 20, according to documents released by DOJ and a Post story by Del Wilber.
"One man was shot in the chest while he raised his arms in the air, prosecutors said. Another was wounded when a contractor's grenade detonated in a nearby girls school, and 'many were shot inside of civilian vehicles while attempting to flee,' prosecutors said in bringing federal manslaughter charges against the guards in the Sept. 16, 2007, shooting," Wilber's story said.
"'None of the victims of this shooting were armed,'" said Jeffrey A. Taylor, U.S. attorney for the District, who announced the 35-count indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Washington. "None of them was an insurgent," the story said.
Five Blackwater guards were charged with voluntary manslaughter and related counters. A sixth pleaded guilty on Friday to voluntary manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter.
It looks like the department is working toward justice in the case. But that's likely not so, at least according to a searing piece by Post columnist Gene Robinson.
Robinson contends that "it's probably the exact opposite -- a whitewash that absolves the government and corporate officials who should bear ultimate responsibility."
He notes that prosecutors claimed that those involved in the "unprovoked attacks will be held accountable." But he asks: What about the company, which was not charged? What about the policy makers, who opened the way to the unprecedented use of contractors in the war? What about the government?
How are they being held accountable?
"As with the torture and humiliation of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, our government is deflecting all scrutiny from the corporate higher-ups who employed the guards -- to say nothing of the policymakers whose decisions made the shootings possible, if not inevitable," Robsinson writes.
"Putting national security in the hands of private companies and private soldiers was bad practice from the start, and incidents such as what happened at Nisoor Square are the foreseeable result. The five Blackwater guards may have fired the weapons, but they were locked and loaded in Washington."
What do you think? Is this fair?
Michael Lent, the editor and publisher of Government Services Insider, had some thoughts about this. Here's an excerpt:
"Contracting is a necessity--we don't have the forces and don't want to put them there--when you deploy American power. If you put a brake on contracting, you limit our ability to deploy; in the Iraq case, that might have had an upside--but we can't leave the troops there now unsupported and unprotected. As prosecutions and investigations have shown, we will have some element of criminality and waste among the large numbers of US civil servants, military members, and contractors in Iraq. I believe that the new administration and the government services industry have the means and the intent of stepping up resolution of the serious problems that have arisen in Iraq contracting."
By Robert O'Harrow |
December 9, 2008; 12:08 PM ET
Previous: Thomas Frank Calls for End of "Contractor Welfare Binge" | Next: Some Contractors Not Getting Rich
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: deedee985 | December 10, 2008 11:03 AM
Posted by: ChicagoJohn | December 10, 2008 11:10 AM
Posted by: axolotl | December 10, 2008 12:21 PM
Posted by: ChicagoJohn | December 11, 2008 12:21 PM
Posted by: axolotl | December 11, 2008 12:59 PM
Posted by: mikehaas | December 11, 2008 3:00 PM
Posted by: rjpittya | December 12, 2008 2:21 PM
Posted by: emax1 | December 12, 2008 5:30 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.