Pentagon Letter Complicates Blackwater Prosecution
A Pentagon determination two years ago that Blackwater security forces working for the State Department were not subject to U.S. civilian criminal laws now may undercut the Justice Department's case against five of the firm's guards for manslaughter.
That's according to a story by the Associated Press.
"The Pentagon wrote in 2007 that Blackwater Worldwide contractors in Iraq are not subject to U.S. civilian criminal laws. That position undercuts the Justice Department's effort to prosecute five Blackwater security guards for manslaughter.
"The letter highlights the uncertainty prosecutors face in bringing charges against contractors involved in a September 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead in a Baghdad intersection. Iraqis are closely watching how the U.S. responds to the shooting, which inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.
"Defense contractors can be prosecuted in U.S. courts for crimes committed overseas, but because of a legal loophole, contractors for other agencies can only face charges if their work assignments supported the Defense Department."
"Defense Department spokesman Chris Isleib said Monday that the views in the letter remain the view of the Defense Department.
"Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd disagreed.
"'The position taken by the Justice Department in the Blackwater prosecution is the position of the U.S. government,'" Boyd said.
Government Inc. wonders how we should feel about that. It seems that, at minimum, we need to recognize that this is another teachable moment about what can happen when the government outsources so much sensitive work.
In other words, unintended consequences from sweeping "procurement reform" that was supposed to make the government more efficient.
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