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January 24, 2010

DOJ Will Appeal Blackwater Ruling

Last month the case was dismissed because the prosecutors used coerced statements to bring the charges. The judge wrote a thorough 90 page decision (PDF) explaining where prosecutors went wrong. Obama's DOJ is not ready to give up the chance to convict Blackwater "mercenaries":

The government will appeal a court decision to dismiss charges against Blackwater security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday.

The U.S. federal court found last month that the defendants' constitutional rights had been violated, angering many Iraqis. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government has hired U.S. lawyers to prepare a law suit against Blackwater, a security contractor now called Xe Services.

With Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at his side at a Baghdad news conference, Biden expressed "personal regret" for the violence in a Baghdad traffic circle when Blackwater guards were accused of opening fire on innocent civilians.

Judge Urbina recently decided not to seek sanctions against the prosecutors, but it seems like it was a close call. This is just the latest of a half-dozen DOJ prosecutions that have been dismissed in the past two years for prosecutorial misconduct. The most notable of those dismissals was the corruption case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

Incidentally: I don't know whether they've been fairly accused or not. That's the problem with trying to turn a war-zone into a crime scene. Unlike a crime scene, it was impossible for investigators to contemporaneously interview witness, inspect the scene, recover evidence from the scene, or even bodies. The politically-motivated prosecution had almost no choice but to use their own statements against them.

And that ends the inquiry, as far as I'm concerned. The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination applies to the guilty as much as it does the innocent. In fact, it's of almost no use at all to the innocent, who necessarily do not need its protection. The prosecutors knew this, in fact they were warned several times by more experienced DOJ prosecutors, but went ahead anyway. Because of the many warnings they received, I'm disappointed that Judge Urbina decided not to sanction them.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:36 AM

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