Blackwater Bailed Out
Excuse me for my skepticism about the New Year’s Eve decision by federal judge Ricardo Urbina to throw out the charges against five former Blackwater operatives who were accused of killing 14 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad in 2007. Announced just after midnight Iraq time and into media oblivion as most of us were getting ready for the Big Night, the decision (at least temporarily) is a bailout for the worst offender of the private contractors used by the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan and is an insult to Iraqis who might actually support U.S. efforts in their country. It was easy to suspect that Urbina was some sort of leftover from the corrupt Alberto Gonzales legacy of political appointments, but he was actually appointed by Bill Clinton and has a record that would suggest he is far from a Republican tool. His legal reasoning seems competent at first glance, which begs the question: Why did the prosecution make such a glaring error in the alleged illegal coercion of their attempts to collect evidence against the Blackwater operatives? Jeremy Scahill suggested that Blackwater founder Richard Prince had “graymailed” the U.S. government in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. The curious timing of this decision seems to be masking the government’s motivation to prevent any further complicated relationships between private contractors and intelligence organizaitons like the CIA from being revealed.