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“And then the situation turned violent”


The statement issued about the pardon of the unprovoked Blackwater mass murderers is…something:

These veterans were working in Iraq in 2007 as security contractors responsible for securing the safety of United States personnel. When the convoy attempted to establish a blockade outside the “Green Zone,” the situation turned violent, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths and injuries of Iraqi civilians. Initial charges against the men were dismissed, but they were eventually tried and convicted on charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence should have been presented at Mr. Slatten’s trial. Further, prosecutors recently disclosed—more than 10 years after the incident—that the lead Iraqi investigator, who prosecutors relied heavily on to verify that there were no insurgent victims and to collect evidence, may have had ties to insurgent groups himself.

“Unfortunate.” As a reminder, here’s what happened:

Investigators for the military and the FBI later described the shootings, in which the contractors unleashed a blaze of gunfire and grenade explosions in a busy Baghdad square, as unprovoked and unjustified. Federal prosecutors said that many of the victims, including women and children, some with their hands in the air, “were shot inside of civilian vehicles while attempting to flee.”

The incident came during a particularly dark period of the Iraq War and led to outcries in Iraq and the United States that private contractors — many of them former military personnel — were unsupervised and given unaccountable power in war zones.

There is literally no moral difference between pardoning these people and pardoning Dylann Roof, which Trump might do before his term is over.

And here’s another reason why Trump issued the pardon beyond his general commitment to fascist violence against people of color:

Then-vice president Joe Biden, speaking at a Baghdad news conference, expressed disappointment and said the Obama administration would appeal the decision.

“A dismissal is not an acquittal,” Biden said.

In subsequent years, as the case continued, the contractors became known in conservative media as the “Biden Four.”

While we’re here, let’s also discuss the wingnut judges (including, natch, Janice Rogers Brown) who behaved very badly:

A U.S. appeals court threw out Slatten’s conviction in 2017 on grounds that he should have been allowed to separate his case from the others. It also ordered resentencing for Slough, Liberty and Heard, saying that the 30-year terms violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Given the controlling doctrine the panel was supposed to applying — under which it does not violate the 8th Amendment to mete out a sentence of life without parole for simple possession of cocaine or 25-to-life for stealing three golf clubs — is absolutely absurd. And a yet another reminder that Trump is more symptom than cause.

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