Murderous goons. Getty Image
In “a tragic day all over again,” our mass murdering Sociopath-In-Chief with a deep affinity for other mass murdering sociopaths just condoned “Iraq’s My Lai massacre” when he pardoned the four Blackwater thugs who in a pointless rampage in 2007 slaughtered 17 innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s busy Nisour Square; they also wounded over 20 more. By freeing some of the very few American war criminals actually brought to justice with a blithe, malignant swipe of his pen, Trump undid the FBI’s largest, stubbornest, most expensive criminal investigation since 9/11 in which over 70 witnesses, including 30 from Iraq, testified in a grueling, seven-year-long legal battle, leading many to argue that anyone who’d release these lethal criminals – never mind all those crooks and grifters – is by any reasonable measure even more of a lethal criminal. “I considered these trials one of the proudest accomplishments of the DC US Attorney’s Office,” wrote legal analyst and longtime former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner. “Today, Trump killed justice.”
The four Blackwater mercenaries – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten – were part of an armored convoy that senselessly, indiscriminately opened fire with machine-guns, grenade launchers and a sniper; most of those killed or wounded were in their cars, or trying to run away, including one man repeatedly shot even as he lay “in a pool of his blood.” They shot a 9 and 11-year-old, a mother and her infant, a policeman, a 70-year-old farmer and father of seven in the head, a woman doctor in the head, a 25-year-old taxi driver, shot in the back, who died in the hallway of the hospital pleading for water. “Anything that moved (was) shot,” said Hassan Jaber Salman, a lawyer who survived the attack with his son, during the 2014 trial. “Women, children, young people, they shot everyone.”
At the trial, Erik Prince, Blackwater CEO and slimy war profiteer to the tune of a $1 billion government contract, testified that his goons, who’d twice disobeyed orders to stay in the Green Zone, were ambushed by insurgents, and all that death could have been from “ricochets, or traffic accidents…This is war.” Dozens of witnesses contradicted him; so did a Congressional report finding that for years Blackwater overwhelmingly fired first and asked questions later. The four were convicted of almost all 32 charges: Slatten, who started the shooting, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life; the others were found guilty of manslaughter and given 20 years by a judge who declaimed, “We hold our armed forces and contractors accountable for their actions” – at least until a mobster pardons them. Despite a White House claim the move had broad support, the world was horrified by a “deep subversion of justice,” especially given the recent execution spree, that will only undermine national security and the rule of law.
It also confirms the bitter Iraqi conviction that, to America, “our blood is cheaper than water.” “How are these criminals released after they killed 17 innocent people?” asks one furious Iraqi, who says even his own chaotic, ravaged country wouldn’t allow such injustice, and so much for America’s talk of human rights: “They prefer animals over humans.” Mohammed Kinani believed in American justice – until Blackwater goons kept shooting in Nisour Square “with cold blood and stone hearts” for no apparent reason; until they shot in the head his adored nine-year-old son Ali, who always slept using his father’s arm as a pillow; until he opened the car door, and chunks of Ali’s brain fell on the ground, and he started to scream, “They killed my son”; until the frantic ambulance ride as Ali, the day’s youngest victim, his heart still beating, convulsed and died – “What can I say? It was like the end of days. My son, who had never slept alone” – and until Trump, after Mohammed spent years grieving and testifying and seeking justice, pardoned Ali’s killers, just like that. “He broke my life again,” he says. “He broke the law. He broke everything.”
Though 17 Iraqis died in the massacre, the case against Blackwater only counted 14 under U.S. law. They were: Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, 9, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, 11, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, 18, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, 21, Mahdi Sahib Nasir, 26, Uday Ismail Ibrahiem, 27, Hamoud Sa’eed Abttan, 33, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, 44, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, 47, Osama Fadhil Abbas, 52, Sa’adi Ali Abbas Alkarkh, 52, Ali Khalil Abdul Hussein, 54, Ghaniyah Hassan Ali, 55, Ibrahim Abid Ayash, 77. Say their names.
Blackwater thugs rightly found guilty of murder in 2014. Fom left Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough.
Ali, whose brain fragments his father picked up off the ground. Family photo
This post was originally published on Radio Free.