Five Blackwater guards accused of shooting 14 Iraqis civilians are headed to court to answer for their crimes. The five hoped to move their trial to Utah but their request was denied. They will stand or fall in Washington, D.C.
A federal indictment unsealed yesterday charges the men with voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and weapons violations. Moving the case to more conservative, pro-gun Utah might have boosted the defendants’ chances of a sympathetic jury.
As we’ve noted previously, this is shaping up as a precedent-setting case. The accused shooters were working under contract to the U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said the indictment represented the first case where non-Department of Defense Contractors would be charged under the Military Extraterritorial Judiciary Act. That law originally allowed for prosecution of civilian contractors who commit crimes while working for the U.S. Department of Defense overseas; in 2004, the law was amended to expand its reach to non-Defense Department contractors who support military missions abroad.
KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.
KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?
CHENEY: I don’t.
KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported was waterboarding. And that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that you think was appropriate?
CHENEY: I do.
The United States is in for a worldwide reckoning and I don’t know if Barack Obama will be able to undo the untoward damage done to innocents abroad in the name of preventing terrorism at home.