Saturday, January 02, 2010

Winning Hearts & MInds in Baghdad?

Remember Blackwater? Straight out of Hollywood's TV series "24". Remember 5 Blackwater types shot and killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 more and got sued?

From today's Washington Post: --

..."The shootings, in which the guards allegedly opened fire with grenade launchers and machine guns on civilians in a busy Baghdad traffic circle, became to many Iraqis a symbol of U.S. disregard for their lives. Seventeen people were killed in the attack and 27 were wounded, but prosecutors said they did not have sufficient evidence to press charges on behalf of all the victims...

..."U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina threw out the indictments because he found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements the guards had provided to the State Department with the understanding that the statements would not be used against them. An attorney for the guards has said they fired in self-defense.

Iraqis described the decision as unfathomable.

"They're letting the criminals who killed and burned people inside their cars escape? How can I forget what they did to my body with bullets, and the dear part of me that they took," said Mahdi Abdul Khudor, 45, who lost an eye in the shooting and suffered other wounds. "I'll be ready to reconcile with the Americans when they bring me back my eye."

The Iraqi government also protested and said it will pursue legal action.

"What happened yesterday confirms that the trial was biased," said Ali Adeeb, a lawmaker and top adviser to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. "This was an unreasonable, criminal operation, and there should have been justice."

The entire report is here.

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