Biden Announces U.S. Decision to Appeal Blackwater Dismissal

In a press conference from Baghdad earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden has announced that the U.S. will appeal a district court’s decision to dismiss manslaughter charges against five Blackwater guards involved in a 2007 Baghdad shooting that killed 17 people including children.

When the court’s opinion in the case involving Blackwater was issued on December 31, 2009, Judge Ricardo Urbina premised his dismissal upon the following ‘facts’: 1) that the prosecution’s case was built upon sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity, and 2) that this action violated the guards’ constitutional rights. Based on this argument, he concluded that the prosecution’s explanations were “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”

What Judge Urbina’s decision confirms for us, is that contracting companies like Blackwater (now Xe) have historically been granted a ‘get out of jail free’ card due to government assurances of immunity. The devastating result of this: companies like Blackwater have been ‘allowed’ to kill, indeed to the extent that they may even confess to killing, without fear of recourse. Consequently, we see the implications of the abuse of power that Jeremy Scahill’s longstanding critique  – of the administration’s failure to exercise greater government oversight over private contractors like Blackwater –  is based upon.

While the government’s decision to appeal is both a positive and necessary response, it also invokes a degree of irony given what we know about the Obama administration’s record in not only embracing, but inventing new claims of  ‘sovereign immunity’ and ‘state secrets’.

We can hope that the prosecution will be more effective at the appeals level, but the reality is that the arguments will be a hard sell given the palpable contradictions in the administration’s political agenda.

2 thoughts on “Biden Announces U.S. Decision to Appeal Blackwater Dismissal”

  1. Finally, we get to hear Biden, who hates violence…I hope he can pursue this…the only thing I wonder, and I can’t offer a better title, but the title of this sounds like appealing the dismissal of blackwater being in the region, rather than appealing a judge who is letting blackwater get a “get out of jail free” card.

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