Following the 2009 coup in Honduras, comics journalist Dan Archer embarked on a three-part graphic history of the event, which we posted at PULSE.
Archer has recently put together an interactive comic on the subject of the 2007 Nisoor Square Shootings in Baghdad, for which he provides the following background:
“In late 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were killed and at least 24 wounded after a convoy of Blackwater (the US military contractor) vehicles opened fire in Nisoor square, claiming their convoy had come under attack.
Charges were brought against the men, but subsequently—and controversially—dismissed. The case was re-opened in January 2011.”
Visit the Cartoon Movement website to view more background in comic form and for simple instructions on participating in Archer’s interactive timeline of the event—an innovative creation that incorporates various eyewitness testimony as well as other reports.
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.
In a series of reports for The Nation in November and December of 2009, Scahill revealed that “members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives” both inside and outside of Pakistan. Despite public indictments, Blackwater continues to work for the State Department without oversight.
From The Nation’s press release (You can watch Democracy Now’s interview with Jeremy Scahill here):
In a stunning investigation just posted at TheNation.com, Jeremy Scahill reveals a covert military operation being run almost entirely by Blackwater, USA, a military contractor embroiled in controversy for their actions in Iraq and the Middle East. Key points from the piece:
An elite division of Blackwater, USA is running a covert, US Military operation that includes planning targeted assassinations, “snatch and grabs” and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. This is a program that not even some Senior Level Obama Administration and Pentagon officials are aware of.
Blackwater operatives are assisting in gathering intelligence to help run a secret, second and heretofore unreported, US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.
Sources for The Nation report that some non-military Blackwater employees, outside of the US Military chain of command, have obtained rolling security clearances above their approved clearances, and higher than even members of the US Congress.