On September 16, 2007, US hired Blackwater mercenaries murdered 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.
Without provocation, they opened fire on cars carrying families.
They had little reason to think they’d be held accountable. Washington grants so-called private military contractors (PMCs) blanket immunity.
Paul Bremer’s Order 17 authorized it. The exception proves the rule.
At the time of the slaughter, AFP said Blackwater personnel shot recklessly “at everything that moved with a machine gun and even with a grenade launcher (as well as from two hovering helicopters).”
“There was panic. Everyone tried to flee. Vehicles tried to make U-turns to escape.”
“There were dead bodies and wounded people everywhere. The road was full of blood.”
“A bus was also hit and several of its occupants were wounded.”
A daughter witnessing her mother shot in the head and killed said:
“They are killers. I swear to God, not one bullet was shot at them. Why did they shoot us?”
Last October, a federal district court in Washington found four Blackwater operatives guilty of mass murder.
They wounded over a dozen other Iraqis besides those killed in cold blood. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder.
Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty on multiple voluntary manslaughter counts, attempted manslaughter and various weapons offenses.
Slatten was sentenced to life imprisonment. The others got 30-year terms.
Lawyers for the four men said they’ll appeal. At trial, defendants ludicrously claimed they fired in self-defense. No evidence whatever corroborated it.
They murdered defenseless Iraqis in cold blood – thinking blanket immunity protected them.
Nearly always it does. It bears repeating. The exception proves the rule.
Before sentences were imposed, the father, mother and two brothers of a nine-year-old boy murdered made impassioned statements to Judge Royce Lamberth. The father said:
“Your decision today helps everyone to be human, to be fair and equal.”
“I want to see these people in jail to teach the other people a lesson, to show them what the law is.”
In sentencing, Judge Lamberth said “(t)he overall wild thing that went on here just cannot be condoned by the court.”
Defendants’ claims of innocence rang hollow. What happens on appeal remains to be seen.
Blackwater mercenaries are trained killers – hired for this purpose, operating largely out of sight, mind and accountability.
Other PMCs operate the same way – well-paid mercenary guns for hire, doing Washington’s dirty work.
In Iraq, Blackwater believed it could kill anyone with impunity. At trial, witnesses left no doubt mass murder was committed.
Former federal prosecutor T. Patrick Martin said “(w)hat happened on September 16, 2007 was nothing short of an atrocity.”
Iraq remains one of history’s great crimes. Washington bears full responsibility. Culpable US government and military officials remain unaccountable.
From January 1991 through today, US wars on Iraq raged. Sanctions imposed in the 1990s and early new millennium years killed around 1.5 million Iraqis.
Millions more perished from wars, other violence, preventable diseases, starvation and overall deprivation.
In 1998, UN humanitarian coordinator Denis Halliday resigned saying he “had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over one million individuals, children and adults.”
He estimated 5,000 monthly Iraqi children deaths alone – mostly aged five and under, genocide by any standard.
Decades of US imperial war on Iraq destroyed the cradle of civilization – including priceless artifacts as well as lives, welfare and futures of millions of Iraqis.
Ongoing genocide continues. Millions of Iraqi victims attest to US ruthlessness. Obama’s terror-bombing murders countless more Iraqis daily.
US imperial aims include controlling Iraq’s vast oil and gas resources.
They’re about making the world safe for war-profiteers.
Washington uses Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other extremist fighters as US proxies – at times as allies and enemies in different conflict theaters.
At issue is controlling this strategic part of the world. It involves disenfranchising whole populations.
It includes turning workers into serfs. It prioritizes capital’s divine right.
Mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human suffering are considered small prices to pay.
Rogue states operate this way. None match US ruthlessness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.