Friday, January 08, 2010

Once more on Judge Ricardo Urbina's Blackwater decision

In Baghdad on Thursday, a shooting victim who has not settled said he still wanted the guards prosecuted in criminal court.
"Iraqi blood is not that cheap," said Mehdi Abu Zaman, 45, who said he lost his sight after being shot. "The civil suit is not enough. There is no justification for this. If they gave me all the money in the world, my vision will not come back."
Another wounded man, Sami Hawas Hamoud Abu Iz, told the Associated Press that the company had offered $100,000 to each family of a person who died and $30,000 to those wounded. He said plaintiffs' lawyers told victims they might not receive anything if they did not agree to a settlement.
Phone and e-mail messages for Susan L. Burke, a Washington lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, were not returned.

The above is from David Zucchino's "Iraqis settle lawsuits over Blackwater shootings" (Los Angeles Times) and we've got to again return to the topic because there's so much misinformation out there. Not referring to Zucchino's straight-forward article. And we covered Urbina's decision repeatedly at the end of last week. But others, like Amy Goodman, can't be bothered explaining the decision. For example, in a headline, she'll sulk and pout one day, then the next toss out prosecutorial abuse in her spoken words. She'll do a bad segment 'on' the decision that refuses to explore it and its actual, lasting meaning to instead offer up conspiracy theories and pretend she's somehow informed her audience of a damned thing.

So let's walk through it again. Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) offers a reaction to Justice Ricardo Urbina's decision:

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the US Justice Department, said the department was "obviously disappointed by the decision". He said the department was "still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options" in the 90-page ruling. Neither the White House nor the State Department reacted to the dismal ruling or explained what their next step is.
The Iraqi government's response was not less pathetic. Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said on Monday his government would launch lawsuits in US and Iraqi courts against Blackwater rejecting the US judge's decision to throw out charges. In a statement his office said the government "rejects the ruling issued by the American court acquitting the company of the crime of killing a number of citizens."
Despite the deadly shooting and a string of other violations the Iraqi government still allows the company to work in Iraq. The Iraqi government failed to move to ban the company sticking to its earlier promise that it would not renew Blackwater's licence to operate there when it expires in May.

Hemeid does not appear to understand Urbino's decision (very few have bothered to explain it) and he doesn't understand how US elections work nor what was promised. Later on, he will weigh in that Hillary should be held to her 2008 campaign promise. Hillary ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. She did not get that nomination. Any promise she made for what she would do as president died when she didn't the nomination, that's reality, try grasping it. She is now Secretary of State. She does not decide policy or control the administration. If Blackwater mattered to anyone as an election issue -- this includes the increasingly CIA friendly 'author' of a Blackwater book -- then they should have supported Hillary's campaign. Instead they ran interference for Barack -- this includes the increasingly CIA friendly 'author' of a Blackwater book -- who, pay attention, made no real promises re: Blackwater. The CIA dupe or payroll added, for example, got cozy with Sammy Power and began 'reporting' from her view leading her to brag to the Obama campaign that they tell her what they wanted out there and she'd get it out there. Duped by Sammy Power, he's probably now being duped by the CIA (and notice how he knits a stitch only to pull it apart in the next article).

Charles McDermid and Abeer Muhammad (Asia Times) unintentionally provide an example of how to confuse the issue:

The incident's infamous reputation added to the anger last week when Iraqis learned of a US court's decision to dismiss a federal case against the five Blackwater employees charged with 14 counts of voluntary manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter for the Nisour Square shooting.
The subsequent announcement on Thursday that Blackwater, now "re-branded" under the commercial name Xe, had reached out-of-court compensation settlements in seven outstanding civil cases for the use of excessive violence and killings of Iraqis has brought relief to some. An early report by al-Jazeera quoted one victim as calling the as-yet-undisclosed settlement "a victory against the Blackwater firm".
[. . .]
"The American court's decision is a clear violation of human rights. The incident in Nisour Square was a crime against humanity which deserves serious punishment not a settlement," said Ali Raheem al-Asadi, of the rights group Iraqi Foundation. "It is bizarre to have such criminals exonerated by a country that presents itself as advocating for human rights everywhere."

After 20 paragraphs, the authors finally note the decision. After 20 paragraphs. And after you've waded 20 paragraphs of absurdity, you might expect that the verdict itself would result in more than one paragraph and serious examination but you would be wrong. As for the claim by Iraqi Foundation file it under the same S**T that the country's Human Rights Minister served up last week. People might try learning something before opening their mouths. I'm really not in the mood for this garbage or a left that falls silent -- which is what happened when everyone returned from their vacations this week.

Judge Ricardo Urbina made a sound decision, in fact, his ruling was the only way a judge could have gone and upheld the law. The prosecution (the Justice Dept) based their case -- didn't just use which would have been enough to toss the charges to begin with -- on statements that the accused made during a State Dept investigation when they were offered immunity for their co-operation. They were told the statements made to the State Dept investigators (US government) could not be used against them. Having cooperated, the accused then found the Justice Dept (US government) using those statements in a case against them.

That's prosecutorial misconduct and it demands that any charges be dismissed. It also should have resulted in a public investigation within the Justice Dept and a few heads should roll over that.

At least 17 people died in the 2007 Baghdad slaughter. That's a misfortune and a crime. A larger crime would take place if the US government was allowed to ignore and break the law to secure a conviction. This is not something minor.

And it's a sign of how phony so many on the left have become (Amy Goodman being only one example) that they continue to refuse to explore the issues involved.

We do not want the US government to go after people with such 'zeal' that they break the law. If they break the law, they, more than other body or person, needs to be held accountable because the US government has all the resources and all the power. If they break the law in pursuing a conviction, the case needs to be tossed out and, yes, that is justice at work. 17 people are dead, that's sad and it's a misfortune. But it would be a travesty of justice if Judge Urbina had waived through the prosecutions.

When you say it's okay for the government to break the laws, you can't turn around and after and say, "Well, not anymore." The law is either upheld or it's not. Blackwater's not 'popular' so some refuse to get it. Including a number of people who would be screaming their heads off if this were another case and Urbina had allowed it to go through. They'd be whining, "Unfair! Wrong!"

And it would be wrong. It is wrong under any circumstances to allow the US government to break the laws in pursuing a criminal conviction. That's ignoring not only the law but the beliefs that the US judicial system is based upon.

The five accused walk. That's what's supposed to happen in this situation. Did they intentionally kill Iraqi citizens? We don't know. I suspect they did. But we do know that the government refused to play by the rules and follow the law. When the government did that, a bigger crime took place and if Judge Urbina hadn't called that crime out, it would be a lot harder for the next judge to. You either believe the US government is bound by the same laws as the defense or you don't. If you don't, then you're assisting a government in its move towards a totalitarian state because you're saying: The government can do whatever it wants to pursue a conviction and should not be held accountable.

Back to the dupe. A number of e-mails ask if I'm aware that he's rewriting/revising and stealing. Yes, I am aware. That's part of his knitting a stitch and then unraveling it. However, to be clear, he's not stealing from me. I made one comment (a few sentences) on the issue at Third. Elaine and Mike also made comments in that roundtable at Third and Elaine had already written extensively on the topic at her site. He's stealing from Elaine, not me. If it were from me, I'd just ignore it and we wouldn't mention it but to steal from my friend? Oh, I'm not going to be silent there. The hideous Scott Horton (whom Rebecca nailed for his failure to either comprehend or be able to explain Urbina's verdict -- had to rush to conspiracies instead) is also pushing that nonsense. Why are they pushing it? Because Elaine pointed out that Dupe was being a tool (knowingly or not) of the CIA and pushing the version of events the CIA wants pushed. She also explained that were she a CIA asset (she'd never be one) and had become the target of the CIA's ire so that they were no burning her, she'd make sure they grasped she'd take them down with her so they'd back off. There's nothing controversial about Elaine's statements (and many a great film has a similar basis -- see Robert Redford 3 Days of the Condor, for example). Once Elaine made that suggestion, Dupe and Horton began to insist, "That's what Erik Prince is doing!!!!" No, that's not what he did with Vanity Fair. If he's smart, that's what he will do. But he has not publicly sent a message thus far.

By the way, let's underscore how lazy Horton and Dupe are. They took what Elaine said Prince should do and they now present it as fact. In the same roundtable referenced in the paragraph before, Mike talked of the rumors that the CIA used Blackwater as part of a money laundering scheme. This is the first time this has appeared here because I'm just not interested in the topic. But when Mike brought that up, I did weigh in during Third's roundtable to back him up because that is the DC chatter on the social scene. So Horton and Dupe take Elaine's public advice to Prince and present it as what Prince is doing but with a solid lead that would require work (Mike's comments), they take a pass? Either they don't want to do the work or Dupe isn't being led to that aspect of the story by his handlers.

On the topic of Elaine. Last night's "I Hate The War . . ." included "It's why Norman Solomon continues to preach 'elect Dems' as the answer." That sentence should have had a link to Elaine's post on Monday. I thought I had put it in but I see I didn't. (I'll add it after this goes up.) And Amanda e-mailed on "I Hate The War . . ." to ask when ". . ." became part of the title? Good question. I was in Blogdrive already (to post at the mirror site) and when the 'form' popped up for it, I went to enter the title and it has 'auto remember' or something. I was tired and wanted to be done and didn't puzzle over it, just took the ". . ." over to the title in Blogspot. We'll go back to just "I Hate The War" next Thursday.

The following community sites updated last night:

Cedric's Big Mix
10 hours ago

The Daily Jot
10 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Barack needs his beauty sleep
10 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
it's not always about bush
10 hours ago

Another setback for equality
10 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Who suffers?
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
E.P.A. pressures Diane Rehm not to cover mountaintop mining
10 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
Those shows with bad ratings . . .
10 hours ago

The World Today Just Nuts
Baby Bully Boy
10 hours ago

Ann's Mega Dub
KFPA's Morning Show tries to play catch up
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Meanwhile in England . . .
10 hours ago

Radio notes. From The Bat Segundo Show:

Happy New Year from The Bat Segundo Show! The cultural radio program, featuring unusual and insightful interviews with today's authors, filmmakers, and cultural voices, has released four new installments for your listening pleasure. In addition, the show has now returned to a weekly schedule, where new episodes will be released every Friday.
These new installments (in no particular order) include a bilingual chat with the legendary filmmaker Michael Haneke (#316), who discusses his latest film The White Ribbon, a conversation with biographer Terry Teachout (BSS #314) about Louis Armstrong and the early days of jazz, a hard-hitting colloquy with journalist Ken Auletta (BSS #315) about the insides of Google, and a return appearance from Katharine Weber (BSS #317), which somehow manages to work in candy, the Madagascar Plan, and fixed societal positions.
Mr. Segundo's condition continues to vary. His introductory appearances are becoming more infrequent and, in at least one instance, he appears to have surrendered his introductory duties to a amateur DJ operating somewhere in California. But we understand that his energies are presently directed for a defense of his questionable tactics, which will be unveiled in a future program.
The main Segundo site can be found here:
To subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:
On the main site, there is also a black box that is rather large but friendly, should you desire to subscribe to the show via iTunes.
Please note: You do not have to have an iPod to listen the show! If you go to the main Segundo site, you can save the MP3 to your lovely machine by clicking on the bat picture or, if you're the kind of person who prefers swinging a bat over clicking on one, we do have a user-friendly interface with many listening and streaming options below the capsules.
Here are links to the new shows:
SHOW #314 -- Terry Teachout (38:28)
Direct Link to Show:
Five Second Excerpt: "Armstrong’s file contains nothing of any interest because he didn’t play at political benefits. I mean, the FBI was aware of the fact that he used marijuana."
* * *
SHOW #315 -- Ken Auletta (54:41)
Direct Link to Show:
Five Second Excerpt: "Larry is fixated on 150. It’s the size of cafeterias."
* * *
SHOW #316 -- Michael Haneke (28:09)
Direct Link to Show:
Five Second Excerpt: "The film is the ski jump and it’s up to the spectator to jump."
* * *
SHOW #317 -- Katharine Weber (36:21)
Direct Link to Show:
Five Second Excerpt: "This is a novel about chocolate, chocolate, chocolate — chocolate grows within twenty degrees of the equator all the way around the globe. And some of the finest chocolate on this planet comes from Madagascar."
* * *
Thanks again for listening!
The Bat Segundo Crew

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends