The Iraqi government reacted with outrage today following yesterday’s announcement that a US district judge had ordered all charges dropped against five Blackwater contractors accused of roles in a 2007 Baghdad massacre.
Iraqi officials claimed astonishment and vowed to summon US officials at the first opportunity to demand that something be done. The contractors killed 17 unarmed civilians in a traffic jam in Baghdad’s Nisur Square, later claiming it was “self defense.”
For the Iraqi public the anger remains, and indeed never really stopped since September 2007. The official shock however is not, as the public was quite used to the idea that US troops and their allies could kill civilians with impunity and never expected anything better from the American justice system.
The judge ruled that the Justice Department mishandled evidence in the case and that the charges could no longer be filed, though he conceded that it was only a procedural problem with the charges and nothing to do with their veracity.
Blackwater, which has since changed its name to Xe Services to avoid the negative reputation from massacres like this one, praised the ruling as vindication for its “brave men” who were working for a “free, safe and democratic Iraq.” According to court documents, at least one of the contractors facing charges admitted that he wanted to kill Iraqi civilians to “get revenge for September 11.”
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