Christianist owned mercenary firm Blackwater USA continues to have its legal problems as reported by the Virginian Pilot (http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=137755&ran=37751). Hopefully, the investigations will continue and those responsible for lawless and brutal conduct toward Iraqi civilians will be held to account. Sadly, I suspect Erik Prince will get off scott free, but one can hope not. On a related note, I do not find it at all comforting to know that some of these steroid pumped security characters are probably loose in this area. Here are some story highlights:
WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor's bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other "judgment altering substances."
The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of five Iraqis who were killed and two who were injured during the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The shootings enraged the Iraqi government, and the Justice Department is investigating whether it can bring criminal charges in the case, even though the State Department promised limited immunity to the Blackwater guards.
Additionally, the lawsuit notes: "One of Blackwater's own shooters tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing upon the crowd of innocent civilians but he was unsuccessful in his efforts." The civil complaint offers new details of the incident that has strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.
The Justice Department says it likely will be months before it decides whether it can prosecute the guards, and it is trying now to pinpoint how many shooters in the Blackwater convoy could face charges. A senior U.S. law enforcement official confirmed Tuesday that government investigators are looking at whether the Blackwater guards were authorized to be in the square at the time of the shooting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The civil lawsuit does not specify how much money the victims and their families are seeking from Blackwater, its 11 subsidiaries and founder, Erik Prince, all of whom are named as defendants. "We're looking for compensatory (damages) because the people who were killed were the breadwinners in their families," Burke said. "And we're looking for punitive in a manner that suffices to change the corporation's conduct. We have a real interest in holding them accountable for what were completely avoidable deaths."