A month ago, most major, corporate media outlets ignored the sworn statements of two former Blackwater employees, one of whom — identified in court papers as John Doe #2 — alleged that the company’s owner Erik Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince’s companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life." Most media outlets ignored the numerous, specific allegations contained in the sworn affidavit of John Doe #1 about Blackwater operatives shooting at defenseless civilians — most of them based on John Doe #1’s personal experience working in Iraq for Blackwater.
Now, it is not just former employees making these allegations.
On September 7, federal prosecutors in Washington DC submitted papers in the criminal case against five Blackwater operatives for their alleged role in the 2007 Nisour Square shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others. Blackwater forces "fired at innocent Iraqis not because they actually believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury and actually believed that they had no alternative to the use of deadly force, but rather that they fired at innocent Iraqi civilians because of their hostility toward Iraqis and their grave indifference to the harm that their actions would cause," the acting US Attorney in DC, Channing Phillips, alleges in court papers submitted by Kenneth C. Kohl, the lead prosecutor on this case. "[T]he defendants specifically intended to kill or seriously injure the Iraqi civilians that they fired upon at Nisour Square."
The allegation that stands out most in the court filing, as Mother Jones noted, is this one against one of the Nisour Square defendants:
During the twelve months preceding the events charged in the indictment, while assigned to the Raven 23 convoy operating at various locations in the Red Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, defendant Nicholas Slatten made statements that he wanted to kill as many Iraqis as he could as "payback for 9/11," and he repeatedly boasted about the number of Iraqis he had shot… [During these 12 months,] Slatten deliberately fired his weapon to draw out return fire and instigate gun battles in a manner that was inconsistent with the use of force and escalation of force policies that governed Blackwater personnel in Iraq.
Here are some other key excerpts from the court document:
- [T]he United States will seek to introduce evidence that in the year leading up to the events of September 16, 2007, several of the defendants had harbored a deep hostility toward Iraqi civilians which they demonstrated in words and deeds. The defendants’ demonstrated hostility toward Iraqi civilians bears directly on the defendants’ respective states of mind when they fired rounds at innocent civilians at Nisour Square on September 16, 2007. In addition to verbal expressions of hatred towards Iraqi civilians, the defendants engaged in unprovoked and aggressive behavior toward unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. In so doing, the defendants routinely acted in disregard of the use of force policies that they were required to follow as a condition of their employment as Blackwater guards.
- During the twelve months preceding the events charged in the indictment, while assigned to a turret gun position on the Raven 23 convoy operating at various locations in the Red Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, defendants Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten and Evan Liberty routinely threw water bottles and other items at unarmed civilians, vehicles, wagons, and bicycles without justification in an attempt to break automobile windows, injure and harass people, and for sport, and in a manner that was inconsistent with the use of force and escalation of force policies that governed Blackwater personnel in Iraq. Among the items thrown were frozen oranges and frozen water bottles.
- On or about May 23, 2007, in the vicinity of Amanat City Hall in Baghdad, Iraq, near an intersection of the city known to Blackwater personnel as "Grey 55," defendant Evan Liberty discharged an automatic weapon from the turret of a Blackwater armored vehicle without aiming the weapon, and without regard for who might be struck by the rounds, and in a manner that was inconsistent with the use of force and escalation of force policies that governed all Blackwater personnel in Iraq.
- On or about September 9, 2007, in the vicinity of Amanat City Hall in Baghdad, Iraq, near an intersection of the city known to Blackwater personnel as "Grey 55," defendant Evan Liberty discharged an automatic weapon from a port hole of a Blackwater armored vehicle, while driving that vehicle, without aiming the weapon, and without regard for who might be struck by the rounds, and in a manner that was inconsistent with the use of force and escalation of force policies that governed all Blackwater personnel in Iraq.
It is also significant that federal prosecutors reject any suggestion by Blackwater or the defendants in this case that the men at Nisour Square acted in self-defense in response to an attack by "insurgents," as Blackwater alleged from day one. "None of these victims was an insurgent, and many were shot while inside of civilian vehicles that were attempting to flee" Blackwater’s operatives, prosecutors allege.
Will corporate news outlets pick up this story now?