Sunday, December 07, 2008

Five Blackwater Accused To Turn Themselves In

The Assiociated Press reports the 5 to-be-indicted Blackwater guards will surrender in Utah. The five men were involved with the 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. They will turn themselves in to the FBI on Monday. The men have been identified as Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Nick Slatten, Paul Slough and Evan Liberty.

The FBI investigation revealed members of Blackwater fired the only shots. The Iraqi government may file a civil suit against the Blackwater company.

Legal problems will a rise because members of Blackwater have immunity deals with the State Department.

Some legal scholars and the defense lawyers have argued that the law does not apply to the Blackwater guards because they were working for the State Department. Such a position was buttressed by the Congressional Budget Office in a report in August that said the law does not apply to civilians working for agencies other than the Defense Department.

Prosecutors are likely to argue that a 2005 amendment to the law expanded it to include contractors "supporting the mission of the Department of Defense." Prosecutors could argue that Blackwater security guards were helping the military by protecting State Department officials, legal experts have said.

The State Department wants nothing to do with the indicted men.

The State Department says its agents did not offer blanket immunity from criminal prosecution but only promised statements the guards made on the scene could not be used against them in any prosecution.

But when the investigation was turned over to the Justice Department to examine possible criminal activity, FBI agents discovered some guards believed they were immune from prosecution and therefore refused to be interviewed again, complicating the FBI investigation.

The State Department has covered for Blacwater for years. Blackwater has gotten into trouble with the Iraqi government and have fired upon U.S. military personal. State turned the case over to the Justice Department and is willing to allowed indictments. DoS could have claimed the Blackwater guards had immunity. State is saying the opposite.

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