Blackwater Five trial may be in Salt Lake

Five Blackwater Worldwide guards will surrender to FBI agents in Salt Lake City today for charges related to the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians including children in 2007. The five were indicted by a federal grand jury last week. Also this morning, CBS reports that the trial may take place in Salt Lake.

Reported on CBS.

(AP) The five Blackwater Worldwide guards indicted for a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting are all decorated military veterans who have served in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots.

According to lawyers for the guards, the men are: Donald Ball, a former Marine from Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn.; and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas. [snip]

Following the shooting, Blackwater became the subject of congressional hearings in Washington and insurgent propaganda videos in Iraq.

An Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said Baghdad welcomed any attempt to “hold the criminals accountable for their crime.”

In 2007, the U.S. State Department granted limited immunity to the guards in exchange for their statements.

In each of the statements, the guards begin by saying “I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry,” and that, “I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001.” [snip]

The immunity deal was granted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting by State Department officials in Iraq who were under intense pressure to quickly explain what happened in the face of allegations by Iraqi officials that the contractors murdered civilians in cold blood.

News of the immunity deal caught State Department officials in Washington off guard. “If anyone gave such immunity it was done so without consulting senior leadership at State,” a senior State Department official initially told ABC News. [A] State Department spokesman . . . said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is determined to hold anybody guilty of wrongdoing accountable.

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  1. #1 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 5:22 am


    Remember these soldiers are innocent until proven guilty so please do not lower yourself like the disgraced piece of human excrement, John Murtha did when he prejudged the heroes wrongfully accused in the Haditha incident by calling them “cold blooded killers”. Even after the soldiers were exonerated this traitor to his country, who has disgraced his own uniform and no longer is worthy to be called a Marine, has never apologized for his outrageous actions. Unfortunately, this low life scumbag got reelected even after he called his own voters racists and rednecks. I think by reelecting him they proved him right in that respect.

    If these soldiers did commit these atrocities then they should be tried and either be convicted if truly guilty or exonerated if they are truly innocent, but until it is decided they are owed our full respect and admired as heroes.

  2. #2 by Shane Smith on December 8, 2008 - 7:33 am

    Wow Ken, as upset as you are at Murtha I would hate to think what you would have to say to a serious war criminal who lied to an entire nation and is indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions. Lowlife, scum-bag, excrement. If these are terms for a man who is upset at people he may or may not have judged poorly, what do you say about a real traitor?

    No seriously, do explain what you think of “W.”

    Interestingly, you warn Becky to keep in mind their right to trial. But she has only reported straight news, very well, without commentary of her on their legal status.

    Project much?

  3. #3 by Cliff Lyon on December 8, 2008 - 7:40 am

    What Ken is not telling you is that *HE HAS* been proven guilty of pointedly aiding and abetting said ‘serious war criminal who lied to an entire nation.’

    What The Parrot Ken should be screaming about is why isn’t Blackwater being tried?

  4. #4 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 9:16 am


    Blackwater is actually a private military service company contracted by the US government so if these people are guilty then Blackwater could be held responsible. It’s interesting that the military uses private companies such as this anyway. Only one question is since they are contracted by the US military would they be subject to civil authorities or would they fall under the purview of the Uniform Code of Military Justice?.

  5. #5 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 9:26 am


    Many on the left take issue when conservatives point out that that anti-war activities are aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States but aren’t you doing the same thing when you say that those of us who voted for George Bush have “aided and abetted” any alleged war crimes that the left claim he has committed? I thought liberals were against practicing guilt by association? We sure got an earful when we brought up Barack Obama’s association with the terrorist William Ayers and his racist pastor Jeremiah Wright.

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on December 8, 2008 - 9:31 am

    Ken– Do I have to remind you that Rep. John Murtha is both a member of Congress and also served in the Marines for 38 years? He received a Bronze Star for Valor while in Vietnam.

    Rep. Murtha never used the phrase “cold blooded killers.” Here’s what he said on “Hardball,” May 17, 2006:

    MATTHEWS: Draw us a picture of what happened in Haditha.

    MURTHA: Well I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said we’re gonna take care…we don’t know who the enemy is, the pressure was too much on them, so they went into houses and actually killed civilians and…I…

    MATTHEWS: Was this My Lai? When you say cold blood Congressman, a lot of people think you’re basically saying you’ve got some civilians sitting in a room or out in a field and they’re executed on purpose…

    MURTHA: That’s exactly what happened.

    Murtha described the Haditha incident factually, and Matthews inaccurately added the words “cold blood.” Don’t believe everything you hear on Faux News. Actually, I recommend that you not believe anything on that channel. I would say it’s inaccurate to claim the participants in the Haditha incident and subsequent coverup were “exonerated.” People were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony.

    Also, let me remind you that the Blackwater guards were acting in their capacity as mercenaries, not as soldiers (although they were all prior service). Have you read the accounts of what happened in Nisour Square? A U.S. military investigation concluded the Blackwater mercs opened fire without provocation and used excessive force.

    When U.S. Army soldiers kill unarmed civilians, they risk jail time. Yet you think the only penalty for war crimes committed by mercs should be to fine their company?

  7. #7 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 9:54 am

    “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood,” said Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania


    Video of Jack Murtha making the offending statement:

    This was the offending statement that led to the exchange with Chris Mathews that you quoted. He now refuses to apologize or take back his statement and is currently being sued for slander by some of the troops that were wrongfully accused but yet tried and convicted by Jack Murtha before they were eventually exonerated.

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on December 8, 2008 - 10:01 am

    Ken– I stand corrected, and I think that use of the words “cold blood” was an overstatement on the part of Rep. Murtha. I Googled for Murtha + “cold blooded killers” and he never used those words.

    However, your disrespect for Murtha is extreme overstatement. Your claim that the participants in the Haditha incident were “exonerated” is overstatement. No one was exonerated, the charges were dropped as part of the ongoing coverup.

  9. #9 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 10:16 am

    I will be willing to take back my words about Jack Murtha when he apologizes for his outrageous statement and even though my words may be a little over the top they pale in comparison to the pain Murtha caused the accused soldiers and their families.

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on December 8, 2008 - 10:19 am

    Ken– Do you deny that some of the Marines involved in the Haditha incident killed unarmed civilians in their homes and on the street? Everyone else seems to agree that it happened, including those who were there and did the killing.

    The only point in contention is whether the rules of engagement then in effect allowed noncombatants to be targets. Apparently the rules did allow it– and that’s the larger scandal. Most of these incidents have been kept under wraps.

  11. #11 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 10:22 am

    Unless we have proof otherwise I will give anyone serving in our military the benefit of the doubt.

    I am even willing to give back Jack Murtha’s honor if he would at least acknowledge he was wrong.

  12. #12 by Richard Warnick on December 8, 2008 - 10:27 am

    Ken– the proof is abundant. It’s undeniable. Rep. Murtha is not the issue, he’s just a convenient distraction for people who want to kill the messenger.

  13. #13 by Ken on December 8, 2008 - 10:37 am


    Much of the “proof” of alleged US military atrocities have been debunked which is why charges were thrown out by Military Courts.

  14. #14 by Cliff Lyon on December 8, 2008 - 10:53 am

    Ken, How do you get the sand out of your mouth…spending so much time with you head in it, in’ all 🙂

    Many of the atrocities committed by US military as reported by many soldiers (Winter soldiers anyone) are not disputed, nor will they be vetted in any official capacity ever.

    Nothing changes much about war. Especially when mercenaries are involved.

    The BW 5 were private contractors. They admit to killing the women and children. Their defense is they thought they were being ambushed.

    So either they are lying, or they are not very good soldiers. Even if convicted, they will spend little time.

  15. #15 by Becky on December 8, 2008 - 11:48 am

    Ken, for further information, the BW5 were contractors for the State Dept and not for the military. The statement from the prosecutors today explains that they didn’t have the authority for military-style engagement. The people killed were all civilians, not insurgents. and all were unarmed. They included people in cars, in buildings and even a man on the street shot in the chest while his hands were raised in the air, and even children.

    A sixth contractor has pleaded guilty and will provide testimony for the prosecution. The defense is claiming self-defense. But what it increasingly sounds like is that something spooked the guards and a terrible massacre ensued.

    But I agree they are absolutely considered innocent until proven otherwise. I saw some of the family interviews on tv last night, and it is a horrible emotional situation for all of them.

    Look at the faces of the guards. They are all very young. No doubt they saw a great opportunity to make some big money after their military careers. But lacked much experience or preparation to ensure they remained calm in stressful situations.

    As Cliff says, this is nothing new in war. Nothing much changes.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on December 8, 2008 - 11:56 am

    Becky– Those Blackwater mercs are young, but if you look at their military records they all knew what they were doing. What tripped them up was the fact the rules of engagement are different for security contractors than for the military– the mercs are only allowed to fire if fired upon.

    The terrible fact in all the incidents we know of is there is no dispute whether or not unarmed Iraqi civilians were gunned down. The only question is whether the rules of engagement permitted it. In the case of the military, the answer is frequently “yes.”

  17. #17 by Becky on December 8, 2008 - 12:01 pm

    You’re right, Richard, and that is the difference here as they worked for the State Department and they were not allowed the same type of engagement. I also heard conflicting information. Whitewater said the guards were “responding to a car bomb incident”, while the official statement today said they were escorting a USAID individual. Obviously, the facts are not all out and what we have is distorted as best. But I don’t see how they could have been responding to a car bomb incident with the limits to their ability to respond.

  18. #18 by Cav on December 8, 2008 - 12:26 pm

    I’m fascinated by the exposition that the mercenaries, (heroes that they most surely are) will be turning themselves over to the authorities in the ever-so-great state of Utah.

    I suppose Ken will be there for the delivery of some ‘special’ gift to each of them. My speculative mind rejects how such gifts could be wrapped.

  19. #19 by Becky on December 8, 2008 - 12:44 pm

    Cav, sometimes your comments just make my day!

    And not only are they turning themselves in here, but they also very much hope to be tried here because of our well-known conservative viewpoints and love of guns! However, the indictments were brought in D.C., so the trial location is still unknown.

  20. #20 by Shane Smith on December 8, 2008 - 1:31 pm

    Yes, i noticed they want to be tried in Utah.

    How many states still support this farcical war? Oh, thats right…..

    Maybe they can get the trail to be held in La Verkin where they can all be required to be armed in the court room….

    You know Ken, the trouble with “giving Murtha back his honor” is two fold. There is an awful lot of proof that he is right, number one, and number two, I don’t see how someone like you could either take it, or give it back.

    “According to the Los Angeles Times, military and congressional sources distinguished between two squads: the original Marine squad involved in the explosion and shootings, and a Marine intelligence squad that took photos shortly after the shootings. According to LA Times sources, no investigation occurred until after a March 2006 Time magazine story alleging a massacre, even though the intelligence squad’s photos were inconsistent with the Marine squad’s report of a firefight.”

    But i am sure they didn’t cover anything up…

    “There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it.” -Rep John Kline

    That lying liberal scum bag!

    Oh, sorry, he is a republican….

    Well, it isn’t like they have any proof like an eyewitness or anything…..

    “On May 9, Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz, who received immunity in return for testimony, testified that he watched Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich shoot five Iraqis who were attempting to surrender. Cruz further testified that both he and Wuterich fired into the bodies of the five after they were dead, and that he had urinated on one of the dead Iraqis.”

    Hey Ken, I have Murtha’s email address if you want it.

  21. #21 by Becky on December 8, 2008 - 5:55 pm

    UPDATE: The trial will NOT be in Utah; will be in Wash., D.C.

    Though the case has already been assigned to U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina in Washington, attorneys want the case moved to Utah, where they would presumably find a more conservative jury pool and one more likely to support the Iraq war. They said there was no reason for the case to be held in Washington, but a federal magistrate disagreed. The guards are scheduled to report to a Washington courthouse on Jan. 6.

  22. #22 by Richard Warnick on October 2, 2014 - 11:53 am

    The month-long jury deliberations in the murder and manslaughter case against four former Blackwater security contractors may be coming to a verdict of guilty.

  23. #24 by Richard Warnick on April 14, 2015 - 7:55 am

    Ex-Blackwater contractors sentenced in Nusoor Square shooting in Iraq

    Washington (CNN) One former employee of the private Blackwater Worldwide security company was sentenced Monday to life in prison and three others to 30 years each behind bars for their roles in a 2007 mass shooting in Baghdad that left 17 people dead.

    …Another contractor, Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty in 2008 to voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter and testified for the government. He has not yet been sentenced.

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