A group of U.S. congressmen has asked President Trump to pardon four former Blackwater contractors who were involved in a shootout in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, at the height of the insurgency.
The four were guarding a State Department official when they claim an insurgent tried to run their checkpoint and began firing. The four contractors, all decorated military veterans, claimed they came under small arms fire and returned fire. Seventeen Iraqis were killed.
The four contractors, Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard, initially had the case against them tossed out due to prosecutorial misconduct, but then-Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton pushed for the Department of Justice to retry them to curry favor with Iraqi officials. The civilian jury convicted them of the wanton shooting of innocents in the Baghdad square. One of the defense attorneys labeled the guilty verdicts “incomprehensible.”
The New York Times described the dearth of evidence against the four,
Prosecutors said the shooting was unprovoked. But with little forensic evidence and no ballistics linking any gunman to any victim, the case came down to the testimony of witnesses. Many told conflicting stories, forcing prosecutors to urge jurors to believe some aspects of their own case and discount others.
Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas and other members of what they call the “Justice for Warriors Caucus” are asking the president to pardon the four because of more evidence of “corruption and prosecutorial misconduct.”
Gohmert wrote a letter to President Trump saying in part,
The corruption and prosecutorial misconduct uncovered over the last twelve years, paints a very different picture. We write to respectfully request a Presidential Pardon for these fine men who served when our country needed them the most.
From the media and political pressure that resulted in their prosecution, to the overzealous, unconstitutional prosecution of these men, the deck was stacked against them from day one.
According to Gohmert and the eight other congressmen, DOJ officials ignored physical evidence proving the contractors’ story, including bullet “strikes” in their own armored vehicles. They also ignored exculpatory eyewitness testimony and a radio operator’s log of the shootout. Witnesses saw at least one shooter in an Iraqi police uniform firing on the contractors. The congressional reps say more than a dozen witnesses “either heard or saw incoming rounds or saw enemy shooters.”
The Iraqi National Police, which Gohmert says had been cozy with the Iranian-backed insurgents, did the initial investigation. The FBI showed up three weeks later.
Gohmert calls the four contractors the “Biden Four” because it was then-Vice President Joe Biden in 2010 who stood next to the Iraqi president and promised to retry the men and bring the full weight of the U.S. Justice Department on them. See that video below. One of them, Slatten, a sniper, was convicted of murder by a civilian jury in 2014 in Washington, D.C., where prosecutors were able to get the trial moved. Slatten was given life in prison. The others were sentenced to 12-15 years in prison.
After the shootout, labeled a “massacre” by the media, Blackwater’s name was so besmirched its founder was basically run out of town and he sold the company. The company has been renamed at least twice since.