The youngest victim — 9-year-old Ali Kinani
Rejecting pleas for mercy, a federal judge on Monday sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison and three others to 30-year terms for their roles in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 17 others.
The carnage in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, a crowded traffic circle, caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone and remains one of the low points of the war in Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten, who witnesses said was the first to fire shots in the melee, to life on a charge of first-degree murder. The three other guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – were each sentenced to 30 years and one day in prison for charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony…
Prosecutors described the shooting as an unprovoked ambush of civilians and said the men haven’t shown remorse or taken responsibility. Defense lawyers countered that the men were targeted with gunfire and shot back in self-defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin urged the court to consider the gravity of the crime as well as the sheer number of dead and wounded and “count every victim.”
“These four men have refused to accept virtually any responsibility for their crimes and the blood they shed that day,” Martin said…
Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq spoke in halting English about the death of his 9-year-old son as a picture of the smiling boy, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, was shown on courtroom monitors. He demanded the court show Blackwater “what the law is” and claimed many American soldiers died “because of what Blackwater did.”
“What’s the difference between these criminals and terrorists?” Razzaq said.
And that, my friends, has always been the difference between fighting for national liberation, fighting for freedom against a foreign power occupying your nation – and terrorists willing to murder civilians regardless of what kind of freedom they say they’re fighting for.
It started with the brutal bombing of civilians in Madrid by Hitler’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War – and was carried on with glorious abandon and self-justification by the US Air Force carpet-bombing, dropping napalm on civilians in VietNam. Contemporary examples include scum from AlQaeda and ISIS – and hired gunslingers like these convicted thugs.
You can actually get down to pretty fine points arguing military history. This ain’t one of them.