Blackwater verdict

Ocoka

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#3
A general observation and opinion: Any decision/action you take as a deployed soldier/contractor in a battle area is liable to be judged by civilian ethics and legal standards, or influenced by politics and predjudice, with little understanding or sympathy toward the lethal environment you've had to adapt to and in which you operate. It's much tougher to be a 21st century soldier/contractor under the intense level of scrutiny, social media, political correctness, and a judgemental and sometimes hysterical international media...and much easier to find yourself fired, discharged, your career killed or facing bullshit charges for split-second decisions taken in the heat of contact. It's only going to get worse.
 

fox1371

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#4
These guys got thrown under the bus. Pure and simple. State Department at its' finest.
 

fox1371

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#6
How are the charges BS?

They killed 17 and wounded many more civilians, including women. Were any armed? Doesn't appear so.
Are you going to imprison WWII vets? Tell the pilots of the Anola Gay that they should've been thrown in prison? As I'm sure you know, this is a time when civilians and fighters look identical, and fighters will initiate contact in the midst of civilians in an effort to protect themselves, and initiate this type of incident. The investigation? It wasn't conducted immediately. No police went out and taped off the area to preserve evidence. The entire crime scene was tainted beyond all recognition and there's no way to find these men guilty beyond ALL reasonable doubt. The investigation itself was a joint effort with the Iraqi Government. The same government that at the time was expecting payoffs from all security contracting companies, and which BW wouldn't do because it's illegal. Am I saying these guys were in the right? No...I wasn't there. I don't get to pass judgement on a split decision in a combat zone, and in my opinion, neither does anyone else. They were following the guidelines that the State Department set. RSO's create the policies in country, not the security company. As for the weapons charges? Are you kidding me? They were State Department issued! This case was politics, pure and simple. Lastly...AK shells were photographed at the scene by the US Army after they were called to respond.
 

pardus

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#8
AK cases were found, that was (at least in part) because Iraqi Police began firing at the convoy after the shooting started. That was from a quote I read from an IP. Whether his story is true or not is another story.

I don't know the specifics of the firearms charges but that does seem ludicrous, and being tried under a Military law when they weren't anything to do with the Military seems highly suspect. Certainly seems like grounds for appeal to me.

This is in part a political case, which is dodgy from the get go.

Now, that all said, Ive spoken personally with a member of that convoy, and it seems that justice has indeed been served with the guilty verdicts handed down.
 
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Board and Seize

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#9
I may be about to step in it here, but...

...I don't get to pass judgement on a split decision in a combat zone, and in my opinion, neither does anyone else...
In my opinion, this is not only utterly false, but an insidiously toxic thought-process. Those to whom we give special exemption from the law must be held to a higher standard. This notion that any and all actions taken in high-risk, high-stress situations are unchallengeable and sacrosanct is a dangerous one. It is the same idea used (by supporters) to show that, for example, we shouldn't question shootings done by police. Or decisions made by politicians, or doctors. Of course this type of argument is typically made by members (or closely associated persons) of the in-group in question. If we are going to vest the authority to make life-and-death decisions in someone (or some organization), then that person (or organization) is (or at least should be) also vested with a requirement to demonstrate on demand that those life-and-death decisions were justified.

While I agree that there seem to be some procedural issues regarding this particular investigation and prosecution, we shouldn't object to holding these specially empowered persons accountable for their actions.

[gratuitous spiderman quote] "With great power comes great responsibility." [/gratuitous spiderman quote]

We shouldn't let our own membership in certain groups compromise the way we view other members.

In any case, that's what I think...

-B&S
 

lindy

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#10
Are you going to imprison WWII vets? Tell the pilots of the Anola Gay that they should've been thrown in prison? As I'm sure you know, this is a time when civilians and fighters look identical, and fighters will initiate contact in the midst of civilians in an effort to protect themselves, and initiate this type of incident. The investigation? It wasn't conducted immediately. No police went out and taped off the area to preserve evidence. The entire crime scene was tainted beyond all recognition and there's no way to find these men guilty beyond ALL reasonable doubt. The investigation itself was a joint effort with the Iraqi Government. The same government that at the time was expecting payoffs from all security contracting companies, and which BW wouldn't do because it's illegal. Am I saying these guys were in the right? No...I wasn't there. I don't get to pass judgement on a split decision in a combat zone, and in my opinion, neither does anyone else. They were following the guidelines that the State Department set. RSO's create the policies in country, not the security company. As for the weapons charges? Are you kidding me? They were State Department issued! This case was politics, pure and simple. Lastly...AK shells were photographed at the scene by the US Army after they were called to respond.
Sorry man but I've been in a few fights where insurgents used civs as cover BUT we engaged fighters with weapons. Did some of the baddies escape to live (and fight) another day? Definitely BUT in an insurgency, the local populace is the real target; the fighters are just an obstacle.

RSOs do not create shit but follow instructions laid out by the AMBO and country team.

There's no justification to spray fire on civilians. We're Americans and not AQI or Talibs but professional military.

Has anyone seen the qualifications or training of the accused?
 

fox1371

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#11
@Board and Seize

I fully understand what you're saying. However, your comparison is that to US Citizens that fall under the US Constitution. I do agree with what you're saying though...however I don't think that these 4 individuals should be forced to be the scape goats for a political agenda. The whole trial reeks of hidden agendas.

@lindy

Hey I've been there too. We engaged fighters with weapons as well, but that's not to say that civilians were NEVER killed in the process of killing bad guys. I'm sure that we can also both agree that the situation can appear to be different when initially confronted with it. By your statement, we should take every US troop that shot guys with shovels, or inadvertently killed any civilian, and we should put them on the stand and try them for murder. In my opinion, there is a major difference between civilians getting killed while attempting to project your fellow troops/principal etc, and when somebody goes out to a large group of unarmed people and intentionally starts killing civilians. The standard back then was, that if you felt threatened by someone/something, then you kill it. And that's the directive that was passed down in the military as well as the private sector. For politicians to take 7 years and pick apart that incident is just ridiculous.

I'm not sure what your experience is with RSO's etc, however in my experience, they were able to, and did implement security policies. Either way, we can both agree that the PMC itself is not responsible for implementing any security related policies, especially in regards to ROE's.

You're right. We are not AQ/Talib/HQ etc etc. However I think that your comparison from that security detail to those groups is a little drastic, and borderline insulting.

As far as the qualifications? I'm not sure. Honestly I can't say that I care all that much. Just due to the fact that I've seen SOF personnel fail, and 4 years grunts succeed. I get what you're saying, and I do think that the quality of guys that got sent out there dwindled. There was a surge in numbers on the private side, and standards were relaxed. Definitely not a good thing.

@pardus

As have I. Multiple guys I work with were on that gig as well, and it has been admitted that there were reckless individuals on the team. I still don't think that they should've been convicted of murder. Manslaughter, maybe. Murder? No.
 
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lindy

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#12
@fox1371 I get what you're saying but I think the PSD probably should have used other options vice firing blindly into a crowd of Iraqis. Having said that, I'm not sure which US laws were violated in Iraq.
 

Ocoka

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#13
How are the charges BS?

They killed 17 and wounded many more civilians, including women. Were any armed? Doesn't appear so.

It was my post that mentioned "bullshit charges" but I wasn't referring specifically to the Blackwater incident. My post concerned the incredible level of scrutiny any contemporary combat decision is liable to be subjected to; and the ramifications of any trigger pull. You can try to put a rope on war, but's gonna run away from you sooner or later. I just want to see actions judged in the light of the very unique circumstances of combat.
 
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Etype

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#14
There's no justification to spray fire on civilians. We're Americans and not AQI or Talibs but professional military.
This isn't the military who is in question, however, the argument still applies.

The military is made for killing people and breaking things- and sometimes that happens...
 

Ocoka

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#15
This isn't the military who is in question, however, the argument still applies.

The military is made for killing people and breaking things- and sometimes that happens...
Sure would be nice if they made bullets that could tell the good guys from the bad guys and change course in flight.

I consider any warfighter to be a lucky man who finds himself in an AO where there aren't any civilians. But we rarely seem to have that luxury. Me and my guys had to fight near villes and hamlets, we had a strict ROE but sometimes the wrong people got killed. Not often. But the rounds are going everywhere during a contact. We did pretty good considering we didn't have NVGs or laser/GPS-guided munitions. Aside from technology and terrain, not that much has changed. You guys have to fight an enemy who doesn't wear a uniform, moves and hides among the population...so did we. It's the most difficult fighting there is. All in all, I feel it's pretty goddam amazing how good our modern forces are at killing bad guys WITHOUT killing civilians. You should be applauded and yet you still get condemned when the inevitable civilian casualties happen.

I won't second-guess what set these Blackwater guys off...maybe a truck backfire, who knows...maybe it was buck fever...maybe there were some bad dudes who took a few potshots and unassed the area just to start this exact kind of thing. But First-Degree Murder for Slatten? WTF, like this was premeditated?
 

Etype

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#16
I don't know the hard statistics, but from reading, listening, etc.- it's amazing how from WWII to present how much less collateral damage there has been as we've progressed with military technology, yet now the backlash is immense.

- In WWII, we saw whole cities ruined. There was a bit of a fuss over the THOUSANDS of civilians that were killed over relatively short periods of bombing in Japan.

- In Vietnam, there was much more of an uproar over far less civilians who were incidentally killed during intense fighting.

- In Afghanistan and Iraq, one civilian casualty can shut down a unit for weeks and get people brought up on serious charges.
 
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Ooh-Rah

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#17
<snip> - In Afghanistan and Iraq, one civilian casualty can shut down a unit for weeks and get people brought up on serious charges.
Question - is this "administration" influenced? For example, are things more rigid during the Obama term vs. say the Bush term?

-- or --

Does it have to do more with the enemy's ability (and ours I guess) to Facebook/Tweet/etc vids of civilians (or alleged civilians) to friendly media outlets who will run them over and over, regardless of the context.
 

Rampart

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#18
A general observation and opinion: Any decision/action you take as a deployed soldier/contractor in a battle area is liable to be judged by civilian ethics and legal standards, or influenced by politics and predjudice, with little understanding or sympathy toward the lethal environment you've had to adapt to and in which you operate. It's much tougher to be a 21st century soldier/contractor under the intense level of scrutiny, social media, political correctness, and a judgemental and sometimes hysterical international media...and much easier to find yourself fired, discharged, your career killed or facing bullshit charges for split-second decisions taken in the heat of contact. It's only going to get worse.
Those who have not been there will NEVER be able to understand or even begin to appreciate the momentary decision making process of the environment. They are therefore, no able to reach accurate assement of the actions from the comfort of an air conditioned room with a nice view and fresh coffee. Less so with rose tinted glasses and an ideological view of the world.

In short - Disgraceful ideological outcome.
 

Etype

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#19
Those who have not been there will NEVER be able to understand or even begin to appreciate the momentary decision making process of the environment.
One of the guidelines for writing the ROE for the US MIL is that it is only supposed to take into account what the SM has knowledge of at the moment he takes action.

If a private from the 82nd shoots someone in downtown Kandahar/Baghdad/whatever, and at that moment he had reason to believe there was hostile intent/action- it doesn't matter what is found out later.

The career desk-sitters will never understand that pressure, but will often scrutinize the decisions.
 

Six-Two

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#20
Man, that was eloquently put. As a civilian, it's good to see this view expressed by a member of a gun-carrying community. While it's true that people fall through the cracks, the notion is that people with greater responsibilities (i.e., life and death, international incidents, et al) should be held to a higher standard. If that means fewer people qualified to do the job, so be it. I'd rather have 10 extraordinary guys than 40 knuckleheads. Anyway, just wanted to give some props.
 
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