Search This Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Gets Protection of Constitutional Rights - Terrorists or Blackwater?

Once again we have a debate about Constitutional Rights for terrorists versus American citizens.  This latest round started with VP Biden's announcement in Iraq...

The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security contractors involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.

The AP article goes on to express the Obama Administration's feelings about the dismissal of the charges...

Biden expressed his "personal regret" for the shooting and said the Obama administration was disappointed by the dismissal. "A dismissal is not an acquittal," he said.

"A dismissal is not an acquittal" - true enough BUT when the dismissal is brought about by the violation of the defendents' constitutional rights and exonerating evidence is withheld from the grand jury, then you have to wonder about the motivation to pursue an appeal.  Keep in mind that this is the same administration that is allowing the prosecution of Navy Seals for alledgedly "hitting" the known mastermind of the Fallujah massacre of Blackwater employees.  This is the same administration that is providing Constitutional Rights to Gitmo detainees by having their trials moved to US Courts instead of military tribunals and giving our rights to the Fruit-a-Kaboom bomber.  Do Constitutional Rights only apply to terrorists now?

Reading through Judge Urbina's decision to dismiss the charges is like reading the story of a man off the street attempting to present a case to the US Supreme Court.  Even the judge expressed his feelings towards the prosecution's actions...

(snip)In their zeal to bring charges against the defendants in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation.

(snip)The explanations offered by the prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.

But there is so much more that is disturbing when you read through the entire 90 page decision - and you don't have to be an attorney to understand it. Here's just a few of the low-lights (you can read the whole decision here.)
  • The media's publishing of sworn statements and leaked documentation prior to the first Grand Jury Hearing.
  • The tainted testimony causing the cancellation of the first Grand Jury Hearing.
  • The use of one live witness who presented summarized evidence from the Iraqi witnesses at the second Grand Jury Hearing.
  • The use of summarized portions of the prior grand jury testimony and presented the second grand jury with redacted transcripts of the prior grand jury testimony of Frost, Murphy and Mealy (the 3 Blackwater employees who were listed as government witnesses)
  • The withholding from the second grand jury substantial exculpatory evidence that had been presented to the first grand jury despite DOJ guidelines requiring prosecutors to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury. United States Attorneys’ Manual § 9-11.233
  • Using evidence summaries for the second grand jury which presented distorted versions of the testimony on which they were based.
And then there's the little tidbit thrown into one of the footnotes about the Assistant US attorney and one of the members of his team purchasing copies of the Blackwater haters manual - Blackwater – The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, by Jeremy Scahill. BUT - they didn't read it...
Despite the documentation of exculpatory evidence in the form of radio transmission transcripts and photos of the Blackwater vehicles with bullet holes in them, the administration is willing to sacrifice Americans lives to make the Iraqis "feel better" about us.  How very "one world-ish" of them...
This whole case reeks of "Haditha-ism" - claims from "innocent civilians" of Texas shoot-out style behavior from the Americans while Iraqis just went about their business playing checkers and skipping rope on the street corners.  And what is it with white Kia vehicles being involved in these incidents - same type of vehicle was at the heart of the Haditha investigation. 
But not to worry - that bastion of anti-Americanism, the Center for Constitutional Rights, is helping the Iraqi "victims" file civil charges against the Blackwater team so they can at least get some monetary compensation for their loss. (insert HURL alert here). And we also have the obligatory "Bush's fault" claims - yes some actually claim that the Assistant US Attorney Kenneth Kohl deliberately spiked the case to get it thrown out since the Bush Administration did not look kindly on prosecution of its "mercenary army".
Yet the Obama Administration wants to pursue an appeal of the judge's decision... Will they be as vigorous when the Courts dismiss charges against Gitmo detainees for violation of their Constitutional Rights? Dear God let's hope so - but my gut tells me otherwise.  After all that would go against everything this administration has done so far.
The next time VP Biden wants to bloviate about a court case, maybe he should read the Judge's Decision first.  Then again having the facts first would go against Biden's natural inclination.

No comments: