Blackwater Is Put On Trial

[Note: On September 16th, 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and at least 27 wounded, in an unprovoked attack by para-military contractors (mercenaries) employed by a US government contract with a company in North Carolina called Blackwater USA (now Blackwater Worldwide). The dead and wounded were simply sitting in their cars in a traffic jam in Nisour Square when the Blackwater contingent approached in military vehicles and opened fire.  To this day, no Blackwater employee has been prosecuted by any court for this atrocity, one of dozens which have allegedly been perpetrated by such military contractors with impunity.  On October 20th, 2007, seven activists (Steve Baggarly, Elizabeth Brockman, Mark Colville, Peter DeMott, Mary Grace, Laura Marks and Bill Streit) entered the property of Blackwater’s headquarters and staged a dramatic re-enactmant of the Nisour Square Massacre.  After arrest and two trials, they were found guilty of trespass and resisting or refusing to comply with an officer.  Prior to sentencing, Steve Baggarly offered the following statement:]

 

 

A joint study released in October 2006 by the Johns

Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al 

Mustansiriya University in Baghdad estimated Iraqi

casualties from the March 2003 US invasion to July

2006 at 655,000. Using internationally accepted

methods for determining casualties in war zones, and

with 90% of interviewees presenting death

certificates, the study found that about 2.5% of

Iraq’s population died as a consequence of the war up

to that point. It estimated that over 1/3 of those

were killed by US violence. During that time, Iraq

suffered the equivalent of 17 Virginia Tech massacres

per day. The US invasion created the climate of

violence and abuse against all of Iraq’s people which

the occupation sustains daily. The past 18 months the

violence has continued. It stands to reason that

several times the number of fatalities have been

wounded, orphaned, widowed, blinded, raped,

terrorized, tortured, or driven mad by the war. Add to

that some 4.2 million Iraqi refugees and one gets a

picture of an entire nation being destroyed, its

people killed, maimed, and forced out, its children

targeted and traumatized. 

In Nisoor Square Mohammed Hafiz was driving four

children when Blackwater mercenaries riddled the car

with bullets. His 10 year old son Ali was shot in the

head. Mohammed had to gather up pieces of the child’s

skull and brains for the burial. During one point in

the massacre Blackwater operatives concentrated fire

on a passenger bus. A small boy fled the bus in terror

and was shot down as was his mother who ran after him.

The Nisoor Square massacre is the Iraq war in

microcosm. 

As the rubble of World War II still smoldered, French

philosopher Albert Camus wrote, “What the world 

expects of Christians is to get out of their

abstractions and stand face to face with the bloody

mess that is our history today. Christians must speak

out and utter their condemnation in such a way that

never a doubt, never a single doubt, can arise in the

heart of even the simplest person.”

On October 20th we tried to speak out clearly by

reenacting the Nisoor Square massacre on Blackwater’s

front doorstep. We tried to vividly depict for the

American people that the Nisoor Square massacre and

the vast suffering our nation has heaped on Iraq is no

abstraction. We also hoped to condemn the 2003 US

invasion and occupation of Iraq as an illegal war of

aggression under International Law and to expose US

law and courts as complicit in their execution.

Indeed, US law has immunized Blackwater, both in Iraq

and at home, allowing it unrestricted license to kill

and a five year reign of terror. For starters, under

Nuremburg Principles VI and VII the Nisoor Square

massacre and the shooting of hundreds if not thousands

of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater are crimes against

peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what

makes for an orderly and peaceable world, while, in

fact, US law and courts stand idly by while the US

military and private armies like Blackwater have

killed, maimed, brutalized, and destroyed the homes

and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In

the end US courts trample International Law, as well

as God’s law of love for all people, by

rubber-stamping every US war and military

intervention, invasion, incursion, occupation, police

action, and special forces operation coming out of the

Pentagon—and they are many and constant.  Our courts

even protect our world’s largest stockpiles of weapons 

of mass destruction despite international treaties and

laws that declare them illegal and demand their

disarmament. US courts make sure that if our weapons

of mass destruction are one day used to destroy the

planet and all life on it, to undo all of God’s

creation, that it will be perfectly legal.

So, what are we to do when the laws of the land are

murderous? Laws everywhere that protect militarism in

all its guises are a scourge upon the earth and its

people. On October 20th we hoped to join those around

the world who are opposing the forces of death by

breaking such laws. We hoped to add our voices to the

global outcry for Blackwater to leave Iraq

immediately. Blackwater and the entire US military

presence in Iraq need to be repatriated today and

tonight we must begin massive reparations to an entire

people we are destroying. There is blood on all of our

hands, we are all enmeshed in the structures of

militarism, we all participate in such atrocities

through our votes, our dutiful payment of taxes and

our silence. We must repent, disarm, and redistribute

the planet’s wealth.  We must stop heaping corpses upon

the altar of national security and instead worship God

who resides in its victims. 

As an aside, judge, I won’t cooperate with a sentence

of community service as I feel that our action at

Blackwater was a community service, and neither will I

pay any fines as I believe that everything belongs to

God and thus try to render as little to Cesar as

possible.  

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