Thursday, November 29, 2007

Justice Department may have to twist the law to prosecute Blackwater guards

Congress never bothered to update the law to include private diplomatic security guards when it appropriated State Department funds to hire private security contractors in Iraq and elsewhere.

Now, the US might have to twist the facts and possibly the law itself if it chooses to prosecute Blackwater for the September 16 incident in Iraq.

National Public Radio interviews former assistant US attorney Bob Chadwell, who says this about Justice Department lawyers: "They are going to have to shoehorn the facts into a statute that wasn't designed to address that concern, and that is a problem."

"If the law isn't meant to address something, it is sometimes like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Sometimes it just can't be done," Chadwell adds.

The NPR Morning Edition commentary says, "Legal experts say the Justice Department is likely to shoehorn the case into one of two American laws. One applies to people employed by or accompanying US armed forces overseas. If they commit a crime that would result in more than a year in prison had it been committed in the US, they could fall under US jurisdiction."

Yes, but Blackwater's diplomatic security people are employed by the State Department and accompany diplomats - not the armed forces. No such law exists to prosecute for the September 16 incident. That's not Blackwater's fault. It's the fault of Congress.

Is it really justice if government lawyers have to "shoehorn the facts" in order get their prosecution?

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