Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Curious Timing: Is US Using Prosecutions to Curry Favor with Iraqi Factions?

Defense counsel for the three retired Marines and two former soldiers - the Blackwater guards being put on trial for the Nisoor Square incident - say that the US Justice Department is acting more like it wants to curry favor with certain Iraqi factions than to ensure justice.

"We are . . . very concerned about the political considerations that appear to have motivated this indictment," the defense team says in a court document posted on Raven23.com. "It is unusual to say the least for the DOJ to bring high profile criminal charges in a case with international political overtones during the transition of presidential administrations and Justice Department officials.

"However, in the past weeks and months the U.S. Government has been negotiating a Status of Force Agreement with the Iraqi Government that will govern the future of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and has been anxious to see it ratified by the Iraqi Parliament. During this same period the Department of Justice has been conducting its investigation and has also sent agents to Iraq to provide briefings on this case.

"The filing of these charges at this time gives every appearance that these young men are being prosecuted to curry favor with factions in the Iraqi government that have been hostile to the U.S. presence and highly critical of the conduct of U.S. forces. More simply put, the DOJ indictment at this delicate time creates an overwhelming appearance of political influence in an effort to win support in Iraq. This is intolerable."

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