Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prosecutor Sounds Like He Knows He's On Shaky Ground

The chief federal prosecutor leading the charge against the five former Blackwater men sounded pretty un-confident during his December 8 news conference at which he outlined the case.

Assistant Attorney General Patrick Rowan (pictured) stumbled when a reporter asked how sure he was that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) applies to the defendants. Here's the section from the full transcript:

QUESTION: If I could just follow up on your answer on MEJA, your contention is then that the State Department was in Iraq supporting the Department of Defense?

MR. ROWAN: Well, our contention is that, well first of all let me make it clear. Our evidence on this point is something we will present to the judge and the jury, and they will have the opportunity to determine whether or not we've provided sufficient evidence of this point. What we are saying is that the defendants who we've charged were supporting the mission of the Department of Defense and that's the charging language we use, that's the predicate for the use of MEJA in this case.

QUESTION: So any U.S. personnel in Iraq at the time were supporting the Department of Defense, is that the theory here?

MR. ROWAN: I wouldn't go so far as to say that's so. We believe -- and again I'm obviously avoiding getting into the evidence. But we believe the evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that these individuals were supporting the mission in the Department of Defense.
That doesn't sound like a very confident prosecutor. The prosecutors are building this case on a technicality, and a weak one, at that. Small wonder the defense team sounds so relaxed.

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