Saturday, November 15, 2008

Justice delayed is justice denied

That's an old truism of our legal system related to the right to a speedy trial. It can also apply to the public's desire to see justice done and things set right, or as near right as possible after a deed is done.

Today we have news.

After more than five years of rampant violence and misconduct carried out by the massive army of private corporate contractors in Iraq -- actions that have gone totally unpunished under any system of law -- the US Justice Department appears to be on the verge of handing down the first indictments against armed private forces for crimes committed in Iraq. The reported targets of the "draft" indictments: six Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16, 2007, killing of seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square.The Associated Press reports, "The draft is being reviewed by senior Justice Department officials but no charging decisions have been made. A decision is not expected until at least later this month." The AP, citing sources close to the case, reports that the department has not determined if the Blackwater operatives would be charged with manslaughter or assault. Simply drafting the indictments does not mean that the Blackwater forces are certain to face charges. The department could indict as few as three of the operatives, who potentially face sentences of five to twenty years, depending on the charges.

If the Justice Department pursues a criminal prosecution, it would be the first time armed private contractors from the United States face justice.

But that is a very big "if."

--Jeremy Scahill at The Nation via Alternet

--the BB

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