Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letter to the editor

Here's a copy of a letter I emailed this date to the SB News-Press. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

The October 21 verdicts by a federal jury finding four Blackwater "civilian contractors" guilty of homicide (three verdicts of manslaughter, one of murder) for the 2007 killing of seventeen civilians in Iraq will likely result in lengthy prison sentences for all four. The contractors raised various defenses: that they were under stress; that they perceived immediate danger; that they were employed to ensure the safety of State Department personnel and sensed an imminent threat; and so on.

Nevertheless, after seven years of judicial fits and starts, after a ten-week trial and four weeks of jury deliberation, the federal prosecutors convinced a unanimous jury that the defendants' conduct evidenced a callous disregard for human life (twenty other innocent Iraqis were seriously injured), and that their lawyers' defenses were unavailing under the facts.

I agree with the verdicts and am heartened to see that a federal prosecutor had the stamina and diligence to persevere to obtain them. But I have this question: Given that these four Blackwater employees have been found to have acted with callous disregard for innocent lives, and their counter-arguments – which sound hauntingly similar to those made by the last two presidents in their years of drone-launchings and bombings throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa – have been dismissed, unanimously, as without merit, why haven't Bush and Obama (the latter having received my vote in 2008) been placed in the dock to account for the thousands of innocents they've killed?

I'll say this: I'd love to sit on that jury.