No Private Armies - http://NoPrivateArmies.org
CONTACT: Dan Kenney, Co-Coordinator
No Private Armies
firstname.lastname@example.org / 815-793-0950
Citizens' Oversight Projects Committee - http://CitizensOversight.org and http://StopBlackwater.net
CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator
San Diego County, California
email@example.com / 619-447-3246
CONTACT: Christian Stalberg, Coordinator
Raleigh, North Carolina
firstname.lastname@example.org / 919-801-0734
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 12, 2010
Congress Must Investigate the Mishandling of Blackwater Case and Enact the "Stop Outsourcing Security Act", Coalition Groups Agree in an Open Letter to Congress
SAN DIEGO, CHICAGO, RALEIGH, NC (Jan 12, 2010) - A coalition of citizen groups opposing outsourced security services published an "Open Letter to Congress" calling for an investigation into the mishandling of the case involving Blackwater and the killing of 17 unarmed civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad on September 16, 2007. Blackwater (now Xe Services LLC) was asked to leave the country by Iraqi officials after the event, and later six Blackwater contractors were charged with manslaughter. On New Year's Eve, 2009, Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled the case a mistrial due to mishandling by the Justice Department.
Judge Ricardo Urbina's 90-page opinion makes it clear that the trial team repeatedly refused to heed the warnings of Raymond Hulser, a Deputy Chief in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, who was assigned as the "taint attorney."
The coalition's letter urges Congress to conduct a full scale investigation into why the trial team used defendant statements despite repeated advice not to "rely on any information derived from the defendants' September 16 oral interview statements." The group also asserts that the Department of Justice may have had motivation to taint this case from the start.
"Considering all of the millions of tax payer dollars that have gone into funding Blackwater, as well as paying for all of the various investigations into their illegal and unethical activities, the citizens of the United States deserve to know the truth," said Dan Kenney, co-coordinator of No Private Armies.
"We worked hard to stop Blackwater from expansion in San Diego County and we learned about the character of the company, and the fact that it is simply a mistake to deploy these for-profit forces into the theater of battle around the world," Raymond Lutz said, coordinator of Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs), operator of the http://www.stopblackwater.net website.
Lutz worked with the community to stop the 824-acre training camp in Potrero (near San Diego), to limit their expansion in Otay Mesa along the Cal-Mex border, and most recently to stop the Blackwater/Xe contract with Southwestern College District. "We must pull the funding on war profiteers like Blackwater. We must stop them for good."
The Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership of the United States Naval Academy held a conference in April, 2009, entitled "Ethics and Military
Contractors: Examining the Public-Private Partnership" and their researchers slammed the use of private contractors. Stockdale Center of Ethics Fellow Dr. Susan Marble Barranca said (regarding private military contractors) "Respectfully, the question should not be why should they not allowed to continue to operate, but why have they been allowed to operate at all."