Along with a motley collection of wealthy swindlers and fraudsters, President Donald Trump on Dec. 22 pardoned four former Blackwater private contractors (mercenaries) convicted in the infamous Sept. 16, 2007, Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad.
Seventeen Iraqis were killed and 14 seriously wounded in an unprovoked attack by the four, who indiscriminately fired machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades into a crowd of unarmed civilians. Among the dead were two boys, 9 and 11 years of age, and a woman burned alive in her car. The four killers suffered no injuries, and their claims of self-defense were rejected by Iraqi and U.S. investigations. It was one of many atrocities committed by U.S. and allied forces.
Trials and retrials in the U.S. found the four guilty of heinous crimes including first-degree murder and manslaughter.
But why were they never tried in Iraq, site of their monstrous actions? Answering that question unmasks the colonial relationship between the U.S. and Iraq that began with the 2003 “Shock and Awe” invasion.
Now the four will walk free, as do the much higher-ranking war criminals who planned and executed the war against Iraq, a country half-way around the world that did not and could not threaten the United States. Iraq remains decimated, while George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Candoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, who perpetrated the war and occupation that followed, have never had to face justice. Nor have such fervent supporters of the war like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
The reaction in Iraq to news of the pardons was widespread outrage, from Iraqi government officials to people on the street, and renewed demands that the U.S. finally get out.
Reaction in Iraq
A well-known Iraqi commentator, Muhammad Waeli, tweeted:
“Pardoning the Blackwater killers is renewing the crime committed against the Iraqi people.”
Fares Saadi, an official who led the Iraqi investigation leading to the convictions of the Blackwater, told the AFP news agency, “I knew we’d never get justice.”
“The infamous Blackwater company killed Iraqi citizens at Nisour Square. Today we heard they were released upon personal order by President Trump, as if they don’t care for the spilled Iraqi blood,” said Saleh Abed,