Friday, January 1, 2010

Justice can wait -- charges against Blackwater defendants dismissed

The longer the United States puts off a comprehensive review of George W. Bush's presidency, the more disgraces like these are going to happen. We're discussing, of course, Thursday's decision by a federal judge to dismiss murder and other charges against five private security guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 civilians in Iraq. In a 90-page ruling, U.S. Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington said government officials had misused statements made by the five defendants in such a "reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights" that dismissal of the indictment was the appropriate sanction, according to the New York Times. That works out well for the five guards who worked for Blackwater Worldwide, the McLean, Vir., company that provided security for foreign diplomats in Baghdad following the U.S. invasion in 2003, and, perhaps, for the rest of us in the long run, because it discourages prosecutorial overzealousness by the government. But there is a price to be paid. The decision further delays the urgently needed reckoning - the conduct of the U.S. government during the Bush administration has put the philosophical basis of the country at risk. The U.S. government has put its own survival ahead of its founding principles -- that's why it feels justified in operating secret prisons in other countries, torturing suspects, kidnapping suspects in other countries and holding them for years without charge or access to attorneys, in spying on its own citizens. These were supposed to be the truths we held self-evident and, yet, our government has chosen to restrict them with the support of the citizenry. It is an outrage.

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