Four former employees of the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater were convicted Wednesday of a mass shooting during the Iraq War.

One man was convicted of first-degree murder and three others were convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 14 people.

The incident, which took place in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, resulted in the death or injury of 37 people and was emblematic of the kind of free-for-all violence that was all-too typical of the conflict.

Lawyers for the defense argued that their clients were reacting to shots fired, but the jury didn’t buy it. An appeal is expected on the grounds that the men were contracted to the State Department, not the Defense Department.

The government wanted to demonstrate that it was willing to try American citizens for crimes committed abroad, though one can’t help but wonder what other horrors have gone unpunished.

Jeremy Scahill, who literally wrote the book on Blackwater, points out in a new piece that the company “remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.”

The Intercept:

Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries. Prince now has a new company, Frontier Services Group, which he founded with substantial investment from Chinese enterprises and which focuses on opportunities in Africa. Prince recently suggested that his forces at Blackwater could have confronted Ebola and ISIS. “If the administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” he wrote.

None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors. Just as the main architect of the CIA interrogation program, Jose Rodriguez, is on a book tour for his propagandistic love letter to torture, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives, so too is Erik Prince pushing his own revisionist memoir, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.

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— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer


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