The FBI is not happy with how prosecutors handled the indictment of Blackwater security contractors involved in a deadly shooting in Iraq, saying political appointees in the Justice Department intentionally undermined the case. The FBI wanted to have charges filed that could have sent the defendants to prison for life.
Citing internal emails, The New York Times reports that the FBI also expressed serious concerns with Justice Department officials’ decision to refuse to bring two machine-gun charges, each of which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.
In part, officials were not comfortable with the mandatory minimum sentences.
“We are getting some serious resistance from our office to charging the defendants with mandatory minimum time,” Kenneth Kohl, a federal prosecutor, told the lead F.B.I. agent on the case, John Patarini, before the grand jury to vote on an indictment in December 2008.
Patarini was not happy: “I would rather not present for a vote now and wait until the new administration takes office than to get an indictment that is an insult to the individual victims, the Iraqi people as a whole, and the American people who expect their Justice Department to act better than this.”
In 2007, Blackwater security contractors shot machine guns and grenade launchers into a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding many others.