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Tag: Iraq

Fed Judge Dismisses Charges Against Blackwater Guards — Ending 2009 on a Sour Note for Justice Dept.

blackwaterlogo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A federal judge here dropped charges against five Blackwater guards because of questionable prosecution tactics on the very last day of the year. It surely wasn’t the way the Justice Department wanted to wrap up 2009, a year that had a lot of ups and downs in the court.

The Justice Department scored some major victories in 2009 with the conviction of ex-Congressman William Jefferson and guilty pleas from the two Bernies — swindler Bernie Madoff and ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.

But the Justice Department  was embarrassed after a conviction of ex-Senator Ted Stevens was thrown out because of prosecutor misconduct and after a mistrial was declared for the fourth time in trial of John Gotti Jr. case when the jury was declared deadlocked.

On Thursday, in the Blackwater case,  U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed the charges against five guards accused of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad traffic circle in 2007,  saying in a 90-page opinion that the Justice Department had wrongfully used “immunized statements” the men made to the State Department even though the men were told the remarks could not be used against them in court.

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Feds Honing in On U.S. Military in Graft Probe Involving Rebuilding of Iraq

It will take a long long time to sort through all the American corruption in Iraq, which has unfortunately involved high-ranking U.S.  officials in Iraq.

By JAMES GLANZ, C.J. CHIVERS and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
New York Times

Federal authorities examining the early, chaotic days of the $125 billion American-led effort to rebuild Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents.
Court records show that last month investigators subpoenaed the personal bank records of Col. Anthony B. Bell, who is now retired from the Army but who was in charge of reconstruction contracting in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 when the small operation grew into a frenzied attempt to remake the country’s broken infrastructure. In addition, investigators are examining the activities of Lt. Col. Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force, who was a senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004, according to two federal officials involved in the inquiry.
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Former Maryland Restaurant Cook Charged With Spying For Saddam Hussein

Documents unearthed in Iraq are giving investigators insights into who spied for Saddam Hussein. Indictments like this have been popping up around the country.

By CAROLYN THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer

An Iraq-born Canadian citizen who was picked up at the U.S. border last week was charged Monday with conspiring to spy for Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
A criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department alleges that Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish, 47, was paid to provide information to Iraqi government officials and intelligence officers in 2000 and later, including that Iraqi volunteers were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia.
The complaint was filed in Maryland, where Darwish worked as a restaurant cook before moving back to Canada. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charge of conspiracy to act as an agent for a foreign government.
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Read FBI Affidavit

Some FBI Agents in Iraq Got Overtime to Attend Parties and Watch Movies

This comes under the category of “not good publicity for the bureau.”

By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Taxpayers were billed an average of $45,000 in overtime and extra pay for each FBI agent temporarily posted to Iraq over the course of four years, according to a new Justice Department report. In some cases, agents were paid to watch movies, exercise and attend parties.
In all, the audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found the FBI racked up $7.8 million in improper wages between 2003 and 2007.
Thursday’s report blamed a faulty FBI policy that allowed agents to claim the extra time and money. An FBI spokesman said that policy – which initially sought to enlist volunteers to go to dangerous war zones – is no longer in place.
“Several FBI employees noted that they periodically spent time during the work day washing clothes,” the report noted.

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Secret Service Acted “Appropriately” in Bush-Shoe Throwing, But Response Under Review

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service said Monday that its agents responded “appropriately” to Sunday’s shoe throwing incident in Iraq involving President Bush, but  the incident was under review.
“We’re looking at the incident to see if there’s anything that we can do better,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. “We do that after any foreign trip.”
“The thing just happened so we’re trying to get all the information together,” he said, adding that the agents had yet to return to the states.
He said people attending the conference were checked for weapons and underwent background checks to assure they were representing their respective media companies.
He said Secret Service agents and Iraqi security acted appropriately and immediately started moving toward the man after he threw the first shoe.
The reporter was identified as Muntazer al-Zaida, who works for the independent Iraqi television station Al-Baghdaddia.
Agence France Press reported Monday that the Iraqi government was facing mounting pressure from Arab world to release the shoe-throwing reporter. The reporter jumped up during the press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, hurled the shoes at Bush and yelled “It is the farewell kiss, you dog.”
Agence France reported that the man’s colleagues in Baghdad said he had long been planning to throw shoes at Bush.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY5U3Yp4tKI

Blackwater Attorneys Accuse Feds of Unfairly Second Guessing Indicted Security Guards

The legal combat over the combat in Iraq is already starting even before the indictments are unsealed for five Blackwater employees.

By Del Quentin Wilber and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged in a 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead accused the government yesterday of engaging in unfair second-guessing of the contractors’ actions in a combat zone.
The five guards — a sixth is in plea negotiations — were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Washington in the shooting, which occurred on Sept. 16, 2007, in Baghdad’s bustling Nisoor Square, according to several sources familiar with the case. The indictment was sealed, and the exact charges are not known. The guards, all former military personnel, are expected to surrender to federal authorities tomorrow, the sources said.
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