Blackwater Guards Get Long Sentences in Nusoor Square Case

Four former Blackwater military contractors who were convicted in a case involving a firefight that they started in a square in Iraq that left 17 people were sentenced to very strong prison terms ranging from 30 years for three of them to life in prison for a fourth.

One former employee of the private Blackwater Worldwide security company was sentenced Monday to life in prison and three others to 30 years each behind bars for their roles in a 2007 mass shooting in Baghdad that left 17 people dead.

A federal jury convicted the four in October after a lengthy trial that saw some 30 witnesses travel from Iraq to testify against the security contractors. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashed “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Blackwater sniper Nicholas Slatten to a term of life in prison, mandatory for his first-degree murder conviction. Blackwater workers Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were sentenced to 30 year each, plus one day.

Slough was convicted of 13 counts of voluntary manslaughter, 17 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense. The jury convicted Liberty of eight counts of voluntary manslaughter, 12 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense. Heard was found guilty of six counts of voluntary manslaughter, 11 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense.

This is a good result, if for no other reason than that it might make it more difficult for these mercenary corporations to attract employees. Far too often, they have been essentially lawless and unaccountable in war zones.

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  • Gregory in Seattle

    Four finally brought to justice. How many more to go?

  • postwaste

    Slough is from a small town near where I live. The town is defending him and calling him a hero. That sort of thing.

  • Nick Gotts


    I have not seen any evidence that there was a “firefight”. As far as I can tell from the news stories I’ve read, it was simply a massacre of civilians.

  • Nick Gotts

    Sorry, the number in the blockquote@3 is nothing to do with this thread! It should read:

    involving a firefight that they started

  • left0ver1under

    This case reeks of public relations and going through the motions.

    Those convicted for the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib between 2004 and 2006 (e.g. Charles Graner) were very few compared to the number of terrorists and torturers who actively participated in Iraq (and around the world) before and since. Some of those convicted claimed to have been scapegoats to protect those higher up (e.g. Karpinski), which wouldn’t surprise me.

    How many other trials and convictions for torture have their been? None. The torture trials were meant to give both the US public and Iraqis the illusion that the US doesn’t violate human rights. The Iraqis never bought the lie, but the US public and media did and still do, for the most part.

    In the same way, this trial is intended to make Americans and Iraqis believe that justice will be done. And once again, the majority of Americans will believe that fiction, but the hundreds or even thousands of other Iraqi and Afghan families who were victimized won’t swallow it.

  • Modusoperandi

    This is awful. Way to kill the market, Justice! Now what are the twitchy psychotics supposed to do, join the police?

  • ArtK

    I had to hide an acquaintance’s FB feed after this came through. I was getting tons of “These are Patriots! Punished for Doing Their Duty! Defending America!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Not that I would want any of these murderers’ sentences shortened by a second, but howcum the last three mentioned got exactly the same sentences for different counts of manslaughter? Shouldn’t, e.g., Slough, serve almost double the time of, e.g., Heard?

  • marcus

    If you want an entirely new experience in self-aggrandizing, self-promoting, magical thinking you could read Eric Prince’s Civilian Warriors, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless your doing research on megalomaniacal sociopathy.

    Keep a vomit bucket handy.

    I read just a bit to see what he had to say, it was essentially just…


  •!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    It’s a good start, but there won’t be actual justice until the likes of Dick Cheney are behind bars.

  • kenn

    Don’t worry, guys! The next GOP president will reduce your sentences to time served and set you free with pardons for all!

    Don’t think so? See Nixon, Richard M. and Calley, Lt. William.

  • D. C. Sessions

    It’s time that statutory law was brought into sync with the law as practiced. Anyone want to join in a petition to withdraw from the Convention Against Torture? Or at least repeal the Federal laws against it?

    If only to watch everyone in Washington trying to dodge the issue.

  • colnago80

    Re marcus @ #9

    Scumbag Erik Prince is currently hiding out in one of the gulf states to avoid prosecution.

  • marcus

    @ ^ The man has no conscience.

  • dingojack

    Blackwater Guards Get Long Sentences in Nusoor Square Case

    Well those long sentences are gonna make the fifty lines on the blackboard particularly arduous. After that torture, the perfunctory slap on the wrist is really gonna smart. They might even cry a little.




    Anybody seriously think they’ll serve any kind of real jail time? Seriously?!?

  • D. C. Sessions

    I can see the movie proposal now: the heroic Blackwater Buddies of the unjustly-incarcerated Nusoor Square Four stage a 133t Commando Raid on the filthy prison camp where their fellows are being caged and spring them out, flying past all sorts of attempts to stop them until they arrive in a country that values FREEDOM!!!

  • Nick Gotts

    Pierce R. Butler@8

    According to the NYT:

    The 30-year sentences, while significant, could have been much longer. For using machine guns to commit violent crimes, they faced mandatory minimum 30-year sentences under a law passed during the crack cocaine epidemic. Prosecutors had wanted the judge to hand down sentences of 50 years or more.

  • caseloweraz

    Oddly enough, the outcome of this trial might just help president Obama conclude his negotiations with Iran. Sure, it’s a drop in the bucket as left0ver1under says, but every little bit helps.

  • dingojack

    D.C. Sessions (#16) — done.


  • anubisprime

    Modusoperandi @ 6

    Now what are the twitchy psychotics supposed to do, join the police?

    I think they already have…!

    jus sayin’!