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To the Editor:
Re “Bullets Ravaged Iraqis. Pardons Renew the Pain” (front page, Dec. 24):
I was the F.B.I. case agent who led the investigation of the Blackwater massacre in Baghdad. We originally went to Iraq thinking this shooting was some form of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between Blackwater guards and insurgents. After only one week, we determined that this incident was not as presented by Blackwater personnel and their State Department lackeys, but it was a massacre along the lines of My Lai in Vietnam. Three of the guards were convicted of manslaughter and one of murder.
I only recently became aware of the concerted effort for the pardons, which I understand started with a political push by members of Congress. President Trump should have had staff members review the trial evidence that led to the convictions and read the judges’ opinions and sentencing statements. God forbid they might have actually picked up the phone and called the investigators who built the case. I’m so disgusted with the president’s actions!
Having spent many hours with the innocent Iraqi victims who are permanently maimed and crippled because of the actions of these Blackwater guards, and the heartbroken family members of those killed, I am embarrassed for our country. I believe we will pay a heavy price in our relationships with other countries as a result of these pardons.
I’m so glad that I’m retired and will never again be asked to risk my life and those of my fellow investigators, only to have killers pardoned for purely political reasons.
John M. Patarini
To the Editor:
In 2007, when private security contractors working for Blackwater in Iraq killed 17 Iraqi civilians, and injured others, the killings provoked outrage in Iraq, and around the world. It took seven years for the U.S. government to successfully prosecute the perpetrators, a case that highlighted the need to hold private contractors accountable.
President Trump has shamefully pardoned four of the perpetrators, upending this valuable example of accountability.
The killings by Blackwater contractors served as a catalyst for several governments, including the United States, Britain and Switzerland, to create the International Code of Conduct Association, or ICoCA, dedicated to creating accountability for private security contractors around the globe.
Mr. Trump’s pardon underscores the need for governments to bolster ICoCA’s role in monitoring private security firms and addressing abuses when they occur. While the Biden administration cannot undo this ill-advised pardon, it should support ICoCA’s important global mission, by providing financial and diplomatic support and by requiring private security companies doing business with U.S. agencies to participate in ICoCA’s monitoring and assessment program.
The writers are former board members of ICoCA.
To the Editor:
This 73-year-old woman in Texas personally apologizes to the Iraqi people not only for the war this country waged there but now again for the despicable pardons of four convicted killers of your people.
I’m sure I speak for millions of Americans who are horrified by these pardons and are truly sorry. Our apologies may not help, but we still must offer them.
San Marcos, Texas