Ithaca Blog

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ithacan Plans to Put Blackwater on Trial

Peter Demott of Ithaca is part of a group that was arrested last month for a non-violent protest at the headquarters of Blackwater USA, the military contractors, against killings by Blackwater in Iraq.

The protestors plan to use their trial to subpoena Erik Prince, Blackwater's owner, for testimony about Blackwater killings and subsequent cover-ups using U.S. taxpayer money.

A news article in the New York Times reports, "Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded."

Last Christmas Eve, a drunken Blackwater employee shot and killed a bodyguard of one of Iraq's two vice presidents. He was clandestinely removed from Iraq by Blackwater within 36 hours. A State Department official suggested paying the slain bodyguard's family $250,000, but another said that such a high payment "could cause incidents of people trying to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family's future." Blackwater paid $15,000 to the dead man's family.

The State Department has paid Blackwater over a billion dollars for its activities.

On September 16, Blackwater employees in a moving convoy fired on a public square, killing 8 civilians. Outraged Iraqi officials called the shootings "cold-blooded murder" and called for the expulsion of Blackwater from the country.

Demott's group hopes to engage Blackwater in the company's first legal proceeding.

In the face of increasing public scrutiny, Blackwater has hired a bi-partisan collection of highly-placed Washington lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations specialists.

In the past, Blackwater has retained Fred Fielding, the present White House counsel, to help handle lawsuits filed by families of slain Blackwater employees.

Demott's trial is scheduled to begin on December 5.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

1 comment:

Christian Stalberg said...

Peter Demott is a brave soul and is highly regarded by those of us concerned about Blackwater in specific and the privatization of war in general. We hope that Erik Prince and other senior executives at Blackwater and in the U.S. State Department will be called to testify at this trial. The Bushs and Princes of this world must be put on trial to expose their criminality and profiteering at the expense of the safety and well being of the people of the world.

For more information about Peter Demott's protest and arrest at the gates of Blackwater headquarters visit