Iraq is a dangerous place, even for -- perhaps, especially for -- the heavily armed men of Blackwater Worldwide Xe. That complicates the work of attorneys defending five Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisur Square in September 2007.
As U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina notes in a new ruling:
"This danger is only magnified for the defense team, given the notoriety of the Nisur Square shooting among the residents of Baghdad and the disdain with which the defense team’s cause is likely to be viewed by some in that city."
Judge Urbina, nonetheless, has now rejected the defense attorneys' request that he order the U.S. government to provide full-bore security services for the defense investigative team. As Judge Urbina noted:
"The defendants contend that they cannot conduct their investigation and have fair access to witnesses and evidence without security, which they cannot obtain in the war zone of Iraq without the government’s assistance. The defendants assert that American lawyers and investigators working in Iraq face mortal danger (especially) given the notoriety of this case in Baghdad."
Urbina, though, sided with the government in concluding that private security firms would be perfectly capable of protecting the Blackwater team.