Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) took to Twitter on Saturday to blast President Donald Trump for his “disgraceful” pardons of four Blackwater guards who were convicted in the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians.
“In 2007, four Blackwater contractors opened fire in a crowded intersection in Baghdad, murdering 14 Iraqi civilians,” Omar tweeted. “This week, Donald Trump granted them unconditional pardons. This is a disgrace to our country and to the rule of law.”
Omar tweeted this alongside a link to an opinion piece that claimed that the pardons blur the line between justified wartime killing and murder.
In 2007, four Blackwater contractors opened fire in a crowded intersection in Baghdad, murdering 14 Iraqi civilians. This week, Donald Trump granted them unconditional pardons. This is a disgrace to our country and to the rule of law. https://t.co/fHilekSA8Z
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 26, 2020
The four men had been working as contractors for the U.S. State Department back in 2007 when they opened fire in a crowded traffic circle, killing fourteen Iraqis, including a child, and wounding seventeen others. The men claimed through their defense attorneys that they returned fire after being ambushed by Iraqi insurgents, according to Fox News.
Nicholas Slatten was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder, with prosecutors saying that he was the first to fire unprovoked. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were each convicted of manslaughter in 2014. Trump’s White House defended the pardons by saying that they were “broadly supported by the public.”
“Mr. Slatten, Mr. Slough, Mr. Liberty, and Mr. Heard have a long history of service to the Nation. Mr. Slatten was inspired to serve his country after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and served two tours in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division,” the White House said in a statement. “Mr. Slough served in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq with his National Guard unit. Mr. Liberty served in the United States Marine Corps and protected United States Embassies abroad. Mr. Heard served in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Trump’s White House continued:
These veterans were working in Iraq in 2007 as security contractors responsible for securing the safety of United States personnel. When the convoy attempted to establish a blockade outside the “Green Zone,” the situation turned violent, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths and injuries of Iraqi civilians. Initial charges against the men were dismissed, but they were eventually tried and convicted on charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.
On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence should have been presented at Mr. Slatten’s trial. Further, prosecutors recently disclosed—more than 10 years after the incident—that the lead Iraqi investigator, who prosecutors relied heavily on to verify that there were no insurgent victims and to collect evidence, may have had ties to insurgent groups himself.
Omar is a radically progressive liberal who has been highly critical of Trump since he took office.