Friday, June 8, 2007

Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story

AlterNet: :
The following article is by the lawyers representing the families of four American contractors who worked for Blackwater and were killed in Fallujah. After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet.

Raleigh, NC -- The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men's estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court.

Following these gruesome deaths which were broadcast on worldwide television, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and politically-connected Erik Prince.

Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter- Terrorist Center.

After filing its suit against the dead men's estates, Blackwater demanded that its claim and the families' existing lawsuit be handled in a private arbitration. By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to move the examination of their wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public and away from a jury. This comes at the same time when Congress is investigating Blackwater.


ADDITION: Note that, as indicated above, this is authored by lawyers representing the families, and no doubt reflects their perspective. I'm in no position to vouch for this, or any other, version of the facts of this story. Maybe others can. The names of some of the players allegedly involved makes this worth posting, IMHO, absent compelling refutation.

1 comment:

scar'd said...

This story is outrageous, and everyone's heart goes out to the families. But Callahan and Miles (the guys who wrote the story) are trying to take you to the cleaners. These guys are California personal injury lawyers who took the case on a contingency--the families aren't paying lawyer bills! Even if they were, it says right in the fine print of this story (and in the court documents themselves) that the claims are against the lawyer running the estates and against the estates--the families aren't even parties to the case!! These are mega-rich lawyers, who brag on their website about one case alone where they won almost a BILLION dollars (http://www.callahan-law.com/victories.php?select=26). They are just trying to get you to give them money out of sympathy for the poor families and/or hatred of Bush and his cronies. Here's what I propose: If you check out the facts (not blogs!) on this and you believe the families are paying lawyer bills, donate your heart out. BUT, if you see that these two yayhoos are just trying to line their pockets and get MORE rich off your nickel, do this: make a donation so the families know you support 'em, but make it only a penny. Enough one cent donations, and these ambulance chasers will get the message that they are no better than Blackwater.