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Criminal Charges Won’t be Filed Against Former Blackwater Employee

Federal prosecutors announced that they will not file charges against Andrew J. Moonen, a former Blackwater employee, due to insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt in the death of Raheem Saadoun. Raheem Saadoun was a security guard for Iraq’s vice president. On December 25, 2006, he was shot by Moonen, who had been drinking after a Christmas party, near the Iraqi prime minister’s compound. Moonen asserted he killed Saadoun in self-defense. Federal prosecutors said that certain forensic evidence was not available in the war zone. This incident was kept out of Moonen’s personnel record and he was hired by another private security company.

This case illustrates the difficulty in enforcing the law in a war zone. Besides the complications of figuring out which legal standards apply, prosecution of suspects like Moonen involves considerations of politics as well as the difficulty of conducting investigations in the middle of a war. If the incident happened in the United States, the prosecutor’s decision may have been different because evidence would be available to put together a case. The fact that Moonen was carrying around a gun while intoxicated would have probably brought about political pressure to prosecute him. Another interesting consideration is there seems to be no negative effects for Moonen because of the incident. The State Department and Blackwater choose to leave the incident out of Moonen’s personnel record which allowed him to get another job two months after he was fired. The victim’s family was compensated by Blackwater with $20,000.

The decision by federal prosecutors will probably shake the faith of the Iraqi people and government in the United States’ resolve to establish order in Iraq. The attack highly discredited the legitimacy of having Blackwater as an actor in Iraq. The fact that Moonen was drunk made the killing appear at least grossly negligent or reckless. The Iraqi people may not understand or care that the prosecutors could not establish a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. This decision will probably be difficult to accept in Iraqi’s developing justice system.

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