Menacing the Mercenaries
The battle Blackwater Security, the favored private militia of the favored few, fears most is coming nearer. From the NC News & Observer:
A North Carolina-based security contractor lost a federal appeal Thursday in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the families of four men killed and publicly mutilated in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004
The decision by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., means that after a year and a half of motions and appeals, the lawsuit can move forward in Wake County Superior Court and that Blackwater Security Consulting will likely have to give up records and oral depositions about the incident, said Marc Miles, an attorney for the families.
That highlighted part is what they fear worst. And this news may be even better than it sounds..
A little background for those who may have gotten their Menagerie of Mercenaries a bit blurred in memory:
Blackwater's owner, millionaire and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, is well-connected in Washington and known for supporting conservative candidates and causes.
Why is this good news? Well, it seems Mr. Price's people may have gotten a little too used to having everything their own way. First they tried to get cutesey:
in the appeal to the 4th Circuit, Blackwater sought to have the case put back in federal court, saying it was too important to national security to be heard in state court. Alternatively, it asked for the case to be dismissed completely, arguing that no court has jurisdiction over what was essentially a U.S. military function.
This proved too stinky for even the 4th Circuit:
The 4th Circuit, meanwhile, is regarded by legal experts as the nation's most conservative federal appeals court. The court's long and detailed response, though, offered little help for the company.
Judge Allyson Kay Duncan, a Durham native who once taught law at N.C. Central University and who was appointed to the court by President Bush, wrote the decision.
In it, she dismissed some of Blackwater's logic as circular. "Distilled to their essence, Blackwater's arguments appear to be that we must have jurisdiction because we have no jurisdiction," she wrote.
Blackwater is a name I hope comes up in the next week's orgy of Katrina coverage. The class of people who can afford such things called in Blackwater to provide security in some areas of New Orleans, and some of them did not behave particularly well. That's a story for another time though. This case is about the ghosts of Fallujah.