Transcript of Blackwater Press Conference

WASHINGTON , Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of the Blackwater press conference: 12:05 P.M. EST ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL PATRICK ROWAN : Good afternoon. My name is Pat Rowan and I'm the...


WASHINGTON , Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of the Blackwater press conference:

12:05 P.M. EST

ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL PATRICK ROWAN : Good afternoon. My name is Pat Rowan and I'm the Assistant Attorney General for National Security here at the Department of Justice. I'm joined on the stage by Jeff Taylor , the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia , and Joseph Persichini, Jr. , the Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. I'm also joined today by Jon Malis and Ken Kohl , the prosecutors on this case.

I'll provide some brief remarks and then turn over the podium to Jeff and Joe for further comment. Afterwards, we'll be happy to take some questions.

We're here today to announce that a 35-count indictment has been unsealed in the District of Columbia . As you are aware, an indictment is merely a formal charging document notifying a defendant of the charges against him or her. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The indictment unsealed charges five Blackwater security guards with voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and weapons violations, for their alleged roles in the September 16, 2007 , shooting at Nisur Square in Baghdad, Iraq .

Specifically, the defendants are charged with killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 other individuals in connection with this event. In addition, we can report that a sixth Blackwater security guard has pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same shooting. This guilty plea also was unsealed today.

While there were dangers in Baghdad in September 2007 , there were also ordinary people going about their lives, performing mundane daily tasks, like making their way through a crowded traffic circle.

For the safety of these people, as well as U.S. government personnel and their own colleagues, security guards were obligated to refrain from firing their powerful weapons except when necessary for self-defense. The documents unsealed today allege that these six men disregard that obligation, and in doing so, violated U.S. law.

The consequences were devastating. The government alleges today that at least 34 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed or injured without justification or provocation by these security guards in the shooting at Nisur Square.

Today's indictment and guilty plea should serve as a reminder that those who engaged in unprovoked and illegal attacks on civilians, whether during times of conflict or times of peace, will be held accountable.

I'd like to thank the FBI for its tremendous work investigating this crime, as well as the prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the National Security Division, for their efforts in bringing this case. I'd also like to thank Iraqi authorities for their assistance in this matter.

I'd now like to turn it over to Jeff Taylor .

U.S. ATTORNEY JEFFREY TAYLOR : Thank you, Pat. Good morning, everyone. As Pat mentioned, the 35-count indictment that was unsealed today charges five security guards of Blackwater Worldwide with manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and weapons violations for their alleged roles in the tragic September 16, 2007 , shooting at Nisur Square in Baghdad, Iraq . Nisur Square is located just outside a fortified area of central Baghdad known as the International Zone, more commonly as the Green Zone, where most if not all of the foreign embassies in Iraq are located, including the United States Embassy.

As set forth in the indictment, the five defendants were all employed by the Armed Forces outside the United States . Specifically, the defendants worked as independent contractors and employees of Blackwater Worldwide, a company contracted by the Department of State to provide personal security services related to supporting the Department of Defense in the Republic of Iraq , within the meaning of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, or MEJA.

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