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...


Following this incident the Department of State requested that the FBI investigate the shooting. The FBI's Washington Field Office deployed an investigative team to Baghdad for four weeks of evidence collection and investigation. The FBI was augmented by two agents from the Department Diplomatic Security Service and the Department of State.

To add to the difficulty in an already challenging case, FBI and Department of State personnel had to face the dangers of working extensively outside the green zone. They had to overcome language barriers and deal with cultural and religious sensitivities.

Since that first deployment to Baghdad , members of the investigative team, which included up to 10 special agents, returned to Iraq four additional times in furtherance of our investigation. The FBI utilized every resource available to ensure that a comprehensive and thorough investigation was conducted. Those resources included forensic specialists from the FBI laboratory, members of the Washington Field Office, extra territorial squad and the evidence response team, and Department of Justice Attorneys.

As a result of the tireless dedication and extraordinary efforts of the team, over 250 interviews were conducted and more than 200 pieces of physical evidence were obtained to support the investigation. As with most FBI investigations, we would not have been successful without the assistance of local law enforcement partners. We had the extreme good fortune of working with members of the Iraqi national police. The assistance provided by the Iraqi national police was instrumental to our success of our mission. These officers work under extraordinary challenging circumstances every day and I extend my gratitude to them.

In addition to the Iraqi National Police, the FBI was supported by many members of the United States military. Their assistance was invaluable in the protection of our personnel. The FBI's legal attache office in Baghdad and the U.S. embassy personnel provided unwavering support during each of our team's deployment to Iraq . The success of one of the FBI's most difficult investigations was truly a team effort with many components and challenges.

What was at stake here was not just an investigation into the allegations of the violation of federal law. But, more importantly, it was an investigation into the protection of basic human rights, that should be afforded to all people, not just citizens of the United States . The FBI is committed to investigating all allegations of violations of the rule of law and defending individual civil rights and civil liberties, whether at home or abroad.

Thank you very much.

MR. ROWAN: Thanks, Joe.

We can take some questions now, if you have any. Yes?

QUESTION: The defense is going to challenge you on venue, on jurisdiction under MEJA, also on the Garrity statements. What's the government's response to each of those issues, and can you talk about why you're charging the guards with 14 counts of manslaughter when 17 people were killed?

MR. ROWAN: Take the second question first. We obviously have an obligation to be able to prove every element in the offense, including the fact of a deceased victim. The 14 counts of manslaughter are what our current evidence supports. Our investigation is continuing but that's what we have charged currently.

The issues you raised, we will obviously be responding in court to the arguments that the defendants will make with respect to those issues. I will tell you as to venue there is a federal venue statute that indicates when a crime is committed outside the United States and outside any particular district that the defendant's trial may be conducted in the District of Columbia . So that provides us venue in this instance. In addition, it's the case that one of the joint offenders in this case, Ridgeway, who has already plead guilty, was arrested in the District in connection with his guilty plea. And, according to the venue statute, when joint offender is arrested in one district, that is an appropriate venue for the rest of the case to go forward in.