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...

QUESTION: Can you speak to the Garrity statements?

MR. ROWAN: Well, we fully expect that the defendants will raise the issue of Garrity, that there were statements that were compelled that would somehow taint our efforts thereafter. It's something that we understand will be an issue, something we've been working long and hard to deal with for a considerable period of time, and something we expect to win when we finally go to court on that issue.

QUESTION: But why do you expect to win it?

MR. ROWAN: Well, as I said, we've been very careful and very painstaking in the way we have investigated this case, the way we have assembled evidence. We know where our evidence comes from and we fully expect to prevail when the court hears that issue.

QUESTION: Can I ask whether you considered the consequences of bringing these charges? Obviously, your job is to enforce the law, but did you have to consider what the potential consequences of your actions today are such as whether it will make it more difficult to recruit contractors in war zones?

Whether it will make it particularly difficult going forward if the potential defendants in such cases have to be prosecuted by Iraqi authorities, and things like that. Were those factors in deciding what charges to bring?

MR. ROWAN: Our focus was obviously on what the defendants did that day and whether or not there were violations of U.S. law. We take no satisfaction, as I believe Jeff said, in charging individuals whose job it was to protect U.S. personnel over in Iraq . We have a great deal of respect for the work they do. But I think that as Jeff also indicated, and then I would hope people would recognize, this is a narrow indictment.

There were 19 Blackwater personnel who are part of the four-truck convoy involved in this incident there at Nisur Square. Most of them acted very responsibly. We've charged six, between those who've been charged and the one who pled guilty, and there are six involved in this. So I think that from that alone, there's a demonstration we have been judicious in the way we have investigated and charged this case.

I think when the evidence comes out at trial, everyone will understand much better how it was that we made the decision we made, and will understand that this is a unique incident which required prosecution. Yes?

QUESTION: Since the Obama Justice Department will inherit this case along with its legal difficulties, did you brief the transition on the case? Did you ask them to sign off on the evidence?

MR. ROWAN: No. We did not. I think our ordinary policy in criminal matters is we move forward with those cases. When they're ready to be charged, we charge them and we proceed forward. We followed that policy in this case.

QUESTION: It's always tricky to bring charges when you have the heat of the battle. But is it your contention here that even taking that into account this conduct was so outrageous that it overcomes any doubt that might arise in situations of combat?

MR. ROWAN: Yes. The charge that we've leveled, the first charge in the indictment is voluntary manslaughter which in the code talks about the notion that this is an unlawful killing upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. Now that's the actual language of the statute, but what it captures is the idea that there may be mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense itself. And in this case, of course, these offenses occurred in a difficult situation, and so that was taken into account in the way this case was charged.

QUESTION: So, to put it positively, taking into account that there were emotional factors here, what does this tell us about the fact that you've decided to bring these charges, nonetheless?

MR. ROWAN: Well, it should tell you that we think that notwithstanding those factors, we believe that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate the defendants were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that we thought it was appropriate to bring the case; and, obviously, more importantly, the grand jury thought it was appropriate to prove the charges.