A controversial Democrat, who openly holds extremist political views, described a presidential act of compassion as an international embarrassment.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) criticized President Donald Trump for pardoning security guards who allegedly opened fire after an Iraqi convoy ambushed them at Nisour Square in Baghdad.
Omar criticized Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard for carrying out their duty to protect U.S. citizens from what at the time seemed to be a hostile and potentially life-threatening situation.
“In 2007, four Blackwater contractors opened fire in a crowded intersection in Baghdad, murdering 14 Iraqi civilians,” she said on Twitter. “This week, Donald Trump granted them unconditional pardons. This is a disgrace to our country and to the rule of law.”
Despite the trio’s perceived danger and prior authorization to use firearms, a federal court in Washington still convicted them of manslaughter back in 2014 because the convoy was allegedly unarmed. Nicholas Slatten and the three security guards were found guilty of first-degree murder and served a life sentence without parole.
In an act of leniency, the president granted the men and 12 other individuals full pardons because the veterans were “broadly supported by the public.”
“Mr. Slatten, Mr. Slough, Mr. Liberty, and Mr. Heard have a long history of service to the nation,” the president said in a statement. “Mr. Slatten was inspired to serve his country after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and served two tours in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. Mr. Slough served in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq with his National Guard unit. Mr. Liberty served in the U.S. Marine Corps and protected U.S. embassies abroad. Mr. Heard served in the U.S. Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
President Trump described the death of 14 Iraqi citizens as a tragedy that the convoy should have shared responsibility for.
“When the convoy attempted to establish a blockade outside the ‘Green Zone,’ the situation turned violent, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths and injuries of Iraqi civilians,” he said. “Initial charges against the men were dismissed but they were eventually tried and convicted on charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.”
The president expressed concern about the transparency of the U.S. judiciary system after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals admitted during the appeals process that further evidence should have been presented at Slatten’s trial.
“Further, prosecutors recently disclosed—more than 10 years after the incident—that the lead Iraqi investigator, who prosecutors relied heavily on to verify that there were no insurgent victims and to collect evidence, may have had ties to insurgent groups himself,” he said. “These veterans were working in Iraq in 2007 as security contractors responsible for securing the safety of United States personnel.”