Chapter 9 – The Mock Turtle’s Story
The Queen never left off quarrelling with the other players, and shouting “Off with his head!” or “Off with her head!” Those whom she sentenced were taken into custody … so that, by the end of half an hour or so… all the players, except the King, the Queen, and Alice, were in custody and under sentence of execution. …
“It’s all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know.”
We’ve been looking at contractor/mercenary (your choice) accountability, discussing in previous parts the Blackwater Christmas Eve shooting and immunity, the UCMJ, and civilian crimes. This week, we ask why we don’t see more contractor prosecutions. The answer may be unknowable, but idealist, pragmatist, and pessimist considerations will be laid out in this chapter.
Statistics play a role in the contractor accountability debate as well.
The most vocal critic of private security is as good an example as any. In March of 2007, Mr. Scahill was claiming: “It’s like the Wild West over there. And there are numerous reports of extraordinary violence being committed on the part of contractors. Yet there are no prosecutions.”
Of course, in the same interview, he says “In reality, only one contractor has been indicted for any crime or violation in
A few weeks later he writes: “Despite the tens of thousands of contractors passing through
And by May 2007 the testimony was: “In four years, there have been no prosecutions for crimes against Iraqis committed by contractors and not a single known prosecution of an armed contractor. That either means that we have tens of thousands of boy scouts working as armed contractors or something is fundamentally wrong with the system.”
This may be living proof of the old saw, “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” Let’s assume these factual assertions are indeed fact, and consider what they tell us.
The assertions above are intended to support the argument that there is “zero accountability.” But, they also reflect a move from zero contractor prosecutions, to one, then two, and then, as the original soundbite lost steam, a careful parsing to distinguish between “good” contractors and “evil” private security and thereby maintain the “no accountability” riff.
So is it possible that the wheels of justice here in
By the end of 2006, DoJ was just getting around to releasing its annual Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics—for 2004. According to the Compendium, the Speedy Trial Act requires that indictment occur within 30 days of arrest, and the government must be ready for trial within 70 days. Because defendants can waive those rights, the average time from indictment to trial completion in reality is 9.5 months.
But that time is just the tip of the iceberg, because the time period of interest for us begins with the crime itself. It is the total time from crime to trial.
Given the Speedy Trial Act incentive to delay arrest until the case is effectively ready for trial (a/k/a until the last possible moment), the total time is presumably something well in excess of 9.5 months.
Unfortunately, although the FBI tracks crime in mind-numbing statistical detail, there appears to be no government tracking of crime-to-indictment timeframes, or average duration of federal criminal investigations. (Um, yeah. I’m gonna need you to just visit all 94 federal criminal district court dockets and compile a chart of crime-to-indictment times for us since 2004. Alright.)
It is possible, however, to get some feel for the timeline of a violent crime case by looking at anecdotal examples. Let’s look at cases ‘ripped from the headlines’ this week.
A typical happens-every-day kind of crime is the somewhat widely noted Pizza Delivery Bomb-Collar case. The attempted robbery took place on August 28, 2003, yet indictments related to this masterpiece of criminal super-genius did not occur until last week—nearly four years later.
The suitcase-stuffing husband-hacker … killing in April 2004, sentenced July 2007.
Recidivist child-molesting murderer John Evander Couey—Why do these freaks always go by their full name? And why, until now, do so many of them have the middle name
Polygamist sect leader Warren Steed Jeffs … conduct 2003, indictment last week.
We leave it to the reader to dig up your own examples regarding maimings by a neighbor’s angry pet wolverine, berserk homeowner attacks on overly persistent Jehovah’s Witnesses, or whatever other crime blows up your dress.
Those who are joining The Rabbit in our campaign for critical thinking realize that any limited string of isolated incidents like this does not establish reasonable investigatory delay as a proven element of the contractor-indictment story.
Nonetheless, it does show that meaningful delays before prosecution are not uncommon, to say the least.
Further, in keeping with our statistics motif, there are statistics from foreign systems which are somewhat instructive, although they have different due process and procedural protections of rights.
For example, while I personally would not go out and seek to be tried in the Bulgarian justice system, crime to trial there runs 683 days. One
Again, nowhere near enough data to push the hypothesis to theory status or full-on principle. However, there clearly is support for the argument that contractor cases have begun wending their way through the legal system, and more should be expected. Although this point is at best a small part of the picture regarding contractor accountability, it is one that should reasonably be factored in to the debate over contractor accountability.
The Idealist believes in the rule of law, that due process and procedural safeguards are important, and that it may be slow but ultimately justice will prevail.
Unfortunately, those seeking to make political hay on this issue apparently expect a thorough investigation, indictment, trial, sentencing and imprisonment in about as much time as it takes you to read this sentence. This ain’t CSI: Tikrit, brother.
Next time: Even more statistics with The Pragmatist.
Warning: Pure Opinion Follows. The unholy triad of the idealist/pragmatist/pessimist considerations has its antithesis in the fascinating blogosphere claims (which I read 238.4 times this week while researching this post) that the lack of mercenary punishment is due to some massive Rothschildesque Illuminati cabal secretly arranging collusion between the entire U.S. law enforcement and justice systems and the PSC arm of the politico-military-industrial complex. Hey conspirists, news flash: Dateline: U.N. One World Government Directorate: The Christmas Eve shooter is like the dude in the red shirt on a Star Trek landing party. He is like the third jumpsuited henchman on the left in the secret underground lair. If he’s guilty, then no one gives a crap if this cat ends up starring in his own personal live-action gay-porn version of Cellblock: Cornhole Armageddon II. I mean, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, well liked by his momma, his high school wrestling coach, and his podiatrist, but it seems to us that if anyone thinks that the PMIC, the PSC industry, or Blackwater is going through machinations to ensure ‘he goes free for murder’ they need to put down the crack pipe. Any rational actor—admittedly a concept that escapes wild-eyed nutjobs stinking of bongwater—whether driven by patriotism or by avarice, would want him to go to jail, if he is guilty, if for no other reason than to spin the accountability PR. Plus, then they (and all the rest of us) wouldn’t have to listen to you endlessly run your piehole about him. And, after this post, about the fact that The Rabbit is a secret front for The Syndicate. Ooops, you discovered us. Foiled again. Curses.