Well it is good to be back home and I have been playing catch up on the latest news coming from the PMSC world. On Facebook and Linkedin I have been able to connect with lots of great people and friends, and I have been getting some outstanding information from the community.
For my first post on the blog I found this outstanding organization being run by the friends and family of Raven 23 and I wanted to get their message out there. For those that do not know who Raven 23 are, here is a quick run down of what happened to them from their support website.
Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, Nick Slatten and Evan Liberty set out with 15 of their Blackwater teammates as part of Tactical Support Team Raven 23, to secure a busy square in Baghdad’s Red Zone. Blackwater, under contract with the U.S. Department of State, was responsible (among other things) for diplomatic security in the country of Iraq.
Raven 23 was responding to a distress call from another team which had been attacked on venue. In the distance, they could see the large plume of black smoke where a VBIED (vehicle-born improvised explosive device) had been detonated. They were to secure a route of egress through Nisour Square, which was a task they had completed numerous times previously; a seemingly straightforward task. Unfortunately, things haven’t been straightforward since.
After all four vehicles in the convoy had taken up their positions in the square, a white Kia lurched out of stopped traffic towards the convoy, and the security team used escalating force to stop the vehicle. They had to consider the risk of this vehicle also being a VBIED very seriously, as coordinated attacks were on the rise. There was a pattern developing where enemy forces would make an attack for the sole purpose of perpetrating a second, larger attack on responding forces. Eight team members, not including the four defendants, testified that they either perceived the white Kia to be a threat, or that they agreed that from other points of view in the convoy that it could be perceived a threat. No one should have been convicted of anything related to the white Kia based on this testimony alone, but that is only a fraction of the story.
The four vehicles were set up in a moon shape stretching along the southern side of the traffic circle. The third vehicle (the Command Vehicle), which contained three of the defendants (Liberty, Slatten & Slough) was facing directly into the south of the square, broadside to all oncoming traffic in that direction.
Almost simultaneously to the white Kia threat, the convoy began receiving incoming small arms fire (AK-47), disabling the Command Vehicle which subsequently had to be towed. The side of the vehicle was pock marked by the incoming fire, and a teammate in the vehicle behind began yelling that they were taking contact (fire) from people dressed as Iraqi Police. Whether or not they were actually employed as Iraqi Police we will never know, as IP uniforms are as readily available in the street markets of Iraq as fake designer bags are on the side streets of Washington, D.C.
All of the incoming fire, and the fact that it was coming from people dressed as Iraqi Police, was documented on the team’s contact logs. To believe that the team was not under attack would be to believe that multiple individuals either scripted the entire thing in advance or that they ad-libbed an entire attack while simultaneously participating in a one-sided gunfight, both of which are entirely ludicrous, and contrary to eyewitness testimony and physical evidence.
A complicated firefight ensued as the team hooked up a tow rope from one vehicle to the other, and tried to exit the circle to the north. The exit was made even more complicated by the fact that part of the circle was closed to traffic due to repairs being made from a VBIED just a few months prior. Eventually, almost ten minutes later, the team was able to exit the circle and return to the Green Zone.
What I wanted to share was the touching and impactful video that the friends and family put together, to present their side of the case. To highlight the politics, and the inconsistencies presented by the prosecution. The full weight and force of the US government legal system was brought to bear on these men, and I feel it is only right to present their side of the whole deal.
If you feel like supporting Free Raven 23, I have provided some links to their website and FB page. From there you can sign petitions and donate money to help out the families. –Matt
Website for Free Raven 23 here.
Facebook page for Free Raven 23 here.