Private Contractors

Misconduct Alleged in Blackwater Case

Defense lawyers for one of the five Blackwater security guards accused of killing 17 Iraqis in Baghdad are alleging misconduct by Justice Department prosecutors. In closed-door pretrial proceedings, the Justice Department recently sought to dismiss charges against Nicholas Slatten, though in a one-paragraph filing, it sought to preserve the possibility of filing new charges against him. Slatten's lawyers said they want to stop the Justice Department from doing so, and they want the issue aired in a public hearing. They say there is a fundamental lack of evidence against Slatten, and that the government repeatedly mischaracterized witness testimony and excluded evidence that ran in Slatten's favor from the grand jury that indicted him. The Justice Department didn't comment. Slatten, a former Army sniper, deployed to Iraq twice before joining Blackwater, which has been renamed Xe Corp. All five guards are charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, though the government isn't sure who shot which victims.