“In 2007, four Blackwater contractors opened fire in a crowded intersection in Baghdad, murdering 14 Iraqi civilians,” the progressive “Squad” member, who came to the U.S. from Somalia as a refugee when she was a youth. “This week, Donald Trump granted them unconditional pardons. This is a disgrace to our country and to the rule of law.”
Her tweet included a link to an opinion piece claiming the pardons blur the line between murder and justified wartime killing.
The four men were working as U.S. State Department contractors in 2007 when they opened fire in a crowded traffic circle — killing 14 Iraqis, including a child. Another 17 were hurt. The men’s defense lawyers argued that they returned fire after being ambushed by Iraqi insurgents.
Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors said he was the first to fire without provocation.
Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted of manslaughter in 2014 after a months-long trial in federal court in Washington.
A White House statement announcing the president’s Dec. 22 pardons said the decision had widespread public support, adding the men have a “long history of service to the Nation.”
The president was criticized by others including the United Nations Human Rights Office, which wrote in a statement: “Pardoning them contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also rebuked the pardons as well as those granted to others, such as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“Lie to cover up for the president? You get a pardon. Corrupt politician who endorsed Trump? You get a pardon. Murder innocent civilians? You get a pardon. Elect a corrupt man as president? You get a corrupt result,” he tweeted.
Supporters of the former guards argued that the punishment was excessive and the prosecution was tainted. The White House, in its statement announcing the pardons, said the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found that additional evidence should have been presented at Slatten’s trial.
The pardons were among dozens the president has issued in the final days of his term.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.