One of the four former Blackwater contractors pardoned by Donald Trump is defending killing innocent women and children in Nisour Square in 2007.
In his first interview since his release from prison with the Associated Press, Evan Liberty defended his actions saying: “I feel like I acted correctly. I regret any innocent loss of life, but I’m just confident in how I acted and I can basically feel peace with that.”
Liberty and three other Blackwater contractors Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough and Dustin Heard — who have all received pardons from Donald Trump —were convicted by a federal jury in 2014 for their roles in the 2007 killings of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians after they opened fire in Nisour Square traffic circle in Baghdad. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashing “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
News of their pardons was meet with swift criticism. General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the top US officials in charge of US foreign policy in Iraq at the time of the killings, said Trump’s pardons are “hugely damaging, an action that tells the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes with impunity”.
Liberty says he understands why people might be angry but that’s due to a misguided narrative of the shooting. He told AP: “I didn’t shoot at anybody that wasn’t shooting at me.” Liberty said he and the others would “never take an innocent life. We responded to a threat accordingly.”
But prosecutors asserted there has been no evidence to support this account. Many of victims, like nine-year-old Ali Kinani, were shot while in their cars, at the traffic circle, or while attempting to flee the scene.
On Wednesday, the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries said Trump’s pardons of the men violated international law. They called the pardons an affront to justice and the victims of the attack.