January 2, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 7:52 AM


To the Editor:  (NY Times , 1/01/21)

Re "Bullets Ravaged Iraqis. Pardons Renew the Pain" (front page, Dec. 24):

I was the F.B.I. case agent who led the investigation of the Blackwater massacre in Baghdad. We originally went to Iraq thinking this shooting was some form of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between Blackwater guards and insurgents. After only one week, we determined that this incident was not as presented by Blackwater personnel and their State Department lackeys, but it was a massacre along the lines of My Lai in Vietnam. Three of the guards were convicted of manslaughter and one of murder.

I only recently became aware of the concerted effort for the pardons, which I understand started with a political push by members of Congress. President Trump should have had staff members review the trial evidence that led to the convictions and read the judges' opinions and sentencing statements. God forbid they might have actually picked up the phone and called the investigators who built the case. I'm so disgusted with the president's actions!

Having spent many hours with the innocent Iraqi victims who are permanently maimed and crippled because of the actions of these Blackwater guards, and the heartbroken family members of those killed, I am embarrassed for our country. I believe we will pay a heavy price in our relationships with other countries as a result of these pardons.

I'm so glad that I'm retired and will never again be asked to risk my life and those of my fellow investigators, only to have killers pardoned for purely political reasons.

John M. Patarini
Charlotte, N.C.

Posted by orrinj at 7:46 AM


Homage to Catalonia (1938) by George Orwell: Vivid, partisan portrait of war (Brian Maye, 1/02/21, Irish Times)

He found the first talk of treachery and divided aims deeply disturbing. "It set up in my mind the first vague doubts about this war in which, hitherto, the rights and wrongs had seemed so beautifully simple." Animal Farm (1945), described as "his scintillating satire on Stalinism", was part of Orwell's response to what he considered the betrayal of the Spanish republic.

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 AM