In Iraq, at least two Iraqi families say they’ve turned down a compensation offer from the private military firm Blackwater for killing their loved ones. Seventeen Iraqi civilians died when Blackwater guards opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisour square on September 16th. The father of a slain nine-year old boy told ABC News he’s rejected a twenty-thousand dollar offer for his son’s murder. The man says he plans to take Blackwater to court. Another Iraqi who lost his wife and son says he has also turned down an identical offer. Adel Jabur Shamma, who was bed-ridden for six months, says he accepted a ten thousand dollar payment because he had no other choice. No charges have yet to be filed in the Blackwater case amidst ongoing legal uncertainty over whether anyone involved can even be brought to trial.
Soldier Deaths Lead to Probe of KBR
The Pentagon has announced a probe of whether more than a dozen fatal electrocutions of U.S. soldiers in Iraq can be linked to faulty construction at U.S. military bases. Vice President Dick Cheney’s former firm KBR
U.S. Toll in Iraq Approaches 4,000
Meanwhile the U.S. military death toll in Iraq continues to approach the four 4,000 mark with 3,992 U.S. troops killed. In Washington, Iraq war veteran Phil Aliff said the military is being demoralized by repeated tours.
Phil Aliff: “I think it’s incredibly demoralising to be asked to go back to Iraq for your third, fourth, fifth deployment and have to watch more friends die, more casualties being mounted up on a war that we were given false pretenses to go in the first place. And so I think that to honour the memory of those that have died in Iraq and to honour our soldiers that are still over there, I think we have to bring our brothers and sisters home immediately.”
Ex-SLA Member Released from Jail
Back in the United States, a former radical turned fugitive has been released from prison after a seven-year term. Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group best known for kidnapping the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Olson was arrested in 1999 after living underground for 25 years. She pleaded guilty to taking part in two attempts to bomb the Los Angeles Police Department in 1975, but later proclaimed her innocence.
U.S. Immigration Agent Arrested for Sexual Blackmail
And here in New York, a U.S. immigration agent has been arrested after he was caught demanding sexual acts from a Colombian woman in return for granting her a green card. The agent, Isaac Baichu, has handled more than eight thousand immigrant applications during his career. The woman recorded Baichu making his demands, which included performing oral sex on the spot so he could know quote that she was “serious.” The case is among several known instances of sexual blackmail in the immigration process in recent years. Analysts say the actual number of cases could be far higher. Baichu faces seven years in prison.