Morning Security Brief: Former Blackwater Guards Back on Trial, U.S. Supports Foreign Police, and Texas Advances Terrorism Bill
A manslaughter case against former Blackwater guards has been reinstated by a federal court; the United States spends billions training and equipping foreign police forces; and Texas legislators consider a comprehensive homeland security bill.
♦ A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit (U.S. v. Slough) charging four Blackwater guards with manslaughter in a September 2007 shooting in Iraq. While protecting U.S. diplomats, the security guards opened fire on a crowded Iraqi street, killing 17 people. The case was thrown out in 2009 by a federal judge who ruled that the U.S. Justice Department mishandled the case and tainted evidence. In the new ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the case must be reheard and the supposed evidence against each guard reexamined. (Blackwater has since changed its name to Xe.)
♦ The United States spent $3.5 billion to train and equip foreign police forces in 2009, according to a report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO). The amount spent on foreign police has risen significantly since 1990 when the GAO last studied the issue. In 1990, the United States spent about $180 million, a figure adjusted for inflation. Seven federal agencies are responsible for the expenditures, with the Department of Defense and Department of State accounting for 97 percent of the funds. The spending is necessary, according to these agencies, to fight terrorists and drug traffickers in other countries.
♦ Legislators in the Texas Senate have approved a bill (S.B. 9 ) that proponents say will strengthen homeland security efforts by law enforcement. Under the bill, all state law enforcement agencies would be required to compare the fingerprints of anyone arrested to federal databases to determine whether the person should be deported. The bill includes numerous other initiatives, including a license-plate reader program and a special unit of Texas Rangers dedicated to assisting during disasters.