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October 21, 2015

Attorney General Lynch Recognizes Blackwater Prosecution Team with Award for Distinguished Service

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today recognized a team from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the FBI’s Washington Field Office for the successful prosecution of four former security guards for Blackwater USA on charges stemming from their roles in the Sept. 16, 2007, shooting at Nisur Square in Baghdad, Iraq, that resulted in the killing of 14 unarmed civilians and the wounding of numerous others.

The team members were among 279 Justice Department employees and 33 individuals outside of the department to receive Attorney General Awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Today’s 63rd annual ceremony recognized individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the missions of the Department of Justice.

The team that worked on the Blackwater investigation was honored with the award for Distinguished Service, one of the Justice Department’s highest honors.

“The individuals being honored today stand out within a department that holds all of its employees and partners to an extremely high standard of excellence,” said Attorney General Lynch. “They have put in long hours, made immense sacrifices and, in some cases, placed themselves in harm’s way. They have taken on issues that once seemed intractable, and made progress on problems that once seemed impossible. And their outstanding work is an inspiration to public servants everywhere.”

“These awards reflect the unwavering dedication to justice displayed by lawyers and support staff of our Office and others across the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “The Nisur Square shooting presented a test as to whether our criminal justice system was capable of holding these American contractors accountable for their criminal acts overseas against foreign nationals. Those who worked on this case persevered through years of incredibly challenging work to prosecute those responsible for the shooting of innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians, securing convictions that reaffirmed the commitment of the American people to the rule of law.”

“It took an enormous amount of investigative expertise, persistence and fortitude to ensure that justice and accountability was attained in this case,” stated Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The team’s ability to overcome each of the monumental challenges faced is a testament to their remarkable skill and unwavering commitment to ensuring the rule of law is faithfully applied. These individuals showed tremendous courage, dedication and integrity in following through on the successful pursuit of justice.”

The Distinguished Service Award is one of the Justice Department’s highest honors for employee performance. Recipients exemplify the highest commitment to the Justice Department’s mission. The team members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office who were honored today include: Jonathan M. Malis, Chief of the Criminal Division; T. Patrick Martin, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division; Gregg A. Maisel, Chief of the National Security Section; Kenneth C. Kohl, Deputy Chief of the National Security Section; Jay I. Bratt, former Deputy Chief of the National Security Section; Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Crabb, Jr., Christopher R. Kavanaugh, and David Mudd; former Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion; and Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant. Mr. Bratt and Mr. Asuncion are now Deputy Chiefs with the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and Mr. Kavanaugh is now with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Virginia.

Other team members who were recognized today include Attorney Demetra Lambros, of the Appellate Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Brian M. Rasmussen, formerly the FBI’s Assistant Legal Attaché (ALAT) in Baghdad and now Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, and Special Agents Marc Daniel Hess, Jeremy David Moore, Thomas F. O’Connor, and Katrice Stubbs, of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Those honored today represented a much larger group from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and other agencies that played an integral part in the extraordinary and unprecedented investigation and subsequent trial. These many contributors showed remarkable professionalism, tenacity, and courage throughout the investigation and prosecution of the security guards who were accused of taking part in the shooting in and around Nisur Square, a busy traffic circle in the heart of Baghdad. Those killed included 10 men, two women, and two boys, ages 9 and 11. At least another 18 victims were injured.

The four security guards who stood trial worked for Blackwater USA, a private security contractor that was paid by the U.S. government to provide protective services to U.S. officials. They were found guilty by a jury on Oct. 22, 2014, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Over the course of 11 weeks, the government presented testimony from 71 witnesses, including over 30 from Iraq. This represented the largest group of foreign witnesses ever to travel to the United States for a criminal trial. The witnesses included 13 people who were wounded in the shootings, as well as relatives of many of those who died. The government’s witnesses also included nine members of “Raven 23,” the Blackwater team that was on the scene on the day of the shootings, including one former security guard who pled guilty in December 2008.

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