Evidence Collection

We've all seen enough drama TV to know that securing an area after an event is critical. Evidence must be preserved, witnesses must be isolated, etc. Some have suggested that there was no way for this area to have been secured for the preservation of evidence. 

Funny thing is, throughout this entire ordeal, most of the Feds have relied HEAVILY on the Iraqi version of events. Hundreds of Iraqi police and army flooded this area just after we left. The government relied heavily on video taken by the Iraqis as they entered the area. That video shows Iraqis picking up and moving evidence, Iraqis walking all through the area, and even shows an Iraqi vehicle running over shell casings on the ground. 

(Side note: The ONLY victims shown on this tape...taken minutes after the Raven 23 team left...were the 2 individuals in the white car, which they initially, justifiably and rightly identified as a legitimate threat risk. ... Really, where is the immediate evidence of this horrific massacre? (See the burning car photo, which was taken PRIOR to the Iraqi police video). The defense has asked and asked and asked this question - yet no one can answer.)

Now, you're the American government, and you are relying on the Iraqi version of events, and trusting that the little amount of evidence that you found days later was the only evidence...yet you also rely on the Iraqi video, clearly showing how they destroyed the scene and evidence.

How does that even make sense to American legal or investigative personnel?

It doesn't. But it goes to show you how these prosecutors and investigators had to suspend their own method of case development in order to get this prosecuted the way they did.

How could investigators NOT hold the Iraqis accountable for not securing the scene? Forget anything else ... Reasonable doubt started at that very moment. Rather than using the Iraq video, they should have questioned it, then discarded it. They could not explain the "cuts" in the video, only to say the film was turned off then on as the videographer moved through. What?

We cannot post it here, but there is drone footage (trial evidence) which showed our diplomatic team escorting their shaken-up USAID worker back to camp, and then the drone "jumps" to the traffic circle after we left, after the fire in the white car was extinguished. But where is the intervening drone footage?

Part of the biggest problem in this case is that this event...at the time, it was NO BIG DEAL. Firefights like this occurred regularly, and both sides were used to it. The Americans move on to complete their mission, and the Iraqis run to the Embassy to collect their money for damages done. Standard Operating Procedure. Later, as the Iraqis began adding to the body and damaged-car totals, it became unbelievable. No one out there that day saw the kind of damage that the Iraqis claimed...and the Feds believed.

(Side note: one alleged victim was literally sitting in his living room watching TV when he saw the equivalent of a Saiontz & Kirk ad..."if you have been injured...call 1-800..." This is how he got "justice" for losing his child. Whole other story.)

What made this different was that another TST heard we had a tow-out situation and were still taking fire, so after they escorted the diplomatic protection detail safely back to camp, they headed out to assist the team in getting out of the square. By the time they arrived, however, Raven 23 had pulled out, and the Iraqis had flooded the area. One Iraqi (who later wanted to be a star witness) ran to the Iraqi Colonel on scene and insisted the responding team was us, returning. The Iraqis took an offensive position surrounding this team, we're talking looking down the barrel of a .50 cal, truck-mounted Dishka, offensive. This part of the story didn't much make it into the trial because it didn't directly affect the actions of our guys, but it does give background into how all this turned from an ordinary to an extraordinary event. If people want more details (and they are fascinating), we can discuss it in another post.