Day 5: The Reported Victims

We’re glad you’re back for day five of our week-long Free Raven 23 Fact Series: What You Should Know About the Raven 23 Case. Today’s post deals with a tough subject: the victims of Nisur Square.

A line every member of the Free Raven 23 team tries to walk is advocating for our men while being respectful of the innocent victims who were killed or wounded in Nisur Square. Our hearts truly do go out to the wounded and the families of those people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid a price that is all too often paid in war. Still, we challenge the alleged number of victims—14 dead; 17 wounded.

How could we not? The Iraqi government solicited victims by running ticker ads on television, in the middle of a war, when it was common knowledge that anyone injured by our military or contractors would receive payments from the United States Government. We also have pictures and video of the scene immediately after Raven 23 left. Entirely missing from either is evidence of 14 dead, 17 wounded.

And, critically, not a single bullet or bullet fragment pulled from an alleged victim or alleged victim’s vehicle matches any of our men’s weapons. Backing up the total lack of physical evidence linking our men to any crime, witnesses who were in Nisur Square the day of the incident have come forward about what they saw, and it was not 14 dead, 17 wounded. Credible accounts such as these sit in stark comparison to statements from alleged Iraqi “witnesses” whose accounts were clearly orchestrated (right down to their identical written statements) by the lead investigator for the Iraqi National Police.

Even the best evidence that the government could produce at trial fell woefully short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the “massacre”-sized numbers the government alleged. For example, one alleged victim couldn’t even be placed in Nisur Square and another was at least a 15-minute walk away, close to where another unrelated shooting took place.

And, if these were not enough, there are even more examples of alleged victims that simply do not add up.

While we have always been outspoken that the victim count is incorrect, we also know that innocent people lost their lives and were wounded because they happened to be in Nisur Square, when Jeremy Ridgeway, by his own admission, panicked and sprayed the crowd with bullets. However, the fact that there truly were some victims in Nisur Square does not justify having Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul pay for their teammate’s crimes. It does not justify the DOJ’s lowering of American evidentiary standards to sensationalize the victim count or sanction the DOJ’s suppression of exculpatory evidence and reliance on perjured testimony that we discussed in yesterday’s post to convict innocent men of heinous and untrue crimes.  

And it certainly does not justify what the DOJ did to Paul Slough. Specifically, in its rebuttal closing argument—when the DOJ knew Paul’s lawyers would have no other chance to address the jury—the DOJ accused Paul of murdering a nine-year-old boy. The DOJ did this despite having proof that Paul could not have killed this boy. Anyone who doubts that we feel for the victims of Nisur Square should read Paul’s statement to this boy’s family at sentencing (many of whom were present in the courtroom), and keep in mind that Paul made this statement just before he knew he would be unjustly sentenced to a mandatory-minimum 30-year prison term that currently separates him from his own family for what is effectively the rest of his life.  

So, yes, we feel for the true victims of Nisur Square and their families. But we also know that our men are among them, albeit as a result of constitutional rights violations rather than bullets. That is why we will unapologetically fight for them until they all come home.

Thank you for joining us again today. We hope to see you back tomorrow when we will focus on a key development that is a HUGE step in the right direction to preventing what happened to the men we love from happening to another serviceman or woman.