What Can I Do?
Join Our Letters for Raven 23 Writing Campaign
Today, four heroes sit behind bars for 30+ years.
Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough have been sentenced to 30 years for federal weapons charges and 1 day for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. These men were ripped from their families even though the government’s own evidence shows they were defending themselves in a war zone while performing their official duties with their government-issued weapons, and even though the government recently admitted during the appellate process—for the first time in nearly a decade—that the ENEMY fired first.
Nick Slatten has been sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree premeditated murder of the driver of the white Kia. Nick was vindictively charged with this untrue crime just one month before the 2014 trial after he beat the government’s attempt to include him in the lesser charges brought against Dustin, Evan, and Paul. Nick was ripped from his family even though the government’s own evidence fails to prove that Nick shot, let alone killed, this person, and even though evidence that was hidden from Nick’s jury and that remains hidden from all of us to this day conclusively proves that someone else on the team killed the driver.
Will you join us in fighting this injustice?
Starting in January 2017, and each month thereafter until our unjustly imprisoned heroes are freed, we will feature a writing initiative in support of our fight for true justice and transparency. Often, you will find these letters first in our monthly Free Raven 23 Newsletter, and then we will add them to our website. Regardless of which month you join our campaign, we appreciate you sending all of these letters, plus any additional letters you believe will help raise awareness about our fight.
Letter to President Trump (January 2017)
President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Re: The Decorated Veterans of Blackwater's Tactical Support Team Raven 23
Dear President Trump:
The same week you celebrated your inauguration, four decorated veterans fought for their lives before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. These men—Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten, and Paul Slough—went to war for our country and served deployments to some of the world’s most dangerous regions. And, even after their tours were over, they went back into harm’s way as contractors supporting the Department of State’s mission to bring democracy to Iraq.
Now, they languish in federal prisons, convicted by civilians clueless about combat, for defensive actions in a war zone. Following a shoddy investigation and a farce of a trial that legal experts say never should have happened and that involved deplorable constitutional rights violations by your predecessor’s administration, these innocent men were unjustly ripped from their families.
To add insult to injury, at the January 2017 oral arguments in the case, the government prosecutors admitted for the first time—in nearly a decade—that the ENEMY fired first. This admission marked a complete 180 from the “unprovoked massacre” theory the government relied upon to ask the civilian jury to convict.
Further, in an unthinkable ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nick Slatten, a decorated combat veteran who went to war for this country twice, has been relegated to fighting for his life in the dark. Immediately after the 2007 war-zone engagement at issue, one of Nick’s codefendants admitted several times (including in statements under oath) to killing the person that Nick was ultimately convicted of murdering. Even knowing Nick was innocent, just one month before trial, Obama’s DOJ vindictively charged Nick with murder after Nick beat its attempt to charge him with the same lesser charges it brought against the other men. Because the codefendant’s statements exonerating Nick are immunized, they could not be admitted in a joint trial. In a ruling that is currently being appealed (along with an appeal based on Nick’s actual innocence and his vindictive prosecution), the trial court refused to give Nick a separate trial where his jury could hear this exculpatory evidence. As a result, the truth was hidden from Nick’s jury. Shockingly, even at this late stage of the case, the truth still remains hidden because the D.C. Circuit has refused to unseal the statements—a ruling that shields the court’s judicial review from the public transparency the First Amendment guarantees.
President Trump, it is time for abuses like these against our veterans to stop. I implore you to have your legal advisers take a look at the massacre of justice that occurred in what is commonly known as the Raven 23 case. While these men are hopeful that the D.C. Circuit will reverse their convictions, making the use of your pardon power unnecessary, you can push for much-needed accountability at the DOJ, you can alert your media contacts to the fact that the D.C. Circuit is conducting business in the dark, and you can underscore that the rights of our veterans will not be trampled on your watch.
Congratulations on taking office as the 45th President of the United States. May your administration be remembered as one that defends those who defend us, starting with the decorated veterans of Blackwater's Tactical Support Team Raven 23.
[Your name & address]
Letter to the Editor (February 2017)
All across America, our veterans are fighting: fighting for services earned, fighting to educate a public that often fails to understand (or care about) the struggles they face when they return from deployments, just generally coming home to fights they shouldn't have to face after fighting so hard for us overseas. These are fights that do—and should—catch the media’s attention. However, I write today about another group of veterans whose fight the media has largely ignored.
These men are Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten, and Paul Slough, and they are decorated veterans who volunteered to go back into a war zone to serve the Department of State on an elite tactical support team after being honorably discharged from their respective military branches. Tragically, these men were involved in a war-zone engagement in Baghdad in 2007, and a lengthy legal battle ensued that ultimately led to their convictions by a civilian jury in Washington, D.C., in 2014. Those convictions are currently being appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and legal experts, including the non-profit, non-partisan National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, have joined their fight for freedom, saying their trial never should have happened and was fraught with constitutional rights violations.
However their appeal turns out, as a person who cares deeply about the rights of those who serve our country in any capacity, I find very disturbing the media’s failure to cover two important aspects of this case. The first is the government’s recent admission of a fact in open court during oral arguments on January 17, 2017, that it has never before acknowledged and, in fact, told the jury did not exist: that the ENEMY fired first. The second is the fact that one of these young men, decorated combat veteran Nick Slatten, had to fight for his freedom behind closed doors. A portion of Mr. Slatten’s oral argument was sealed from the public after the court refused to make public statements that Mr. Slatten’s jury did not get to hear and that his attorneys argue exonerate him. To a media that exists because of the first amendment, I would think a court’s decision to conduct business in the dark—especially when it involves the actual innocence of defendant who has always maintained he was wrongly charged with and convicted of murder—would be a notable occurrence. Yet, I have seen no reports on this issue and only very limited reporting about the government’s concession of enemy fire (a complete 180 from the "unprovoked massacre" theory the government presented to the civilian jury).
I have personally researched this case, known as the Raven 23 case (after the team’s call sign), and found helpful information at www.freeraven23.com, which is a site maintained by the men’s families but that includes actual trial exhibits, transcripts, and court filings. I hope others will, too. And, I hope this publication will research and report on the two very newsworthy issues discussed in this letter.
Letter to Sean Hannity (March 2017)
Our March 2017 letter is a special request from Nick Slatten for your help in engaging Sean Hannity in the fight to Free Raven 23. Please reach out to Mr. Hannity and ask him to cover our fight for true justice and transparency via his website, Facebook, and Twitter. And you can also call in to his radio show at 1-800-941-7326.
Dear Mr. Hannity,
My name is Nick Slatten, and I am a decorated, honorably discharged combat veteran and Army Sniper School graduate who served two tours in the Iraq War. After leaving the 82nd Airborne in 2006, I went back to Iraq as a State Department contractor, where I served as the designated defensive marksman for Blackwater's Tactical Support Team Raven 23.
In September 2007, my team came under fire and faced a car bomb threat in Baghdad's red zone while responding to a car bomb attack against another Blackwater team. In the nearly decade that has passed since, myself and three of my teammates (Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough), who are also experienced veterans and honorable men, have had our good names raked through the mud and our lives destroyed.
Now, my brothers and I sit in federal prison. We are POWs in our own country, convicted by a civilian jury clueless about combat that was allowed to hear perjured testimony but not evidence of our innocence.
We are currently appealing our unjust convictions, with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in our corner. In January 2017, we had oral arguments. There, for the first time ever, the government admitted that the enemy fired first. This concession makes me wonder why my brothers, whose defense was self-defense, are still serving their 30-year sentences.
My case is different; I'm in prison for life for "murdering" someone I didn't even shoot. I was vindictively charged with this crime after I beat the government's attempt to try me for the same lesser charges as my brothers. Rather than admit defeat, the government charged me with a murder I didn't commit, even though it has proof I'm innocent. There are statements by one of my codefendants (including ones made under oath immediately after the 2007 engagement) admitting to killing the man I'm in prison for "murdering." These statements were hidden from my jury, and they remain sealed by court order to this day because the D.C. Circuit has elected to conduct its business in the dark. I have copies of them in my cell and wonder if the truth will remain forever hidden, locked away with me, in yet another cover up by the corrupt left.
I listen to your program every day through the week on my radio. You say journalism is dead. I'm sure if you visit our website www.freeraven23.com you will be outraged by this miscarriage of justice. I beg you, sir, please help us. Don't let two innocent soldiers and two innocent marines be left behind for political appeasement.
Letters to Raven 23 (April 2017)
The fourth letter in our Letters for Raven 23 writing campaign is directed to the men of Raven 23 themselves: Nick Slatten, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Dustin Heard.
April 2017 marked two-and-a-half years that these decorated veterans have been wrongly imprisoned.
Please take some time to send them a short note (remember, white stationery only per new BOP policy) letting them know why you support their fight for freedom and something you've done to help raise awareness about the false justice of their convictions.
Whether it's uplifting them and their families in your prayers, writing our elected officials about their case, or sharing their story with your friends and families, it helps them more than you can imagine to hear they are not alone in this fight.
Raven 23 Letter Roundup! - 2.0 (May & June 2017)
As we did in May, in June, we are doing a Letter Roundup as part of our Letters for Raven 23 writing campaign. What does that mean? We are asking everyone to send the letters (see above) from January, February, March, and April AGAIN.
What if you've already reached out to President Trump, sent a letter to the editor, and contacted Sean Hannity about our fight? Please do so again UNLESS you received a response.
What if you received a response? Please contact us via this website or our Facebook page to let us know what you heard.
You may also recall that the fourth letter in our series (April's letter) was TO the men of Raven 23. Thank you if you sent one! For those who haven't written (ever or lately), recent changes in BOP policy make it increasingly difficult to communicate with our loved ones via mail. Although policy appears to change daily, what seems to consistently make it through is White Stationery Only, meaning a note on a white piece of paper sent in a white envelope (AVOID sending greeting cards until further notice). Please don't let these new policies stop you from reaching out. Send an old-school note today (addresses below). Help us let Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul know they are not forgotten!
More than FIVE months out from the January 2017 oral arguments, we'd hoped to have a decision from the appeals court by now . . . and it could still come any day. Until our men are free, we are not backing down, we're doubling (and now tripling) down. Please help us by participating in the second go-round of our Raven 23 Letter Roundup!
Love & Respect,
The Raven 23 Family
Pray for justice for these men and their families
"I just visited with Paul, and his eyes were alight with hope and love after the outpouring of support yesterday. He sends his gratitude to each of you and his prayers for your safe travel. Nick is spending time with his family now, and I wish you all could see the hugs, love and smiles being shared between our families in the jail lobby. God has washed his peace and hope over us, as many of you have prayed it so on our behalf." - Christin Slough, April 14, 2015
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." - 2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV
“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd." - Exodus 23:1-3 NIV
Write a Letter of Encouragement
Get your pens ready to encourage a hero! They love getting mail, so let's get to work. Don't abbreviate anything or your mail won't make it!
Nicholas Slatten 16018-081
USP COLEMAN II
P.O. BOX 1034
COLEMAN, FL 33521
Evan Liberty 16019-081
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 759
MINERSVILLE, PA 17954
Paul Slough 16017-081
FCI EL RENO
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 1500
EL RENO, OK 73036
Dustin Heard 16020-081
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 34550
MEMPHIS, TN 38184