Case for Overseas Article III Courts: The Blackwater Effect and Criminal Accountability in the Age of Privatization, The

A series of high-profile cases involving the alleged murders of Iraqi civilians by U.S. contractors operating overseas has highlighted the longstanding problem of how best to address crimes committed overseas by civilian employees, dependents, or contractors of the U.S. government. Among the most notorious of these incidents is the alleged killing of seventeen Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007 by employees of Blackwater Worldwide, a private corporation specializing in military operations that has subsequently renamed itself “Xe.”2News reports of this incident prompted embarrassment and outrage as many Americans learned that U.S. civilian contractors like the Blackwater/Xe employees serving overseas had been operating with impunity during the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Although a federal judge recently dismissed the cases of the five former Blackwater employees charged in the Nisour Square incident because of the prosecution’s misuse of compelled statements, unresolved questions linger about whether the assertion of criminal jurisdiction over them was proper in the first place.