Drew Springer encourages the support of Raven 23 resentencing on Sept. 5
Rep. Drew Springer (R-Tx District 68) has voiced his support on social media about the Raven 23 appeal that will take place on Sept. 5 in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Below is the article Springer posted on Facebook prefaced with a plea to his supporters and followers to share the article in an effort to help fellow Texans “. who served their country and have now been used offered up as sacrificial lambs to appease a foreign government and help politicians in DC.”
Dustin Heard (US Marines); Evan Liberty (US Marines); Paul Slough (U.S. Army); and Nick Slatten (U.S. Army). Dustin and Paul grew up and graduated High School in rural west Texas (HD68). Our federal government tasked Dustin and Paul with defending American diplomats at the height of the Iraq War and were known as Raven 23 working for a State Department contractor.
On September 16, 2007, they were part of a unit protecting a diplomatic team in Baghdad when a massive IED exploded near Nisur Square. Their job was to escort the diplomatic convoy to safety. A white Kia, matching the description of one earlier identified as a possible car bomb, jumped out from behind stopped traffic and began approaching them, which they perceived as a threat. The Kia would not stop and they shot both the occupants.
Almost simultaneous, the team began taking fire in what appeared to be a planned ambush. A firefight ensued, and some Iraqis died as a result. During the firefight, the command vehicle was pockmarked with bullets and disabled by gunfire.
Iraqi police Col. Faris Kareem, with known terrorist ties, took immediate charge of the investigation. The Iraq government accused the Americans of firing on unarmed civilians. The FBI didn’t arrive until weeks later, where there were no autopsies of the victims and no opportunity to examine their fatal wounds.
The brave men of Raven 23 who risked their lives and performed their assigned job to protect government officials, were criminally charged in 2009. They were cleared with the Judge writing a 90-page opinion lambasting the government for “reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.”
In January 2010, Vice President Joe Biden in responding to political pressure from Iraq, stated the Department of Justice would appeal the ruling. The Department of Justice finally retried the case SEVEN years after the actual event took place in 2014 with a civilian jury, with no combat experience against three of the members.
There are also irregularities with the re-trial worth noting. No one conducted a classic crime-scene investigation. No one conducted autopsies of the victims, and as such, no one had an opportunity to examine their fatal wounds. The prosecution hid exculpatory evidence from the FBI of a photograph depicting AK-47 rounds found at the scene showing the unit faced armed opposition. The three men were treated as gangbangers, charged and sentenced with committing a crime with a fully automatic weapon, and received a 30-year sentence. Essentially the jury found the three men guilty for doing a job the State Department contracted them to perform, using the precise weapons the men were required and authorized to carry. In 2017, the D.C. Circuit weighed in finding the 30-year sentences against Slough, Heard, and Liberty were “grossly disproportionate to their culpability for using government-issued weapons in a war zone” and therefore violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In an amicus brief filed in support of the defendants, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers described the prosecution of the four as having “serious fundamental errors” and urged the appeals court to reverse the convictions. There is a ray of hope. Dustin, Paul and Evan are scheduled to be re-sentenced on September 5, 2019, after a U.S. appeals court ruled their 30-year sentences was “cruel and unusual.” They all should be pardoned but at this time please pray for them to be released for time served and join me in the letter of support for their release to the court. No American should sit in prison to appease an ally. PLEASE Share and like to help send a message of support to the Judge.