Update On Our Hometown Hero
Hello Olney! The latest update on the case of Dustin Heard and his brothers in Raven 23 is exciting, and moves us closer to either a Presidential pardon or a strong appeal in their conviction for the 2007 shootings in Nisur Square in Baghdad. Dustin’s attorneys, John Maher and Kevin Mikolashek, filed a 2255 motion that details for the first time the numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct that led to their 2014 convictions. The motion also lays bare - for the first time in a court of law - the strong interest by the U.S. government in appeasing the Iraqi government for the rising number of civilian casualties caused by both U.S. forces and the Iran-backed Iraqi insurgents. It includes cables sent by U.S. government officials in Iraq and Washington DC after the case was dismissed in 2009 by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina for prosecutorial misconduct and lack of evidence to stand. These cables discuss the impact of Urbina’s dismissal on U.S.-Iraq relations -- and conclude that the U.S. Department of Justice had no choice but to refile the case to appease Iraqi leaders. The motion also details the lengths to which prosecutors manipulated, hid and manufactured evidence to achieve their goal -- conviction at any cost. The motion was filed on Sept. 14 to the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. On Monday, Sept. 28, Judge Lamberth ordered the Department of Justice to respond to the allegations in Dustin’s motion within 60 days. John Maher sees the judge’s order as a positive development, but plans to press forward with additional motions. One of these motions seeks to expand the scope of discovery to include new witnesses, including the State Department officials who wrote the cables and asking for more information about the Iraqi colonel who conducted the Raven 23 investigation in Baghdad. Evidence unearthed by defense attorneys for Nicholas Slatten in 2018 showed that this investigator had ties to Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups. Another seeks to disqualify Judge Lamberth from the case for bias -- a move that is sure to ignite fireworks in Washington DC, as Judge Lamberth is a senior judge with powerful connections to the legal establishment. Stay tuned, as this story is getting exciting, and don’t forget to sign the petition asking President Trump to pardon Dustin, Nick Slatten, Paul Slough and Evan Liberty! (https://www.change.org/p/president-donald-j-trump-mr-president-please-pa...) You can read the 2255 here: (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54617a87e4b0ead3d2d3f469/t/5f7240...)
Gina Keating is a freelance journalist, podcaster and filmmaker and formerly a correspondent for three international wire services.