Raven 23: Presumption of Guilt

By Think Again

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 Dec 8, 2019
Caping for war criminals and murderers should be a punishable crime.


How did four highly decorated American soldiers become prisoners of war in their own country? This series re-examines the US Department of Justice’s controversial prosecution following a gun battle in Baghdad between Iraqi insurgents and military contractors. Why did the DOJ hold multiple trials for over a decade? Was the DOJ seeking justice? Or playing politics?

Episode Date

In our final episode, Gina visits with Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten and Paul Slough three months after President Donald J. Trump issued unconditional pardons to free them from prison. They talk about hearing the news that they were coming home to their families for Christmas, and about their hopes and dreams. 

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Aug 20, 2021
Closing Argument

The men of Raven 23 resist mounting prosecutorial pressure to plead guilty, and must finally face trial -- a legal odyssey that dragged for seven more years and encompassed three trials. In this episode, Gina chronicles the repeated violations of the men’s civil rights at the hands of prosecutors who are aided by a complicit judge.

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Aug 20, 2021
The Expendables

Gina examines the role played by the national press in the prosecution of Raven 23.

Although he is mere months from taking senior status, Judge Royce Lamberth inexplicably seizes the Raven 23 case, minutes after it is randomly assigned to another judge. This move is consistent with Lamberth’s checkered legal and judicial career.


Royce Lamberth's Rein of Terror

At US Urging, Court Throws Lamberth off Indian Case

Royce Lamberth

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Nov 25, 2020
Joe Biden's Baghdad Betrayal

Just two days after Judge Ricardo Urbina threw out the government’s case against Raven 23, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her legal advisors were scheming on ways to revive it.

The news of the dismissal reverberated across Iraq, with religious and political leaders demanding that the US Justice Department bring new charges against Dustin Heard, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Nick Slatten. 

State Department cables from the time show that the Iraqi government was threatening to withdraw from the Status of Forces Agreement and lucrative oil contracts.

Obama sent Vice President Joseph Biden to Iraq to assure the Iraqi people publicly that they would have “justice” in the Raven 23 case.


State Department diplomatic cables: "Fallout over Blackwater Continues"

Biden says "U.S. to Appeal Blackwater Dismissal"

Aug 11, 2020
Breaking the Code

Gina and Mike examine the US government’s machinations to overcome the shortcomings of the investigation.

Witness accounts begin shifting as US prosecutors pressure witnesses to bring the case to trial in response to mounting political pressure in Iraq.

Prosecutors convene a grand jury to try to make manslaughter charges stick against Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Nick Slatten. Their star witness is Raven 23 team member Jeremy Ridgeway, who recants his statement that the convoy took incoming fire after prosecutors threaten him.

Heard, Liberty, Slatten and Slough describe increasingly aggressive tactics by FBI agents and prosecutors to try to force them into guilty pleas.

Less than a day after Judge Urbina kills the case, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton queries her legal advisor, Harold Koh: “What can we do about Judge Urbina’s ruling?”


Hillary Clinton Email Archive -- Blackwater case

Jeremy Ridgeway pleads guilty in secret deal.

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Jun 30, 2020
Congressional Justice For Warriors Caucus Offically Requests Presidental Pardon for Men of Raven 23

Today, on May 12, the Congressional Justice for Warriors Caucus sent a letter to President Trump formally requesting a Presidential Pardon for the men of Raven 23.  Representative Gohmert took the time to speak with Gina about the growing movement in Congress for a Presidential Pardon for Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard - four decorated military veterans unjustly serving time in prison for over five years now.  

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May 12, 2020
Interview with Derrick Miller, Executive Director of the Justice for Warriors Caucus

Gina recently interviewed Derrick Miller, the Executive Director of the Justice for Warriors Caucus and Military Adviser to Texas Representative Louie Gohmert.  Thanks to Representative Gohmert's leadership, Miller spends every day advocating for military justice reform.  

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May 09, 2020
The Code of Hammurabi

We pick up TWO YEARS after the investigation into the Nisour Square Incident and Blackwaters alleged misconduct 

US District Judge Ricardo Urbina throws out the case against Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Nick Slatten, blasting prosecutors for pervasive misconduct and vindictive prosecution. 

The Raven 23 men pick up their lives cautiously after Urbina’s New Year’s Eve 2009 ruling, trying to resurrect their dreams for themselves and their families. 

Meanwhile, the Bush and succeeding Obama administrations grapple with shifting politics in Iraq, including the country’s first presidential election and negotiation of the status of forces agreement that will determine how long US troops may remain in Iraq.


Judge Dismisses Blackwater Case

Judge Ricardo Urbina Comments on Dismissal of Charges

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Apr 04, 2020
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Gina and Mike take a look at the US Government's case files, including witness statements and shell casings at the scene, showing that the Raven 23 team was taking incoming gunfire. 

We take a look at how the US government turned over the investigation into the  Nisour Square incident to the Iraqi National Police, which employed shady and, in US courts, illegal tactics that caught the attention of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

And Entifahd Qanbar, the former President of the Iraqi National Congress, and Joseph Low IV, executive director of the esteemed Trial Lawyers College, give their professional perspective.


Amicus brief supporting Raven 23

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Feb 28, 2020
Stand Down!

In this episode, we’re introduced to: Nick Poulos, Blackwater's detail leader; TJ Hill, a mechanic working for Blackwater, and Keith George, Blackwater's  Iraq protection leader. Each of the men recounts his memories of the Nisour Square Incident, and where the government’s inquiry went off track.

And Gina sits down with former Raven 23 vehicle commander Tommy Vargas, who has recently found long-buried information

Feb 11, 2020
Clint Lorance Interview

Clint  Lorance served as a First Lieutenant in the US Army in Afghanistan when he was selected for the dangerous job of Platoon leader in June, 2012.  The following month, Clint ordered HIs men to defend themselves against three Taliban soldiers speeding towards them on motorcyles.  Rather than receiving a commendation, he was unjustly found guilty on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.  He was confined in the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for over six years until he was fully pardoned and ordered released by President Donald Trump in November, 2019.  

​Similar to the case of the Biden Four, Clint did not receive a fair trial.  The government withheld key information from the jury.  The prosecutors did not disclose evicence which would have cleared Clint of any wrong-doing - "biometric data" (fingerprint and DNA evidence).

The prosecution also failed to notify the  jury that witnesses against Clint were themselves initially accused of murder, given immunity from prosecution, and were ordered to cooperate with prosecutors.

Clint Lorrance walked into the Army recruiting station in Greenville, Texas on hIs 18th Birthday to join the Army as a military policeman.  

​On December 13, 2002, Clint's 18th birthday, Clint walked into the Army recruiting station in Greenville, Texas, and joined the Army as a military policeman (MP). For the next decade, he served HIs country with honor and distinction, only to find HImself unjustly imprisoned for six years.  So more than half of HIs entire life has been spent either defending HIs country or serving time in prison for crimes that he did not connect.  

Miraculously, Clint has refused to yield to anger or bitterness.  Since being released, he has dedicated substantial time and energy to making sure other veterans who were unlawfully imprisoned finally receive the justice they deserve and the freedom stolen from them by a political prosecution.  The majority of this time has been spent raising awareness about the political prosecution of the men of Raven 23.  

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Dec 18, 2019
Ground Truth
In this episode, Gina and Mike recreate the events of Sept. 16, 2007 based on the US government’s own evidence, showing that the Raven 23 convoy took incoming gunfire in Nisour Square from AK-47 wielding insurgents.

They interview members of the 19-man Raven 23 team about their minute-by-minute experiences during the Nisour Square incident and its aftermath.

And examine the transcripts of the Iraqi witness statements to deconstruct why the body count and survivor accounts changed so wildly in the aftermath of the incident. 

Digging into the US government’s documents, witness statements, victim lists and trial transcripts shows a subpar investigation conducted three weeks after the incident as well as outright violations of criminal procedure. 

Former Raven 23 member Tommy Vargas unearths long-buried information about the Nisour Square incident and hands it over to Gina.


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Dec 13, 2019
Civil War

In this episode, Iraq slips closer toward civil war as the US occupation enters the fourth year of a mission that President George W Bush declared “accomplished” three years earlier. 

The U.S. is having trouble recruiting soldiers to staff the occupation, so the government hires nearly 200,000 military contractors to fill the recruitment gap. 

With their tours ending, Dustin, Evan, Paul and Nick consider their options in the private sector, and each decide to rejoin the fight as contractors for Erik Prince’s Blackwater Worldwide. 

Robert Ford, the second-in-command at the US Embassy in Iraq during this time, recalls that tensions grew to a fever pitch between Iraqi civilians.

And Mike and Gina look to define the word "mercenary".


Contractors outnumber troops in Iraq (2007)

Geneva Conventions protocol relating to Mercenaries

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Nov 23, 2019
Unintended Consequences

Gina and Mike explain how US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld put in motion the growing influence and use of military contractors the day before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking attacks on New York and Washington DC.

This episode introduces Judge Royce Lamberth, chief of the US District Court for the Washington DC circuit and head of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) that allowed law enforcement to spy on US citizens. 

Meanwhile, Dustin, Evan, Paul and Nick deployed to find the conflict, US preparedness and the people they encountered markedly different from what they expected.

And Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince describes how his military contracting company morphed from a battlefield supply service to a finely honed, superbly equipped diplomatic protection squad and quick reaction force to meet growing violence across war-torn Iraq.


Donald Rumsfeld's 9/11 story

Judge Reflects after 9/11, 'Bloodcurdling' Briefings

Book by Stewart Baker

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Nov 15, 2019
Universal Deceit

Mike and Gina introduce the men of Blackwater’s Raven 23: Dustin Heard, a former US Marine from Maryville, Tennessee; former US Marine Evan Liberty from Rochester, New Hampshire; US Army veteran Paul Slough of Sanger, Texas; and Nicholas Slatten, a veteran of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, of Sparta, Tennessee.

Their families and military comrades discuss the characters and reputations of these small town enlistees, and what motivated them to join the fight after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking attacks on New York and Washington DC.

The episode also introduces Blackwater Worldwide founder, Erik Prince.


62% feel U.S. made a mistake sending troops to Iraq (2007)

From Texas to Iraq, and Center Of The Blackwater case (2008)


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Nov 11, 2019
Saving the Pentagon from Itself

On September 10, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presents his vision for a new type of military that relies heavily on privatization.  Rumsfeld claims that he is not trying to destroy the Pentagon, but “save it from itself.”  At the exact time that he is giving his speech, four radical Jihadists are checking in to the Marriot Hotel in Herndon, VA. 

Less than 24 hours after giving his speech, Donald Rumsfeld would no longer be talking about war in the figurative sense.  He would be involved in it literally, as he bravely rushed into the embers of the West Wall of the Pentagon to save lives. 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thinkthink)
Aug 11, 2019

How did four highly decorated American soldiers become prisoners of war in their own country? This series re-examines the US Department of Justice’s controversial prosecution following a controversial battle in Baghdad. Why did the DOJ hold multiple trials for over a decade? Was the DOJ seeking justice? Or playing politics?

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thinkthink)
Jun 16, 2019