Blackwater Employees Convicted, Face Decades in Prison:

WASHINGTON — One by one, four former Blackwater security contractors wearing blue jumpsuits and leg irons stood before a federal judge on Monday and spoke publicly for the first time since a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq.

The men had been among several private American security guards who fired into Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square on Sept. 16, 2007, and last October they were convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in what prosecutors called a wartime atrocity. Yet on Monday, as they awaited sentences that they knew would send them to prison for most if not all of their lives, they defiantly asserted their innocence.

The judge, Royce C. Lamberth, strongly disagreed, sentencing Mr. Slatten to life in prison and handing 30-year sentences to the three others. A fifth former guard, Jeremy P. Ridgeway of California, had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and testified against his former colleagues. He has not been sentenced but testified that he hoped to avoid any prison time.

Unbelievably, Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder, implying that the killing was both willful and premeditated. In order to believe this, one must believe that this was somehow all planned by Slatten, which is ridiculous.