and Center of Blackwater Case PAUL SLOUGH may have worked as a cowboy growing up in this tiny town in northwest Texas, but soldiers who served with him were stunned to hear he had been accused of acting like one as a Blackwater security guard in Iraq.
"I went on 20 to 30 missions with Paul. You could always depend on him," said Jeremiah oakley flak jacket polarized Thompson, recalling his tour of duty with Mr. Slough in Iraq for the Texas National Guard. "He was always careful. He was always professional. I never knew him to break the rules of engagement."Today, Mr. Slough, 28, is at the center of a federal investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad by a convoy of Blackwater security guards. 3."Through a review of case documents and interviews in Texas and Washington, The New York Times identified the gunner as Mr. Slough, a former infantry soldier who joined Blackwater Worldwide after his dreams of joining the Army Special Forces were quashed by recurring problems from an old football injury.Continue reading the main storyThe Sept. It ignited such outrage that the Iraqi government threatened to ban Blackwater from the country.The Bush administration changed the way it manages private security contractors. Congress is considering legislation aimed at closing loopholes that allow contractors to escape prosecution for abuses, though Justice Department officials have told legislators their actions would probably be too late to affect this case.Blackwater has defended the actions of its guards, saying they had come under attack and the shooting was justified, and it often points out that no one under its oakley sun shades protection has ever been killed.WITH his name withheld from public records about the shootings, Mr. Slough (pronounced like now) has not drawn much attention. Described as tall and lean with a carrot colored beard, he lives with his wife in a well to do housing development near Fort Worth.An uncle, Dewey Slough of Amarillo, said that the last time he talked to his nephew he was working at The Home Depot and looking to find something better. "I told him I had a friend with a construction business and would put in a good word," the uncle said. "He told me he had found something and was going back to Iraq."Less than a month after the shooting, friends said, they saw Paul Slough and his wife at a tailgate party outside a Texas Tech football game in Lubbock. The group included Mr. Thompson, the former Texas National Guard member. He said Mr. Slough looked like the stereotype of a Blackwater guard: Oakley sunglasses, cargo pants, cropped hair and a chiseled physique."I asked him: 'Man, I heard there was some trouble over there. Were you involved?'" Mr. Thompson recalled. "He just nodded, and told me it wasn't like what I had read in the papers."A Blackwater spokeswoman, Anne Tyrrell, would not comment for this article, saying the company did not want to interfere with a continuing investigation.Mr. Slough also declined to be interviewed for this article, but his first statement to investigators was posted on the Internet, with just his first name, by ABC News.In it, Mr. Slough recounted the mayhem in dry military language. He described coming under an elaborate attack that he said had begun when the driver of a white four door sedan ignored numerous hand signals and drove directly at the Blackwater motorcade."Fearing for my life and the lives of my teammates," Mr. Slough said, "I engaged the driver and stopped the threat."He said he saw muzzle flashes from a shack 50 meters, or about 160 feet, behind the car; a man in a blue button down shirt and black pants pointing an AK 47; small arms fire from a red bus that had stopped in an intersection; and a red car backing up toward his convoy. and the Iraqi government found no evidence to support Mr. Slough's account no car bombs, no signs of enemy fire or insurgents. concluded that at least 14 of the 17 fatal shootings had been unjustified, saying Blackwater guards had recklessly violated American rules for the use of lethal force. Military investigators went further, saying all the deaths were unjustified and potentially criminal. Slough's lawyer, Mark Hulkower, said security contractors in Iraq work in "an extraordinarily challenging environment, where the enemy does not wear uniforms, unless disguised as Iraqi soldiers or police to exploit civilians."He said contractors "cannot be asked to ignore real threats when making split second, life and death decisions." And he said he was confident federal prosecutors womens oakley sunglasses sale would find that his client and the other Blackwater guards had acted appropriately under established rules of engagement."To conclude otherwise," he said, "would cause those now defending against terrorist threats to choose between dying in a foreign country and being branded as a criminal in their own."This flat, arid corner of the country, settled by cattle ranchers, is not different from many small towns that propel young men and women into the military. It is a place where working class people hold traditional ideas about what it means to be an American, where churches outnumber restaurants and children learn to handle weapons not long after learning to read and write.Several people here said problems with alcohol oakley distributors made it difficult for Mr. Slough's father, Paul Slough Sr., to hold a steady job. (The father has since died.) They said the younger Mr. Slough grew up quickly, juggling schoolwork and a job roping cattle.Mike Norrell, Mr. Slough's former teacher at Patton Springs School, recalled Mr. Slough as a boy who craved learning. He said that while other students memorized lessons, Mr. Slough questioned everything he read.
Rita Brandle, who runs a general store, said: "It was as if the child was the father, and the father was the child. We were happy to see him go off and join the Army.".
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