A federal judge in North Carolina last week ordered the wrongful death lawsuit pending against Blackwater into binding arbitration.
After appealing unsuccessfully all the way to the Supreme Court, Blackwater now appears to have found another way to derail what promised to be a landmark lawsuit brought by the families of four security contractors killed in a convoy ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004.
This week, on orders of a federal judge, the dispute is scheduled to be taken up out of court by a three-man panel of arbitrators.
By steering the case into arbitration, Blackwater has shifted a legal showdown over issues of battlefield accountability and presidential authority into a non judicial arena where the proceedings occur behind closed doors and the outcome is confidential.
One of the three arbitrators is William Webster, a Reagan-era director of the FBI and CIA with personal and business ties to several Blackwater lawyers.
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