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Ex-Marine Says Pulitzer-Winner Defamed Him

TULSA (CN) - A former Marine who worked for "a private security firm" in Iraq claims Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Steve Fainaru defamed him in the book, "Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq," depicting him as "a sadistic killing machine," who drank heavily on duty, "was jealous of mercenaries that got to shoot at people when he did not," and "turned his military grade automatic weapon on and fired shots at an innocent person for amusement."

Jacob Washbourne sued Fainaru, Da Capo Press and The Perseus Books Group, claiming the book "Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq," defamed him, invaded his privacy, depicted him in false light, and caused emotional distress.

Washbourne says Fainaru interviewed him and his co-workers at Triple Canopy, "a private security firm who contracted to provide security in Iraq."

The complaint states: "In the book, Fainaru depicts the plaintiff as violent and cruel, and a drunk, setting forth, for example:

"a. That Washbourne arbitrarily discharged firearms at Iraqi civilians without adequately assessing whether such individuals posed an actual safety threat;

"b. That Washbourne had a callous and indifferent attitude toward killing people;

"c. That Washbourne actually enjoyed killing people - Fainaru wrote that Washbourne stated to his colleagues 'I want to kill somebody today' and that became a title chapter in 'Big Boy Rules';

"d. That Washbourne drank a lot of alcohol while on assignment and it routinely affected his work - Fainaru wrote that Washbourne was often absent from the briefings he was supposed to conduct because he was 'sleeping off the previous night's binge;'

"e. That Washbourne got to keep his job with Triple Canopy despite his abhorrent behavior only because he was best friends with his immediate supervisor, Ryan Thomason;

"f. That Washbourne had a 'head banger persona' that he carried out on the streets of Iraq;

"g. That Washbourne wasted a $150,000 company asset and wounded an Iraqi civilian by indiscriminately bombing a disabled suburban with a grenade and making his colleagues stand around and watch the truck burn for a half hour during which time Washbourne 'sprayed the burning truck with bullets' out of an apparent and arbitrary lust for violence.

"h. That Washbourne instructed his colleagues to lie and cover up what he did to the truck, which Fainaru calls the 'Hilla debacle;'

"i. That Washbourne stated that he wanted to kill somebody the day before he left for vacation because he was going on vacation 'for a long time';

"j. That Washbourne 'often blurted out' such comments while on assignment;

"k. That Washbourne was jealous of mercenaries that got to shoot at people when he did not;

"l. That Washbourne blared 'death metal music' while on assignment;

"m. That Washbourne arbitrarily fired with an intent to kill at an unthreatening and unknown vehicle and then told his colleagues '[t]hat didn't happen, understand?'; and

"n. That Washbourne turned his military grade automatic weapon on and fired shots at an innocent person for amusement;

"All of the above statements are false and unfairly portray Washbourne as a sadistic killing machine rather than the professional defense contractor he was."

Washbourne also claims that "A picture of Washbourne on the top of an SUV armed with a military grade automatic weapon was repeatedly used by defendants to promote 'Big Boy Rules' without Washbourne's knowledge or permission and continues to be used for promotional purposes."

Washbourne seeks punitive damages. He is represented by Donald Smolen II, with Smolen, Smolen and Roytman.

Fainaru won the Pulitzer for international reporting in 2008 while he worked for the Washington Post. His 10-part, award-winning series focused on abuses by Blackwater and other mercenary firms in Iraq. "Big Boy Rules" was published in 2008.

Here is how Triple Canopy describes itself on its home page on the Internet: "Triple Canopy provides integrated security and mission support services to government agencies, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations worldwide."

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