Our military has gone mad.

The US military has decided not to prosecute 17 soldiers in charges related to 28 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, against the recommendations of military investigators. Now, some little gems from this:

In one case, an Iraqi LCOL was killed in custody at a US base in Al Asad, principally as a result of blunt trauma and asphyxia from being lifted to his feet by a baton held to his throat. Special Forces Command determined that this force was lawful “in response to repeated aggression and misconduct by the detainee.”

An Army Special Forces case that was dropped involved the shooting death of a prisoner in Afghanistan, dropped because “the soldier involved was not well-informed of the rules of engagement.” (I am certain there is some sort of confusion that might make a soldier believe that the shooting death of a prisoner, whom I presume was not armed, was within RoE. I’m not sure what this confusion might be, but I’m sure there’s a really good explanation here)

But apparently things are OK, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin: Apparently the prisoners who died represent only a tiny fraction of the 70,000 detainees held by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, that makes me feel better.

So it looks like the unsurprising is happening: Rather than risk a blow to morale from actually prosecuting soldiers for criminal offenses ranging from dereliction of duty to murder, this one is going to get papered over, all the way down to the people on the ground. The officers responsible for these incidents, of course, aren’t even being mentioned – and, I’m suspecting, are in line for promotions.

Not good, guys; I appreciate the need to get information as much as anybody else, but this is a pervasive climate of torture and murder. The signal that this is OK so long as it’s for a good reason is not an acceptable one to be giving to our enlisted personnel and our officers – and even less so to our enemies, who are watching this case with great interest.

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Published in: on March 25, 2005 at 19:11  Comments (10)  
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10 Comments

  1. Shooting of unarmed prisoner is acceptable if prisoner attacks and does not cease and desist. Soldiers are not issued pepper spray or other non-lethal options.
    This includes pulling a detainee off of someone with a baton if he’s attacking a guard.
    Three out of 70000 is damned good. They’re out in a war zone. You handle them roughly because they’re out to kill you and you don’t know what they have stashed where.
    Quite frankly, I understand not prosecuting if there’s little or no chance to make charges stick. Whatever the evidence, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. Prosecution must also prove, given the volatile and violent situation, that there was negligence and other means were available. Very hard to prove in a shooting war.
    So why impact morale by putting guys up for show trials where you can’t prove the guys guilty?

  2. Shooting of unarmed prisoner is acceptable if prisoner attacks and does not cease and desist. Soldiers are not issued pepper spray or other non-lethal options.
    This includes pulling a detainee off of someone with a baton if he’s attacking a guard.
    Three out of 70000 is damned good. They’re out in a war zone. You handle them roughly because they’re out to kill you and you don’t know what they have stashed where.
    Quite frankly, I understand not prosecuting if there’s little or no chance to make charges stick. Whatever the evidence, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. Prosecution must also prove, given the volatile and violent situation, that there was negligence and other means were available. Very hard to prove in a shooting war.
    So why impact morale by putting guys up for show trials where you can’t prove the guys guilty?

  3. well, first off the details aren’t as clear as might i might like. Charts are always nice, instead of breaking down in text…but hey,thats me.
    Some of the details are interesting thou. In one of the three your mentioned, 11 people were reccomended to be charged regarding one man’s death while tied up and gagged. ELEVEN. Alittle odd is an understantment.
    But it is your last line that bothers me because I think so many people would agree with you. Morale should not be a factor in deciding to have a trial nor should anything other the evidence. I realize that is a bit idealistic but this is something that we should approach with as much grandeur and integrity as we can muster.

  4. well, first off the details aren’t as clear as might i might like. Charts are always nice, instead of breaking down in text…but hey,thats me.
    Some of the details are interesting thou. In one of the three your mentioned, 11 people were reccomended to be charged regarding one man’s death while tied up and gagged. ELEVEN. Alittle odd is an understantment.
    But it is your last line that bothers me because I think so many people would agree with you. Morale should not be a factor in deciding to have a trial nor should anything other the evidence. I realize that is a bit idealistic but this is something that we should approach with as much grandeur and integrity as we can muster.

  5. Okay, for the sake of argument let’s leave out moral altogether.
    What’s the point of having trials where there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute?
    The fact is that you’ve already condemned these men in your mind. You’d like to see a trial despite the fact that the evidence to prosecute simply does not exist.

  6. Okay, for the sake of argument let’s leave out moral altogether.
    What’s the point of having trials where there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute?
    The fact is that you’ve already condemned these men in your mind. You’d like to see a trial despite the fact that the evidence to prosecute simply does not exist.

  7. There has been a miscommunication on my part. I have no clue if any of the cases have even a single ounce of merit. I was talking more on principle.
    And i don’t know if you meant “moral” or “morale”. I am going to assume you did not typo.
    You mentioned morale being a factor in regards to having a trial. I may have misinterpreted what you meant. I read it as saying effects on morale should be a consideration for prosecution. That I disagree with. Proof of guilty should be the only criteria.
    You’d like to see a trial despite the fact that the evidence to prosecute simply does not exist
    The only time I would ever want to prosecute is when you knew someone was guilty. You only know someone is guilty when you have evidence. The part that causes me trouble is where you have evidence you can’t use. So you know that someone is guilty but may not be able to prove it in a court of law. I really don’t know what to do then. Ideally I say, “prosecute anyways. They are guilty,just and convict!” realistically I say “Only prosecute cases you can win.”
    I don’t know if I want to live in a real world or any ideal one.

  8. There has been a miscommunication on my part. I have no clue if any of the cases have even a single ounce of merit. I was talking more on principle.
    And i don’t know if you meant “moral” or “morale”. I am going to assume you did not typo.
    You mentioned morale being a factor in regards to having a trial. I may have misinterpreted what you meant. I read it as saying effects on morale should be a consideration for prosecution. That I disagree with. Proof of guilty should be the only criteria.
    You’d like to see a trial despite the fact that the evidence to prosecute simply does not exist
    The only time I would ever want to prosecute is when you knew someone was guilty. You only know someone is guilty when you have evidence. The part that causes me trouble is where you have evidence you can’t use. So you know that someone is guilty but may not be able to prove it in a court of law. I really don’t know what to do then. Ideally I say, “prosecute anyways. They are guilty,just and convict!” realistically I say “Only prosecute cases you can win.”
    I don’t know if I want to live in a real world or any ideal one.

  9. Nope. I meant morale. Sorry.
    True, proof of guilt should be the only criteria. Unfortunately, most cases are rarely overwhelmingly against the defendant. There’s evidence pointing to someone’s guilt, but whether or not it’s enough is often up in the air. In those sorts of cases, where the situation is ambiguous and the evidence lacking, other considerations can and, in this case, must be considered.

  10. Nope. I meant morale. Sorry.
    True, proof of guilt should be the only criteria. Unfortunately, most cases are rarely overwhelmingly against the defendant. There’s evidence pointing to someone’s guilt, but whether or not it’s enough is often up in the air. In those sorts of cases, where the situation is ambiguous and the evidence lacking, other considerations can and, in this case, must be considered.


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