Friday, May 26, 2006

A stain on all of us 
If this New York Times story pans out, Abu Ghraib is child's play in comparison.

If it were a simple matter of trigger-happiness in fear and rage after a buddy was killed, I could forgive - after we exercised due process of law. At least I could understand it.

But what the Times describes is a systematic, cold-blooded, premeditated massacre - a crime that taxes my own Christian ability for forgiveness.

And the massacre appears to have been compounded by a conspiracy to cover up the crimes.

I'm no fan of the death penalty generally. But if the New York Times story is correct, then the firing squad for those directly responsible should be on the table.

I want to hear all the facts, complete with the results of cross examination. But this should be a potential capital case.

The whole world will be watching to see how the United States tries its own alleged war criminals.

I should note that it wasn't reservists who committed the crime. When Abu Ghraib broke, I objected to arguments that the lack of training of reservists was to blame. That argument was always stupid.

Training only teaches skills. It cannot reform a blackened heart.

My own is sick and sad.

And outraged.

I'm a fan of the death penalty and this is definitely a time were it COULD be very appropriate.

But then again it's the NY Times we're talking about here.

Guess we'll have to wait and see.
It's the bloody NY Times, for G** sakes. Since when have they ever got a story straight?
Our troops are well trained but war is hell and people are people.

I'm suprised we don't have more instances like this.
I really hope this isn't the whole story. How do you convince five marines to just go bonkers.

I'm sick to my stomach.
I notice that the article made no mention of the long history of the United States' military forces investigating its own alleged war crimes, and when such crimes are found to have occurred, punishing the perpetrators. Also missing is any mention of the contrast between our forces and those of the "insurgency".
Know what I couldn't find in that article? The date of the incident. The writer wrote entirely around the subject, leaving me to conclude that it either happened in early November or November 1st, entirely from circumstantial evidence elsewhere in the article.

Christ, I hope it's a crock of shit. For one thing, it looks like a "tip of the iceberg" story. If the details are true, how do five individual marines go on a five-hour killing spree in the middle of a hot zone? Either it's bullshit or the rest of their squad, and probably the rest of their company & maybe their battalion, were implicated by inaction. Since the battalion commander is in hot water according to the article, I'm not optimistic.
If true, it's sad. But hardly surprising. Did you expect perfection? In a perfect world, we would not need soldiers.

I suggest that we all reserve judgement until we see the facts reported by a reputable news organization.
Is this guy serious?
" 'If the accounts as they have been alleged are true, the Haditha incident is likely the most serious war crime that has been reported in Iraq since the beginning of the war,'said John Sifton, of Human Rights Watch. 'Here we have two dozen civilians being killed — apparently intentionally. This isn't a gray area. This is a massacre.' "
Yes, it is a massacre, if it occured as reported, and make no mistake, we WILL punish those responsible. But, what about the systematic murder of hundreds of civilians that has been taking place regularly by the "insurgents"? Maybe some of that quote is missing and should read "...by Americans." But if that is the full quote then it just goes to show that groups like this aren't interested as much in human rights as they are in doing damage to the U.S.
Oh, and how in the world will the NYT and their ilk possibly conjure up the proportional outrage that this atrocity deserves (if true) when you consider the reaction to Abu Ghraib? The fit that was thrown over that childish, irresponsible, but relatively harmless incident leaves little room for stronger condemnation.
No matter what the story turns out to be there is one thing for sure. The NYT story will not even be close to the truth. If they had the truth they would hype it or outright lie. Never believe anything that is printed in the NYT, everyone should have at least learned that by now.
"The fit that was thrown over that childish, irresponsible, but relatively harmless incident"

Mark, Manadel al-Jamadi was murdered at Abu Ghraib by a CIA agent.... this was not a "harmless incident"

Does the USA hold people accountable for crimes of murder in the mist of war? Here's a clip from an article by the New YORKER...

"The C.I.A. has reportedly been implicated in at least four deaths of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, including that of Jamadi, and has referred eight potentially criminal cases involving abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department. In March, Goss, the C.I.A.’s director, testified before Congress that “we don’t do torture,” and the agency’s press office issued a release stating, “All approved interrogation techniques, both past and present, are lawful and do not constitute torture. . . . C.I.A. policies on interrogation have always followed legal guidance from the Department of Justice. If an individual violates the policy, then he or she will be held accountable.”

Yet the government has brought charges against only one person affiliated with the agency: David Passaro, a low-level contract employee, not a full-fledged C.I.A. officer. In 2003, Passaro, while interrogating an Afghan prisoner, allegedly beat him with a flashlight so severely that he eventually died from his injuries. In two other incidents of prisoner abuse, the Times reported last month, charges probably will not be brought against C.I.A. personnel: the 2003 case of an Iraqi prisoner who was forced head first into a sleeping bag, then beaten; and the 2002 abuse of an Afghan prisoner who froze to death after being stripped and chained to the floor of a concrete cell. (The C.I.A. supervisor involved in the latter case was subsequently promoted.)"



It seems to me that the same lack of standards is (generally) held for US military. A couple of months ago, a US military person beat an Iraqi General to death and got a demotion, but no jail time. That Iraqi General had turned himself in to the US forces because his two sons were detained. Imagine if someone in a foreign military beat a surrendured American General to death......

I am inclined to think this investigation has "legs" since the US Marines are now lecturing the Marines in Iraq on "lawful" killings.

I don't think the death penalty is an appropriate response to criminal behavior at any time. It solves nothing, and detains no one from committing these crimes. Somehow, people have the idea that if we just kill the "bad guys" off, then everything will be just fine. How many centuries do we go on doing this before someone notices that it does not work? How long before someone realizes that killing the "terrorists" in Iraq is just making more of them?
Has anyone considered that the demostrably media savvy insurgency, funded and fueled by regimes with a strong, vested interest in seeing failure and humiliation for the U.S., may be working the media? How easy would it be for the insurgency, already having shown its complete lack of concern for the lives of women and children (in fact, arguably they appreciate these deaths more for the political impact and media frenzy) to throw this together? Perhaps even construct the entire event? This is not a new tactic, and has been used by such movements in numerous conflicts and guises. I certainly don't think this group - characterized by cheering when 3,000 plus non-combatant men women and children die; that spend unbelievably amounts of energy and commit Gordian twists of logic to rationalize terrorism; that basically advocate the assasination of heads of state in 1st world democracies; that don't just ignore the plights of ten's of millions in the most repressive regimes, where things that qualify as attrocities occur (and are ignored by our media) on a routine basis, but actually applaud and actively encourage these efforts; issue believable threats backed by decades of practicle proofs of concept in exterminating entire peoples; that saw off the heads of living human beings in as a demonstration they believe to be perfectly righteous; ad nauseum - are above thinking up, planning and executing an operation that would implicate U.S. Marines in an attrocity. I am surprised that we have not seen many more such attempts by now, and even more surprised that no one is explring this possibility at least in the so-called right wing camp.

Instead, here we all are contemplating our feelings on the use of the death penalty. Interesting. Whether or not not this has actually occurred is a long way from being determined. We have already seen numerous examples of the media and certain politicians quick jump to conclusions and willingness to pursue stories with overtly dubious credibility for their own agendas, and yet we automatically start planning our stance on punishment in reaction to more of the same. Are we thinking critically, or not? My inclination is to give the benefit of the doubt to our service men, and reserve judgement for the proper conclusion of investigation, and if need be, trial. I certainly am not going to spend anytime fantasizing on how to deal with a modern day My Lai until there is strong and irrefutable proof that it actually occurred.
Is it wrong to wax philosophically on the appropriate punishment for the alleged crimes if they were indeed committed and Marines are found guilty of murder? For me, it is this desire to seek and obtain accountability when appropriate that is a hallmark of American society. Certainly, there are some who have already come to conclusions prior to all the facts being known; however, the majority of the commenters here have not convicted, but rather only contemplated on the potential, and I think that they are fully within their bounds to make such comments.
Lest anyone think I am glossing over Abu Ghraib, let me state that it is the "Photo-Op" stunt that I am talking about, and which has been the most publicized incident at Abu Ghraib. Lindy England is the most prominent defendant in that case, and all should be punished. If murder took place, it should also be punished accordingly.

"It seems to me that the same lack of standards is (generally) held for US military."

Yet the New Yorker article you cite has this to say:
"Whereas the military has subjected itself to a dozen internal investigations in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal, and has punished more than two hundred soldiers for wrongdoing, the agency has undertaken almost no public self-examination."

I think and hope that this has legs also. Legs that run hard enough to find out the truth.

Now, as to the death penalty debate. "Solves nothing" is a pretty heavy generalization. It absolutely solves the problem of a convicted murderer ever murdering again. I would be willing to bet that if it were guaranteed that if convicted of -insert crime here-(murder or something similar), one would die within six months to a year, that whatever behavior you were trying to control would in general diminish, so long as the punishment is indeed proportional to the crime. As to whether or not the death penalty, or any punishment works--what DOES work? I've not seen demonstrated in any society a system of justice that can guarantee an end to the crime it seeks to address, because human nature does not work that way. The punishment should fit the crime, and it should be carried out in a timely manner, once guilt has been established to the satisfaction of our limited human abilities.

You missed the point.
What point is that? That the insurgents may have staged such an event? Irrelevant to discussing hypothetical outcomes that are couched as such.
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