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June 21, 2006

Troops Charged --A Proper Decision

It pains me to type those words. Having grown up in a military family, I would like to believe that each and every soldier is a hero in uniform, flawlessly following the rules and orders laid out for them.

But having grown up surrounded by sailors and Marines, I know that isn't the case. I still remember the night that my father got a telephone call telling him that two sailors from his command were dead and a third was in critical condition at a local hospital -- because one of the dead sailors had shot his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in a jealous rage. The ultimate result of an act of impassioned rage was three dead sailors. All the training in the world cannot stop someone from going off half-cocked -- we are still dealing with human beings who will sometimes choose to do evil.

Which brings us to these charges.

Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection with the April death of an Iraqi man in a small village west of Baghdad, Marine Corps officials announced yesterday.

The corps said that the eight sought out Hashim Ibrahim Awad in his Hamdaniyah home, dragged him into the street, bound his hands and feet, and shot him during a late-night operation, according to Marine criminal-charge sheets released yesterday. The troops are members of a fire team with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. It is unclear what motivated the attack.

After an investigation, charges have been brought and a trial will be held. These servicement will be given the opportunity to show their evidence, while the government will be given the opportunity to prove their guilt. When criminal behavior is believed to have taken place, we bring charges and provide the accused with due process. THAT IS HOW AMERICANS DO THINGS.

What are they accused of having done?

Officials here disclosed little information about the case itself. But earlier this month, Marine officials and members of Congress who had been briefed on the case said the eight men appeared to have dragged a 52-year-old Iraqi man from his house in the town of Hamdaniya, west of Baghdad, on April 26, and shot him without provocation.

They said the marines had then placed a shovel and bomb components near the man's body to make it seem that he had been digging a hole for a roadside explosive, and also placed an AK-47 near his body.

I do not begin to claim knowledge of the truth of these charges. I do, however, have faith in the system under which they have been charged and under which they will be tried. It works -- I've seen it work.

There are those out there who are kicking up a fuss about these charges, claiming that they should not have been brought and that American servicement should not be punished for any action they commit in the theater of war. That goes against every American tradition -- and would make us no better than the jihadis we fight. We punish those of our troops who commit inhuman acts against the laws of war and civilized society -- it is our jihadi enemy who glorifies and rewards such barbarism.

And to those who argue that this prosecution is a sham and that the charges are a result of a PC desire to appease the Left, the media, or the "world community", I offer this suggestion -- you are showing the same sort of contempt for our nation's military that those groups do on a daily basis, and you are saying that the US military and US government deserve exactly the sort of scorn those unworthies heap upon them. In short, you have become the very thing you claim to hate.

UPDATE: I particularly like this analysis.

Gary Solis, a professor of the law of war at Georgetown University, said it is unfortunate that the cases have surfaced at the same time, because they provide an impression of a military run amok in Iraq. He said that fatal mistakes are common in war, and that the key to these investigations will probably be to determine whether the troops planned the alleged attacks.

"Where is the line? The line is premeditation," Solis said of wartime killings. "If you make a mistake, you're not going to be investigated. The only guys that have to be worried are those that have thought about doing it and then do it."

In other words, it really comes down to the question of whether or not these guys made a conscious decision to go out and kill an innocent man not engaged in hostile actions. If they did, that is MURDER and they merit harsh punishment -- at least if one holds to American values and not those of the jihadis.

MORE AT Confessions of a Pilgrim, A Tale of Two Cultures, Blue Star Chronicles, A Lady's Ruminations, Blogs of War, Stop the ACLU, California Conservative, Michelle Malkin, Cao's Blog



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