Friday, May 28, 2010

Military Justice and Hypocrisy

I was reading some very interesting Memorial Day related articles and one caught my attention. It was talking about an American soldier who is doing a ten year sentence in Fort Leavenworth prison. The mans name is Sgt Vela and he was an Army Ranger, one of our more highly trained soldiers, and a trained sniper on top of that. It seems that he was on a mission with his squad moving through hostile territory when they decided to take a short break. They found a concealed spot and got comfortable. He was awakened from a short nap during this rest stop by the sudden presence of an Iraqi man in among them. Looking around they saw what appeared to be several weapons toting young Iraqis moving past a short distance away. The Iraqi in their midst started calling out to the others and it appeared he was trying to give away the Americans position. Sgt Vela’s superior, a Staff Sergeant, told Vela to shoot the Iraqi before he was heard by what they thought were insurgents. Vela shot and killed the Iraqi. Later, he was put on trial and convicted for non-premeditated murder because the Iraqi had been unarmed.

It occurred to me that, in a civilian court with a sharp defense lawyer, this young Sargent would have probably gotten off, or been offered a much lighter plea bargain deal.
When I started researching this I also began running across other very similar cases and quickly was able to identify at least 9 more soldiers and marines currently in prison for similar offenses committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is a partial list:
  • · Sgt. Vela, US Army -10 years
  • · Lt. Michael Benenna, US Army -25 years
  • · Pfc. Corey R, Clagget, US Army -18 years
  • · Spc. Justin Gruber, US Army -18 years
  • · Staff Sgt. Raymond Girourend, US Army – 10 years
  • · Sgt. John Hatley. US Army –Life Imprisonment
  • · Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo, US Army (20 years)
  • · Sgt. Larry Hutchins, USMC (11 years) (conviction overturned, waiting retrial)
  • · Sgt. Michael Leahy, US Army Medic (20 years)
I am not going to attempt to decide the moral right and wrong of their actions. There is certainly plenty of room to debate if these men should have ever been charged. In some of these cases, the answer is yes, the men involved are plainly bad people and well deserved their treatment but in the majority of cases there seems to be a lot of doubt and the evil air of political expediency seems suspiciously omnipresent.

The point of my blog, however, is none of that. It is the hypocrisy of their continued imprisonment under the unique circumstances of these conflicts. You see, at the same time all this was going on, many of the insurgents that were taken
into custody for killing American soldiers and blowing up Iraqi and Afghani civilians have subsequently been released and are now free to resume their lives (in many cases returning with zeal to the fight against us). However, our own soldiers continue to rot in prisons. It appears we have far more sympathy, mercy and understanding for the enemy than we do our own. Why is that?

Many of the soldiers I listed have done several years already. There are a number of administrative means available that could be utilized to overturn, nullify, reduce or commute their sentences. Pardons could even be considered in some cases. Where is the fairness in their continued incarceration while our enemies, many of whom are plainly guilty of far worse crimes and atrocities, are free to return to their loved ones?
I think it is time to recognize the travesties of a U.S. military justice that has tried, convicted, jailed and repeatedly denied clemency to all too many brave Americans, the same brave Americans who have fought our wars only to be unfairly charged with "murder" in the war zone.

The mind-boggling fact is that the United States has released and granted clemency in Iraq to tens of thousands of insurgents, including some of the most dangerous fighters our soldiers were sent to fight in the first place. "We ask them, did they finish their time in prison rehabilitated psychologically and they say, 'No, it was the perfect environment to reorganize al-Qaida,'" an Iraqi general said.
Do our men in Fort Leavenworth prison pose any such risks? Of course not, but they continue to rot behind bars, with neither former President Bush nor President Obama troubled by the injustice of it all.

All this clemency for our enemy’s spreads across the map to the Taliban in Afghanistan. American commanders are informally releasing Taliban fighters on their own recognizance after they "promise" not to fight jihad in the path of Allah again, or the “Politically Correct” parlance to that effect. "This letter right here is a sworn pledge from all of your elders that they're vouching for you and that you will never support the Taliban or fight for the Taliban ever again," one commander told a 23-year-old Taliban seized after Marines found a bomb trigger, ammunition and opium buried on his property.
Why no such clemency for our troops? Since January of this year, 200 alleged Taliban insurgents had been released from Bagram prison, including 11 this month. In one incident, after actually being dressed down by one of these newly freed prisoners, Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, No. 2 man at U.S. Central Command, "delivered a contrite speech as Afghan leaders and former prisoners munched on fresh fruit and chocolate cake." "If we detained you unfairly, I am sorry," Allen told the men. "I hope this is a great day for you to return to your families."

Perhaps we should be saying those words to our troops who are prisoners at Fort Leavenworth Prison.

Today's Fun Picture

1 comment: said...

What a F-IN CROC OF SHT, Send Soldiers and Marines to a COMBAT ZONE and then Court Martial them for MURDER? WTF OVER. I see the military hasnt changed any always covering their ass first and send the troops down the river.Bastards.