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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dereliction of Duty

I will not be demonstrating originality when I say that what the newspapers and television covers, and what the blogs cover are two totally different worlds.

The old media is still covering the pictures from Abu Ghraib when the "new media" (talk radio, blogs, and forums) moved on since before Nick Berg. Now, today, the stories in the press are:
  • the pull-out from Najaf (good news! yea!)
  • The arrest of Cleric "Hook" (good news! yea!)
  • The President meeting with guys who had their hands chopped off by Saddam for not much reason at all (one guy had made a phone call asking about the current price of gold)
  • Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson (blah!)
  • Sen. Kerry's foreign policy and internal security non-plans (yawn)

But if you want find out the important story, then you have to check out the new media. And, kids, THE story here is the REPRIMAND of several soldiers that threw two Iraqis into the Tigris river for being out after curfew. For one of the Iraqi men, his body was dragged from the river ten days later.

What's a "reprimand"? As far as I can determine, it's a black mark in a soldier's record. That's all. They have the option of filing a rebuttal in writing which will also be added to their record. As far as I can determine this is not the first step toward a general court marshall. THIS IS THE FINAL DETERMINATION OF PUNISHMENT. This not good.

Considering what I can glean from the evidence, this is probably what would happen to cops in America who did the same thing. No one saw the man drown, so maybe it is not beyond reasonable doubt that he got out of the river and happened to drown a short time later...but the military does not have to make judgements on whether a soldier's guilt is beyond reasonable doubt. The military can rule on what is most likely.

Here's a powerpoint overview on US Army Justice.

It seems to me that the military, is closing ranks here. Samarra is one of Iraq's "troubled" cities. Early on, they allied themselves with other centers of insurgency like Tikrit. So when these soldiers found these men driving after curfew, they treated them like hostile insurgents. Maybe they were, I have no way of knowing. Maybe in the mind of the military judges, these soldiers were up against a major task and meant no real harm. But great harm was done, and the way we pacify Iraq is a major front in this war.

It seems to me that the well-being of these guys' brother soldiers serving in Iraq (as well as the continuing defeat of the Saddamites and Islamists) depended on these guys being treated very harshly. It seriously bugs me to see commanding officers, who would send a soldier into Najaf to be potentially killed or maimed for life, yet unwilling to see a soldier who has behaved unprofessionally serve a few years in a military prison.

These judges shirked their patriotic duty.

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