Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Military Justice

Did you see where the last Marine out of eight, Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich, was given a virtual free pass at his court martial for his part in the murder of 24 Iraqi civilians including 10 women and children and one guy in a wheelchair, in the town of Haditha in 2005? The charge against all of these Marines was manslaughter. This was another of those horrific acts that we actually heard about--how many other atrocities committed by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan do you think will never come to light? I would argue that several more are out there. After one of the Marines in his squad was killed by an IED, Wuterich told his squad to shoot first and ask questions later as they entered a clutch of houses down the road from where the IED exploded. The other seven guys? Well, one was acquitted, and the other six guys had charges against them dropped. Wuterich pleaded out: he got to walk in exchange for a guilty plea to a single charge of negligent dereliction of duty.

The source article says nothing about his being dismissed from the service, but he's getting busted and is taking a pay cut. A little out of whack with the crime, dontcha think?  We should note that military justice has actually progressed in sparing the guilty in this matter of murdering civilians. During the Vietnam war, Lt William Calley, who gave the order that resulted in the death of over 500 civilians at the village of Mai Lai, and his court martial sentenced him to life imprisonment, which only seems fair to me. (I have to observe, however, that Calley was basically the fall guy for this crime; it got covered up all up the chain, and didn't come out but by the investigative reporting of Seymour Hirsch of the NYT.) But there was such and outcry and furor that President Nixon pardoned him right out of Leavenworth and into civilian life. Wuterich, too, and his fellow killers will now blend back into American life as if nothing had ever happened. But Haditha will never be the same again.
Post a Comment