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Date Posted: Tue, March 13 2012, 15:55:43
Author: Don Poss
Author Host/IP: 184.108.40.206
Subject: Military Justice influenced by media and politics?
Like most veterans, I am concerned with the recent killing of what appears to be innocent women and children in Afghanistan, by an American Army Staff Sergeant. The questions asked now by the country is “why”, and what actually happened. But the major concern I have is the troubling comparison of the official response to both Fort Hood shootings and the current Afghan shooting.
I urge all veterans to be pay attention to the unfolding Afghan shooting news, official and media responses, and their sudden rush to circumvent justice and ignore the orderly progress of an investigation for the Afghan incident, while the Fort Hood shooter has not even gone to trial.
Please consider my above intent and do not respond with a pro or con political statement regarding the political election events in progress. I am concerned with a fair and balanced application of military justice with an unimpeded investigation.
Details are now emerging as to the 38 year old Army SSgt’s background and events leading up to the Afghan civilian shootings. One issue concerns The SSgt’s injuries in Iraq during his third tour, as a trained sniper, his being wounded, traumatized, and suffering PTSD after an IED blew up his Hummer resulting in a traumatic brain injury. Yet to be answered is the extent of brain injury from the IED explosion, and what medical procedures (if any) were used to determine his state of mind and suitability to reenter combat. We shall see.
A comparison of the Afghan killing of Muslims by an American soldier, and the Fort Hood killings of innocent Americans by a Muslim American Army Major.
I was impressed that the US government and military had not leapt to conclusions concerning the Afghan shooting, and spoke in measured terms such as “alleged” and other carefully worded comments that can set the tone for investigators, media, political groups and military prosecutors in the “official position” and direction.
Nevertheless, President Obama showed an even hand when he remarked in his weekly radio and internet address on the Fort Hood [planned and executed] shooting, as follows:
“It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas, it is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil … in the meantime I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Fort Hood in their prayers….I want all of you to know that as Commander in Chief that there is no greater honor but also is no greater responsibility for me than to make sure the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security, when they are at home, is provided for them…I hope in the meantime all of you recognize the scope of this tragedy and keep everybody in their thoughts and prayers…given the potential warning signs that may have been known prior these shootings, we must uncover what steps -- if any -- could have been taken to avert this tragedy."
The Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder [and wounded 32 others] for allegedly going on a shooting massacre at the Army base. Again, Obama presented a balanced statement:
"There is an ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy … that investigation will look at the motives of the alleged gunman, including his views and contacts." The next day he ordered the military and intelligence community to “undertake a full review of the sequence of events that led up to the shootings."
Just as importantly, President Obama remarked:
"The purpose of this review is clear: We must compile every piece of information that was known about the gunman, and we must learn what was done with that information…If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability."
But It is with today’s news and official comments that I fear for an even handed approach and investigation as to ‘what happened; why; who is at fault or blame; actions leading to the shooting; and why the SSgt was returned to combat at suffering a traumatic brain injury.’
Consider these news releases and bold statements such as the alarmist phrase and use of “death penalty”:
• “WASHINGTON - Pentagon officials insisted Monday that the weekend's Afghanistan killing spree was an ‘isolated incident’ and said that a 38-year-old Army staff sergeant would soon be charged in connection with the deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children. The soldier could face the death penalty if convicted in the unprovoked attack, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday.”
• “President Barack Obama is calling the alleged slaying of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier "absolutely tragic and heartbreaking" and said that he is still "proud generally" of what U.S. troops have achieved in Afghanistan while working under "enormous strain.
• WASHINGTON (KABC) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the Pentagon to do a full investigation into the shooting of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, calling it "outrageous and unacceptable."
• "The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered. We're heartbroken over the loss of innocent life," Obama said.
• “The president is working to calm tensions in the wake of the massacre. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the American soldier could face the death penalty if convicted.”
What concerns me mostly about the official response to the tragic killings of women and children in Afghanistan, is the commander in chief having labeled the incident a massacre and murder of innocent women of children,” whom this country will seek out and punish the guilty, sparing no expense,” while alluding to a potential death penalty before the full investigation of circumstances are even known. These statements and positions prematurely signals those in charge of military justice as to what is expected of them, and sounds a bugle-charge “mind set” forward to prosecute the accused shooter [Afghan...not Fort Hood].
How does a balanced scale of justice, play for the yet unnamed SSgt in Afghanistan, compared to the opposite direction flagged to the prosecutors regarding Foot Hood’s planned and executed murders? Especially when considering to date that neither Leon Panetta nor the commander in chief have called the Fort Hood Muslim “shooter” a Muslim, Terrorist, nor even a Murderer of innocent Americans -- In fact the shooter at Food Hood, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is yet to come to trial.
Nevertheless, will veterans and current military draw further confidence in the USMC legal system from their commander in chief’s statement that he is still “…’generally’ proud of our troops.”
U.S. military Veterans should expect a balanced and fair investigation of all circumstances and effects regarding the Afghanistan killing of civilians and Fort Hood massacre. Only then should the appropriate charges be filed befitting the cause and effect. It seems the media and politicians on both sides have forgotten a truism in the American legal system: the seriousness of the accusation does not outweigh the evidence and facts of a case.
If it turns out the Afghan civilian killings by an American SSgt, or the Fort Hood killings of Americans by a Muslim, were performed as a planned and evil act by a sane man, without mitigating circumstances, then the harshest justice would be perceived as just and fair by veterans and our citizens. However, if traumatic brain injury, or serving four tours of duty in the ant’s nest of Muslim nations played any part, then the public must be made aware of the role it played, and related questions asked and answered as to why the SSgt was placed in a combat zone, and permitted to simply walk out of the military compound alone and engage in such conduct. These details are yet to be discovered and must be answered if the necessary perception of justice is to be reached.
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