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War crimes accusations drawing scrutiny to JBLM

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Sep. 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm with 4 Comments »
September 22, 2010 6:05 pm

Charges that five Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers  intentionally killed civilians on a recent deployment to southern Afghanistan gained national attention this week with stories in The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today.

That scrutiny also drew discussions on military blogs, including one maintained by Thomas Ricks, one of the premier chroniclers of the Iraq war. Publications with military audiences are weighing in, too, such as Army Times and Stars and Stripes.

The stories guarantee that many eyes will be watching when hearings begin in the weeks ahead to determine whether the soldiers accused of the crimes will stand trial.

Meanwhile, some of the families of accused soldiers are reaching out to the public to tell a different kind of story. Former comrades of Spc. Michael Wagnon have posted more letters testifying to his abilities as a soldier at Spc. Adam Winfield’s supporters are posting to a Facebook page. Web sites for Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes have been updated less frequently. Holmes and Wagnon also have support groups on Facebook where family members have been responding to this week’s media coverage.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs’ attorney has been overseas working on a case, and Gibbs’ family has declined interview requests.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. bobbysangelwife says:

    Makes zero difference if Wagnon is an outstanding soldier or whatever. If he committed a crime, he’s liable just like anyone else.
    Same with the others. You know the difference between what is right and what is wrong by the time you’re in grade school. You cannot claim ignorance on this. You can be the ‘greatest guy’ or ‘the nicest boy you’ll ever meet’ and still screw things up. It’s about following our laws as a nation, it’s about morality, it’s about personal responsibility.
    You do the crime, you’re liable for it. Period. Cut and dry.

  2. We need to closely examine how otherwise well trained highly disciplined soldiers can commit such crimes. There is something that happens to these young men once they get into a war zone that eventually changes what is unacceptible in America to acceptable in a combat zone. I believe we must examine the profound stress of eminent death or the witness to war that somehow changes the abnormal to the normal. To those who have not seen the horror of war, I caution you not to be quick to judge these men.

  3. adamashton says:

    Good comments. So far, lawyers for Wagnon and Gibbs contend that the killings resulted for legitimate engagements in combat. Wagnon’s attorney said Wagnon fired his weapon when a grenade exploded, and that Wagnon was not aware of a conspiracy to kill Afghans.

    Winfield’s lawyer argues that Gibbs devised the killing scenarios, and that Winfield was in “survival mode.” Winfield’s father says he tried to contact JBLM about his concerns about the platoon before the last killing.

    Morlock’s attorney has not taken interview requests lately.

    Holmes’ lawyer says the 19-year-old fired his weapon while leaping behind a wall after he saw a grenade on the ground, meaning he probably didn’t hit anyone.

    Only Morlock and Gibbs are accused of all three murders.

  4. flock126 says:

    In regards to ‘bobbysangelwife’ comment;

    I tried very hard to understand your prespective, but I’m still having a hard time figuring out where you are coming from. I am one of the moderators of the website, ‘ ‘ Since I can’t understand where you are coming from, I want to explain my side, and the side of my fellow comrades I served with in the U.S. Army.

    I quote, “Makes zero difference if Wagnon is an outstanding soldier or whatever. If he committed a crime, he’s liable just like anyone else.” Personally, I hate making assumptions because if your wrong you look like a complete idiot. But with your statement I just quoted above, I’m going to assume you believe Michael is guilty of these charges. You can deny that assumption, by saying, I said, “If he committed a crime, …..”, but the statement you made before that ‘Implies’ you think he is guilty.

    With that said, where myself, and these other soldiers are coming from is; people just don’t ‘snap’ for no reason! It’s not as if he woke up one morning, and decided, ‘I wouldn’t mind killing an innocent person today.’ For a person to snap, there are ‘Always’ things leading up to it. If you look at most of the Infamous serial killers (I did an internet search on this subject.) there were ‘Always’ tell-tale signs that they were about to snap. The reason I said, ‘Most’ infamous serial killers, is because it should be obvious that I do not have the time to devote to researching ‘every’ single killer. The ones that I did find, ‘All’ showed signs they were about to snap!

    To my knowledge (I knew Mike personally and professionally), Michael had none of these signs! He hasn’t had any violent outbursts, history of drug abuse, or anything of that nature. If you research all the articles surrounding this case, Michael ‘Is Not’ charged with ‘use of a controlled substance’, while several of the other soldiers involved are.

    With that said, the purpose of our website, , is to try and get each of our personal experiences with Mike out to the general public. The only knowledge currently available to them, are the Media reports, which I must admit, don’t paint a pretty picture of Mike. That is why we started our website. We want people to know the ‘Real’ Michael, not the picture of Michael that ‘his unit’ has painted of him by filing these ‘Ridiculous’ charges!

    I also wanted to state,

    1. Michael ‘Is Not’ claiming Ignorance of any type. He is a Very Intelligent young man, and is also one of the most Professional Soldiers I know.

    2. You also stated, “…., it’s about morality”. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong, but did we not separate ‘Church from State’ long ago? Morals, in my opinion, are never on the battle field! What do I mean? The politicians that run our Wonderful Country decide what job the American soldier will be ‘Forced’ to do. When a soldier is put in a place of ‘Danger’, sometimes his morals don’t mean a thing at all. He might not want to kill a person, but if that person is threatening his life, or lives of his fellow soldiers, you better believe that soldier will kill a person without thinking twice about it. So as I have already stated, when you’re in a place of danger, fighting for your life, morals don’t mean anything! Unless you want to die for your morals or beliefs. Then, and only then, can you say morals belong on the battlefield. One last thing about morals. If you think Michael should be found guilty because what he might or “might not” have done was morally wrong; Do you think we should arrest our President? The latest polls, show that the vast majority of Americans believe we should not still be in Iraq, and Afghanistan. So what is it? Are you going to arrest the president??? Of course this remark is sarcastic, and does not require a response. I’m just trying to prove my point.

    3. You do the crime, you pay the time! I couldn’t agree more. But even though ‘It Seems’ that you are ready to skip the trial, skip the Military Jury (a jury of his peers, Soldiers.), and skip the verdict of ‘Innocent or Guilty’, and get right to the Good ‘Ol Hangin’, I beg of you to slow down. Have you, or have you not heard of the ‘presumption of innocence’? What that translates to (just in case you haven’t taken ‘Law’ in college) is that defendants in criminal cases are ‘Presumed Innocent’ until proven guilty. Furthermore, (before you break out your ‘lynch rope’) the U.S. Constitution, specifically Amendments 5, and 6 (both ratified 1791) guarantee my brother (SPC Wagnon) to be not ‘deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law’, and ‘shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.’

    Furthermore, I’d like to state before ‘Anybody’ continues to send hideous ‘Hate’ mail (which has already been sent by Several different people) to our website, , at least you first wait until Michael has his trial.

    Before he is found guilty of Any crime, the government must (1) demonstrate that his ‘Alleged’ acts violated a criminal statue; (2) prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed those acts; and (3) prove that he had the capacity to form a criminal intent.

    With that said, I would like to thank you for using your ‘freedoms’ that, Michael, myself, and our fellow brothers have fought to defend; even if it is used to tear down an ‘Honorable Soldier’. God bless America, god bless our soldiers, and god bless our freedoms; free speech, free press, etc etc etc.

    P.S. One last thing on ‘Morals/Religion’. Wasn’t it Jesus that said, “Thou without Sin can cast thy first stone”???

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