Inside Opinion

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Tag: atrocities


Horrifying testimony on the road to justice

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The Army’s Article 32 hearing for Sgt. Robert Bales was so replete with witnesses and evidence that it looked as if he were on trial.

In fact, it was a preliminary procedure. Commanders at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will now decide whether the evidence tying Bales to the murder of 16 Afghan villagers on March 11 justifies a court-martial.

That’s a foregone conclusion.

Soldiers saw Bales returning to Camp Belambay alone – covered in blood – the night of the massacres. DNA experts linked the blood to at least one of the victims. Comrades testified that he made what sound like self-incriminating statements.

Prosecutors have won outright murder convictions with far less evidence than emerged in this hearing.

Bales is entitled to due process, and the Army is giving him plenty of it.

His skilled defense attorneys are raising key questions about his state of mind, including reported drinking and Valium abuse, and the possibility that he suffered from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. They’ve turned up ambiguous evidence that there were more than one American involved in the slaughters.

The law must presume Bales’ innocence.

Let’s take a step back. Whoever committed the atrocities detailed in the hearing hardly deserves to be called human.

It’s the murder of the children that pushes this case beyond all bounds of empathy for Americans in combat zones.

The testimony included: A dead child whose head was stomped so hard that a footprint remained visible on it. Boys and girls being shot as they attempted to hide or run – while shouting, “We are children.” Children piled up, splashed with kerosene and burned along with parents and loved ones.
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Exemplary Army justice for Afghan war crimes

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The prosecution of war crimes at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Afghanistan promises to become one of the Army’s most honorable episodes – if it focuses as much attention on commanders as it has on enlisted soldiers.

The trials and hearings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have revealed an attitude of intolerance of atrocities and criminal behavior that might have been dismissed as the cost of doing business in previous wars. Last week’s sentencing of one defendant, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, shows how tough the Army has gotten.

Morlock pleaded guilty to three counts

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The horror, the horror

Hate to get all literary now, but these allegations of murder and dismemberment in Afghanistan and Iraq follow a distinctly familiar script:

Westerner ventures into backward land on civilizing mission (or profiteering mission – take your pick). Westerner progressively loses moral compass. Corrupted by power and dark impulses, Westerner winds up more savage than natives.

The book is Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Or if you prefer the cinematic version, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Or any number of real-world clashes between predatory European colonial powers and dark-skinned people.

The Taliban-enabled 9/11 attacks being still vivid in my mind,

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