This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Genuine justice doesn’t play favorites with either criminals or their victims. A state, for example, that’s quick to execute murderers who kill whites, but not those who kill blacks, shouldn’t be in the business of executing anyone at all.
For many years, the U.S. military court system has been flunking the test of impartiality in handing down death sentences. As The News Tribune’s Adam Ashton documented Sunday, the military has been willing to condemn its own to death only if they kill Americans. For killing foreign noncombatants, U.S. personnel have gotten – at most – life in prison.
The four soldiers, one airman and one Marine now on death row at Fort Leavenworth all got there by murdering fellow Americans. In more recent cases, prosecutors have sought the death sentence against two defendants: Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of slaughtering 13 people in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, and Army Sgt. John Russell, accused for murdering five other service members in 2009 in Iraq.
Conspicuously missing from both lists are any troops accused or convicted of killing foreign civilians. Members of the rogue “kill team” – four Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers who killed three Afghan noncombatants for sport in 2010 – never faced capital punishment, for example.
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