A few weeks ago, I picked up on the case of U.S. snipers allegedly baiting targets, but I let it slip. Of course, the accused offered in their defense a largely disavowed top-down command, instructing them to do more or less what they’d been accused of. But no surprises here at all, classified information pertaining to the instructions and tactics — which lead to such outcomes as an Iraqi man being covered with a poncho and executed at point-blank range — were deemed “neither relevant or necessary.”
The grunts like Jorge Sandoval are eventually acquitted, perhaps suffering a demotion or a few days in the Brig on a lesser charge, and his fellow soldiers stand by his actions, hinting at the chain-of command which sets events in motion:
“[Sandoval] was just doing his job, as he was told. It’s not his fault,” said [Spc. Alexander] Flores, who, along with the rest of Sandoval’s sniper platoon, greeted him with hugs and well wishes.
Notwithstanding the fact that this is precisely the sort of tired defense that Nazi guards tried at Nürmburg, Flores was involved in at least one incident with Sandoval, under the command of one Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley, where he knew, or ought to have known that something was awry. In addition to Sandoval, at least two others under Hensley’s command have been charged for some rather unsettling incidences:
“After he (the Iraqi man) was shot, Hensley pulled an AK-47 out of his rucksack and said, ‘This is what we are going to say happened…”‘
Whenever someone tells you, “This is what we are going to say happened,” know that whatever follows is undoubtedly a lie, at which point it’s imperative to take a long, hard look at your moral compass to make sure its functioning. Among Hensley’s team, apparently they weren’t. Hensley’s squadron has developed quite the pattern of behavior involving numerous soldiers accused of shooting unarmed Iraqis, planting guns, wires, or other “evidence” on the bodies after the fact in order to “justify” the killings, and then getting away with it. So the government held a Kangaroo Court for Hensley himself, which again results in no surprises..
The problem is endemic of a system which poisons the minds of men who have been brought up to believe that what they’re doing is right, honorable, and necessary — and who are largely supported in spirit by a similarly indoctrinated population. The war machine has the propensity to turn them all into killers, under circumstances I cannot presume to imagine. It’s a cancer that goes all the way to the top, but the sham of a trial effectively insulates anyone who’s really responsible from the consequences of their actions or judgments, because whether such a policy of bait-and-execute exists was deemed “neither relevant or necessary” to the proceedings. Certainly, though, it is both relevant and necessary! If such a policy exists, then the problem goes to the top. If not, then it’s an isolated incident in a rogue platoon. If such a policy exists, U.S. law, or law martial will have a hard time convicting those accused of murder. If not, other facts unchanged, a conviction could be more easily obtained.
According to Hensley’s defense, “It could be argued that the evidence for each offered no clear indication as to the staff sergeant’s guilt or innocence,” which is only true if you’re willing to do the moral gymnastics required to write-off the whole “post-mortem staging of the bodies and evidence” angle, and the whole “This is what happened” angle.
Yeah, no clear indication of guilt there.