10 years ago
As I said in the post immediately preceeding this one, the U.S. should prepare for more charges in the deaths of civilians in Iraq. I will not comment on the veracity of these particular charges. I have not on Hamdaniya and I won’t on this one (although I weighed in on Haditha). However, I will comment that this kind of thing is unfortunately endemic to war. Mistakes are made, civilians get caught in cross fire, and in Iraq, the insurgents are now using civilians shields (and futhermore, the difference between insurgents and civilians becomes blurred). I have read on the Milblog sites those in Iraq say that all things considered, if the U.S. troops feel threatened, they will defend themselves. And just for the record, I support that position. If all the insurgents have to do to make our troops cease and desist from firing is to find a civilian to pull in front of thelselves, then bring our boys home now. We cannot win this war. Once again, I do not know the veracity of these charges (or the lack thereof). I do expect these kinds of instances to increase, leading to charges against U.S. troops with increased regularity. This, in my opinion, is a bad trend, maybe even a fatal one.
Finally, a spokesman for the USMC (as reported on CNN) has said that the charges against the Camp Pendleton 8 “shows the world that we have a different standard than them.” Um, excuse me, but I have no desire to show the world anything about our standards. This is a profoundly poor excuse for bringing charges against Marines. I want to win the war. This will show the world that the U.S. wins its wars.
Update #1: Al Jazeera is reporting:
Two US soldiers have been charged over the killing of an Iraqi civilian near Ramadi.
Specialist Nathan Lynn was charged with voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting an unarmed man on February 15. Lynn and a second soldier, Sergeant Milton Ortiz Jr, were charged with obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier who reportedly put an AK-47 near the body in an attempt to make it look as though the dead man was a fighter.Ortiz was also charged with assault and communicating a threat in a separate incident on March 8. He allegedly put an unloaded weapon to the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison.The soldier who allegedly placed the weapon near the body was redeployed and left the army before criminal proceedings began.Both soldiers – from the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanised) of the Pennsylvania National Guard – are being held in Baghdad while they await hearings which will determine if there is enough evidence to hold to a court martial.
My comment: I could not find the complete charges anywhere except Al Jazeera (if they can be trusted). If it is true that a GI was charged with putting an unloaded weapon to someone’s head and threatening to send someone to prison, then I am concerned in the superlative degree. No, I am not concerned about what the GI did. Our GIs are going to be second-guessing every move they make. It will paralize them. I am truly becoming concerned about our willingness to wage and win this war. Now for the AP story.
The AP is reporting:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military has charged two Pennsylvania National Guardsmen in the February killing of a civilian near Ramadi, the military said Sunday.
Spec. Nathan B. Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, Pa., was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting an unarmed man on Feb. 15, the military said.
Lynn and Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr., both of the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania National Guard, were each charged with one count of obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier who allegedly put an AK-47 gun near the body of the man in an attempt to make it look like he was an insurgent.
Ortiz, 36, of Islip, N.Y., also was charged with one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8 when he allegedly placed an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said.
Both soldiers are in Baghdad awaiting hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a court-martial.
Maj. Joseph Todd Breasseale, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said Ortiz and Lynn are not being held in a prison but were not allowed to return to the United States with the rest of their unit last week.
“These (charges) are simply an accusation,” Breasseale said. “An accused soldier is presumed to be innocent.”
Both have been given the option to retain lawyers, but neither has made a decision yet, he said.
Lynn’s father, Williamsport police Capt. William Lynn, has told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that his son maintains his innocence. He did not return messages left by The Associated Press on Sunday.
The soldier’s grandfather, William C. Lynn, declined to discuss the case Sunday, but said his grandson was “a good kid, very conscientious.” Standing outside his home in Williamsport, he said Nathan Lynn joined the guard because “it was something he felt he had to do for his country.”
Lynn joined the Guard in 2002, Ortiz in 1991.
Members of Ortiz’s family did not return telephone messages left Sunday.