Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cheap Kills

/ misdemeanors / torture /

Ah! Justice:

A US officer who faced up to three years in jail for killing a captured Iraqi general has been punished with a reprimand and a $6,000 fine.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr was convicted last week of the negligent homicide of Maj Gen Abed Hamed Mowhoush in 2003.

Prosecutors said Gen Mowhoush was tied, placed headfirst in a sleeping bag and died with an officer sitting on him.

So you kill a prisoner of war (and the victim was a general in the Iraqi army, so the usual claptrap about the Geneva Convention not applying, is certainly not an excuse here), in the process of torturing him, and you get a reprimand and a fine? What do you have to do to spend a couple of months in jail, commit genocide? These people can't even set up scapegoats (for a scapegoat this guy certainly is) properly.

Actually the LA Times have more details:

The jury apparently agreed with defense arguments that Welshofer had believed he was following orders to use creative interrogation techniques when he put Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush face-first in a sleeping bag, wrapped him in electrical wire and sat on his chest in November 2003. The 57-year-old general died after 20 minutes in the bag.

"When you're going to send our men and women over there to fight and put their lives on the line, you've got to back them up, you've got to give them clear rules and you've got to give them room to make mistakes and not treat them like criminals," Spinner said after the sentence was read.

Yes, why would anyone even think of considering a "creative torturer" a criminal is beyond me. I might note that since the jury decided that sociopath wasn't to blame, as he "thought" he was following orders, the question arises, who is? I mean you have a glaring breach of the Geneva conventions, not to mention a heinous murder, and someone along the chain of command should be held responsible. It is possible, nay it is overwhelmingly likely, that the final responsibility of the crime does not rest with this grunt - yet where is the real investigation of the circumstances of the Iraqi General's death and who was actually ordering the torture of detainees? Who was responsible for the General's prior abuse? Oh wait. We might have a clue...

This is so blatantly shameless that it's almost comical.

As bad as the murderer's lawyer was, the prosecution wasn't really out for blood:

...prosecutor Capt. Elana Matt asked the jury for a two-year prison term and said Welshofer did not deserve to remain in the military.

"The reputation of the Army has been eroded by Mr. Welshofer's action … and society needs to know that that will not be tolerated," she said. "Now's your chance to tell society that when we say it, we mean it."

Note: two years in jail and being kicked off the military for the "erosion" of the Army's reputation. And that's the prosecution. Nowhere is there the slightest hint that there might be more to erode that reputation than a "bad soldier".

The full story of the events was presented in a Washington Post report this past August. There's certainly more information there than was allowed out of the sham trial.

BTW this is not the first Iraqi CIA related death case that leads to nothing.

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