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Doing the Right Thing
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm saddened to watch the progress of the legal case against some members of 3rd Battalion/1st Marines (The Third Herd; The Thundering Third).

There's a significant amount of background to this, so you might want to check out this article from Defend Our Marines, and this blog post from Blackfive, by Uncle Jimbo.

Sgt Jose Nazario, Sgt Jermaine Nelson, Sgt Ryan Weemer, LCpl Juan Segura, LCpl Corey Carlisle, and LCpl James Prentice were all members of 3rd Squard, 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, of the 3/1. On 9 Nov 2004, they were engaged in house-to-house combat in Fallujah.

During this action, LCpl Segura was stuck and killed by a sniper round that went between the SAPI plates in his body armor, and he died in the arms of his best friend, Sgt (then LCpl) Weemer.

The Marines then entered the house from which the sniper fire had come. There is, at this point, much dispute about what exactly happened. What is not in dispute is that there were at least four insurgents in the house who attempted to surrender. All of the insurgents were killed.

Now, for those marines, such as Nazario, who are now civilians, they face trials in Federal District Court, under a law passed in 2,000 that gives the Federal Courts jurisdiction for crimes committed by former military members who are no longer subject to the UCMJ. The others ace courts-martial for their roles in the affair.

The killings came to light when Sgt Weemer was being given a polygraph examination as part of the hiring process as a uniformed Secret Service security officer at the White House. when asked if he had ever witnessed any unlawful killings in Fallujah, he answered, "yes", thus beginning the investigation.

The prosecution alleges that Nazario, Weemer and Nelson shot the insurgents.

Sgt Nelson has already given two taped confessions over the incident, and is now under orders to testify against Sgt Nazario before a Federal Grand Jury under a grant of immunity. So far, he has refused to do so, and faces contempt charges, in addition to the charges arising from the killings.

Reading over the entry from Blackfive, one gets the impression that Uncle Jimbo believes that this is all a tempest in a teapot, and these marines are being unfairly prosecuted.

I can't agree. In fact, back in 2004, I addressed a very similar issue, with another marine shooting during that action. Fortunately, that marine was later acquitted of wrongdoing. But, as I said at the time:
We ask an extraordinary amount of 18- and 19-year old kids. We tell them to go over to some place, and start killing as many people as they can, but only to kill the people with guns, and to stop killing them when the enemy stops resisting. We make them yell things like "Ambush is murder and murder is fun!" and then we send them out to do it, with the expectation that they will stop doing it in an instant when it's no longer strictly necessary. It's very hard for them to do it with the kind of machinelike precision we demand of them; for a few of them, in the rush of adrenaline, and fear, and happiness just to be alive, and bone-aching fatigue, it's just not possible.

And the hell of it is, the sheer bloody truth of it for the military commander, is that they all know it, and they all know that someone will occasionally go too far. And that person will have to become an example, pour encourager les autres, about the danger of losing control, of letting discipline go for just an instant. It will be necessary because if you let that kind of barbarity take root, it will destroy the ability to control the troops in battle, and such incidents will become commonplace.

We expect men to fight for their lives, and the lives of their fire team and squad, and to butcher the enemy with demonic fury, and then we expect them to just...stop. No, more than that, we expect them to not only stop, but to treat the enemy humanely, to treat their wounded, and to render appropriate courtesy to their officers and NCOs.

And it can't be any other way. If the men are allowed to slip loose from all moral bounds, there's no end to the depravity they will engage in. They are already in fear of their lives, low on sleep and food, with adrenaline singing through them. And history shows us that any group of people in that frame of mind, if loosed from all moral bonds, will do the most horrific things imaginable. What prevents us from, as someone so famously put it, pillaging in the manner of Genghis Khan, is not that our soldiers are more moral, or are better person than the Mongols. It is that the Great Khan's warriors were allowed to pillage, and ours are not.
It's such a thin line, and in the heat of action, it can be so hard to see. But we can't pretend that line isn't there, or that those who cross it somehow deserve a free pass, no matter how much we'd like to give them one.

It's all so sad, and so tragic, that it tears at my heart. But the principles of good order and discipline make it necessary. Even more importantly, the demands of justice require it.
 
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COMMENT BY MATT REMOVED

If you can’t stop the impulse to hijack the thread, then leave.

Or I’ll ban you. But thread hijacking ain’t gonna fly.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Are these the "Cold Blooded Killers" Murtha spoke about?

And honestly, in a situation like this, I frankly would much rather the soldiers fire their weapons than not.

Sorry, but those are our guys. Better the other guy than them....
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I disagree strongly with you on this one. When we send our troops into harm’s way I think they should be given free reign to fight without mercy. It is a WAR. The military’s job is to kill the enemy. From the description of the event I would have done the same thing. Either free them to fight as warriors or keep them home. If I were President I would pardon ANY soldier of any offense committed while in combat. Sure, some will go too far, but, frankly, I just don’t care about the enemy very much. Maybe I’m just a bad person.

"Sherman - War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is the sooner it is over."
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Then why not just nuke the place and be done with it? After all, it’s war.

And while we’re at it, why take the time to train our troops on the law of armed conflict. Just let ’em shoot anyone they want to. It’s war, after all.

Well, I’ll tell you why: if we do that, we will, in very short order, no longer have an army. We’ll just have an undisciplined mob.

And you, Rohan, apparently have no earthly frickin’ idea what Sherman was talking about. But, since you’ve brought him up, why weren’t his men allowed to rape and kill all the civilian women as he marched across Georgia?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Dale, you state it is a thin line, and you’re quite right.

However, remembering that justice is supposedly what courts are about, is making judgements on such a thin line, given the heat of battle, justice, particularly so long after the fact? I suggest it’s easy to make judgements years after the incident, in the cool light of rules, without the stresses of battle making a lot of your chocies for you. We sometimes call such people "Armchair quarterbacks".

Look, I’ll grant that one of the most maliable words in the English Language is "Reasonable’, but the question of reasnableness comes into play, here.

And I’m with Rohan on this. War is, by it’s very definition, the absence of civility, and of rules. Is it reasonable to expect such fine line adherence to rules in the midst of a huge absence of them?

I think not. Under the conditions (That we know about here, at least) it doesn’t seem so.
And while we’re at it, why take the time to train our troops on the law of armed conflict. Just let ’em shoot anyone they want to. It’s war, after all.
Well, careful, here. Let’s not make those who were shot, innocent victims, hmm? By your own words, they were insurgents... and that makes them enemy operatives. Do you really consider that they’d have shot innocent parties? I think we both know better, don’t we, really?
But, since you’ve brought him up, why weren’t his men allowed to rape and kill all the civilian women as he marched across Georgia?


Hmmmphff.

Couple things, here. First of all, such civilian women, were not enemy operatives, for the most part.(I add "for the most part" because I’m quite sure if I don’t I’ll cause a load on Google’s servers, from people trying to find exampes of such. ) There was nothing to fear from such people.

Secondly, when you start in with the prospect of rape, you’re operating in a whole ’nother area, so far away from that thin line as to be no service to your argument at all.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
But, since you’ve brought him up, why weren’t his men allowed to rape and kill all the civilian women as he marched across Georgia?
But is that what we’re talking about Dale?

Did these Marines rape and kill everything they saw?

I wonder just how "not disputed" is the "tried to surrender". I suspect it’s rather more disputed than "This occured". And I’m not entirely sure that after being fired on by a sniper and bumping into 4 guys who likely had guns, if I’d be able to maintain that perfect mental disciplin to NOT pull the trigger the second I saw some guy with an AK with in a yard or so of his person.

And that’s what I meant. That was a situation where waiting could have seen those AK’s brought up to fire on the Marines. I’m not saying "nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure", I’m just saying that if the guy has a gun you can see, and someone in the house was shooting at you moments ago, it’s REALLY good odds that he doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
My, my, my, Dale. A bit touchy, aren’t we, on this topic. And, yes, I do have an earthly, frickin’ idea what Sherman was talking about. People, like you, who try to make war all touchy-feely, wind up killing more people in the process. Also, cut the raping and pillaging crap. Did you see the words "in combat"? I doubt very much you or I would be in full control of all our rational, legal-minded, faculties while in combat, no matter how well trained. Our troops ARE the best trained in the world, and the most disciplined. They need to be given the benefit of the doubt in these situations. They do NOT need to be worrying about some idiot lawyer month down the road deciding what they did in a split second was a criminal offense.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
We weren’t there, so it is up to the courts to sort out what occurred, and what if anything should happen.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
so it is up to the courts to sort out what occurred
Yeah, well, the courts let OJ go, and sent two boarder patrol agents to jail...

Forgive me if my faith in the courts is less than absolute...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Sorry, but I vehemently disagree. This line of thinking is going to get our guys to hesitate, and some to die.

I’m not talking about justifying a massacre, or rape, or executing prisoners, or any other obvious wrongdoing. When you ask someone to put his life on the line, and in the heat of a firefight make a split second decision, you don’t second guess him.

That old joke about lawyers coming along after the battle and shooting the wounded stings, because of the truth in it. When the protests and examples become hyperbolic (rape), that means the debate is lost.

 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
I’m not talking about justifying a massacre, or rape, or executing prisoners, or any other obvious wrongdoing. When you ask someone to put his life on the line, and in the heat of a firefight make a split second decision, you don’t second guess him.
Yes you do, and it happens everyday.

There is a reason we have Rules of Engagement and train our soldiers to understand and adhere to them. There is also a reason the UCMJ differentiates between an accidental killing (usually excusable) and murder in combat and we prosecute those who engage in murder.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Dale & McQ,

Attitudes such as yours, and most liberals, are why I am actively discouraging my kids from joining the military. If they are to be sent in harm’s way, I want them to have the full support and encouragement of their leaders. I do not condone acts of a criminal nature, such as rape, but when it comes to killing the enemy I want my kids to have full authority over what they have to do. Since that is not the case today, I will make sure they understand they would be nothing more than cannon fodder for the elites in D.C.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Rohan, curious, have you ever served in the military and especially in battle?
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Attitudes such as yours, and most liberals, are why I am actively discouraging my kids from joining the military. If they are to be sent in harm’s way, I want them to have the full support and encouragement of their leaders. I do not condone acts of a criminal nature, such as rape, but when it comes to killing the enemy I want my kids to have full authority over what they have to do. Since that is not the case today, I will make sure they understand they would be nothing more than cannon fodder for the elites in D.C.
Rohan,

The discussion is about "murder". Where I come from that is an act of a "criminal nature".

I’m sure you wouldn’t consider condoning "murder" giving your kids "full authority over what they have to do."

I spent 28 years in the military, lived with ROE and the UCMJ and the laws of land warfare. The US military hasn’t nor should it ever condone murder.

If that’s what keeps you from encouraging your kids from joining the military, then I’d simply say the military will be better off for it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Despite the years of thought and oceans of ink which have been devoted to the elucidation of war, its secrets still remain shrouded in mystery... War is an art and as such is not susceptible of explanation to fixed formulae. Yet, from the earliest times there has been an unending effort to subject its complex and emotional structure to dissection, to enunciate rules for its waging, to make tangible its intangibility. One might as well strive to isolate the Soul by dissection of the cadaver as to seek the essence of war by the analysis of its records.
Do you know who said that? I’ll leave the reader to research it.

He was warning us, I suppose, against trying to run war by a rulebook.

Out.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
"If that’s what keeps you from encouraging your kids from joining the military, then I’d simply say the military will be better off for it."

McQ - You’ve just shown your true nature. You have no idea what my kids are like, but apparently you can judge them based on my comments. Mighty big of you. I had expected better. Even though you insulted my kids I am still grateful for your service to our country. Thank you for your sacrifice. And I mean that.

Grimshaw - Have I served in the military or been in combat? No, Does that now prevent me from ever voicing an opinion on the military? If that is so, then I guess no one should ever comment on something they have not experienced personally. If that is the case, I am sure you will no longer comment on anything to do with some one who isn’t you gender, your race, your religion? Shall I go on?
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Bithead:

CHAPTER ELEVEN

The Secret of Victory

by

George S. Patton, Jr.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Grimshaw - Have I served in the military or been in combat? No, Does that now prevent me from ever voicing an opinion on the military? If that is so, then I guess no one should ever comment on something they have not experienced personally. If that is the case, I am sure you will no longer comment on anything to do with some one who isn’t you gender, your race, your religion? Shall I go on?
No, it doesn’t prevent you (obviously) from voicing an opinion. Nor have I stated or implied any such thing. I’m not that juvenile.

You’re lack of service, however, does mean you also lack the first-hand perspective that would inform you much more fully of the things that Dale and McQ are talking about. And, since McQ (and I think Dale, but I’m not sure) served extensively, I give him far more credibility on these matters than you.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
McQ - You’ve just shown your true nature. You have no idea what my kids are like, but apparently you can judge them based on my comments.
Rohan ... my comment had absolutely nothing to do with your kids.

It had to do with what you said about why you wouldn’t encourage them. I’m sorry you misunderstood that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"He was warning us, I suppose, against trying to run war by a rulebook."
So the conclusion is to have no rules? Is this the junior high debate class?
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Grimshaw - What you have said is that I can have an opinion, but it doesn’t matter.

McQ - "If that’s what keeps you from encouraging your kids from joining the military, then I’d simply say the military will be better off for it." Read your comment again. It implies that the military is better off without my kids. So, yes, it does have something to do with my kids.

Question for all: Guessing at the direction of the country, would you encourage your son or daughter to join the military today?
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
McQ - "If that’s what keeps you from encouraging your kids from joining the military, then I’d simply say the military will be better off for it." Read your comment again. It implies that the military is better off without my kids. So, yes, it does have something to do with my kids.
And since I wrote it and know it was not aimed at your kids, I’ll just tell you you’re wrong. Like I said, sorry you misunderstood it.
Guessing at the direction of the country, would you encourage your son or daughter to join the military today?
My son is in the military today.

And yes, I’d encourage anyone’s kids to join the military with the implicit understanding that there is a code of conduct by which they’re expected to abide.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"Grimshaw - What you have said is that I can have an opinion, but it doesn’t matter."

So what if I did? What I actually implied, however, is that your opinion isn’t as credible. Go ahead and argue that on this particular matter your lack of on the ground battle experience doesn’t impair your perspective and that having it would lend nothing valuable to your perspective. Go ahead and argue that experience doesn’t matter; and then invite me over to perform your next medical diagnosis (I’m not a doctor). I don’t think you can possibly understand the implications of what your arguing without having lived through the types of moments in question. You are an armchair soldier and you’re argument is as credible as the guy complaining about the coaching of his sports team with no actual coaching experience. You can have your opinion, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth anything.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Rohan;

Correct. You win the Award. There’s no accident, here, that he was such a success in wartime, I think.

Grimshaw:
So the conclusion is to have no rules?
Not quite. I’ve never called for the abolition of rules. What I’ve suggested is that there is a danger in over-dependance on them in time of war.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Not quite. I’ve never called for the abolition of rules. What I’ve suggested is that there is a danger in over-dependance on them in time of war.
You mean like the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Doing the Right Thing = not murdering the enemy who is trying to surrender

Seems simple to me. The courts are there to decide if it was clear that there was no danger to the soldiers, if it was clear that the enemy was in fact trying to surrender, and if it was even clear that the people with guns in that house were the enemy.

Loosing your buddy to sniper fire, isn’t justification for opening up on people trying to surrender. I can’t say if I would have acted differently, but I would hope that I could show the restraint expected of me.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the system we live under.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Of course, if they had been taking fire from that building, they should have thrown a grenade or two in first to convince those inside to stop firing.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
McQ - Your son has my sincere gratitude. I wish him nothing but the best.

Grimshaw - I love it. "Armchair Warrior", or try chicken hawk. I’m glad to know the fact that I was never in the military or in combat now makes my opinions worthless when it comes to all things military. Phew. That takes a load off.

Now I expect you to do likewise. Know from now on that all your thoughts on everything you have not had DIRECT experience with are now not worth anything. That should save you a lot of time.

 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Rohan, you are incapable of reading or guilty of making ill-founded assumptions or lacking a cogent argument or all three. You are also stellar at asserting strawman positions and evading the point.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Grimshaw! Go back and read your comments. One of us may be incapable of reading or be guilty of making ill-founded assumption, but I don’t think it is me. I read your comments several times before replying. I think I am on pretty solid ground.

To disagree is one thing, to completely discount another opinion as irrelevant ends the discussion before it begins.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
You mean like the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder?


As Dale indicated, Bruce, wat we’re talking about here is a very thin line indeed, to the point where even those present are in dispute on the bactions constituting murder.

This discussion seems to me to be slipping dangerously close to trying to make AlQuieda’s bombing and beheading acivity into mere criminal activity, from he opposite end.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
And by the way, all, what we’re really talking about here is first and foremost a morality question, not a legal one.
When has moraity ever been as simple as a rulebook?

That’s what I’m talking about when I speak to overdependence on LAW.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Bithead - I am sorry, but before posting anymore comments on this topic you first must submit your qualifications. Are you now, or have you ever served in the military? In combat? If not, you’re comment is not worth anything.

Man, thanks Grimshaw, this gets easier all the time.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Bithead - If you are, or were, in the U.S. military, please continue, and thank you for your service,
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
Rohan - you are misreading a bunch of things here.

Grimshaw stated that he gives the opinions of people with military experience greater weight on these questions, then of the opinions of those who do not have military experience. I find that a reasonable position, and one which I follow. So, there’s no sense getting your panties in a twist taking this as a personal attack.

You stated:
When we send our troops into harm’s way I think they should be given free reign to fight without mercy.
This would indicate that you think killing the surrendering enemy is OK, and we shouldn’t bat an eye at it.

The UCMJ says differently. All soldiers are familiar with the UCMJ, and they are the laws the live under. There are also the Rules of Engagement, which vary, but certainly don’t say slaughter everyone in front of you.

Then there’s is the simple humanity of not intentionally killing people who pose no threat to you.

If all we wanted to do was raze Fallujah, we could have done that from the air with hardly any casualties on our side.

And you elsewhere state that, if they aren’t given free reign, then soldiers are just cannon fodder. There by insulting every serviceman, including Dale and McQ.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
And as with all such cases, I give these Marines (sorry for calling them soldiers earlier) the benefit of the doubt, pending the outcome of the case.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Keith_Indy - Your comments regarding the UCMJ are quite true. Those are the laws for the military. If I may, I disagree with some of them, so don’t get your own panties in a twist and take this as a personal attack. You all may be shocked, shocked, to learn I agree with 95% of what you say. (Except Grimshaw) I just think the military command is way too quick, along with the numbnuts in congress, to assume the worst in our troops. They are declared guilty by congress and by the press. From the military, and the president, you usually can hear crickets chirping.

We sent them into harm’s way. I think that thin line can be moved a bit more in their favor, without all the raping and pillaging taking place.

I do apologize for the cannon fodder comment. That was too much and was emotion driven. No offense intended.

Regarding Grimshaw - "I don’t think you can possibly understand the implications of what your arguing without having lived through the types of moments in question. You are an armchair soldier and you’re argument is as credible as the guy complaining about the coaching of his sports team with no actual coaching experience. You can have your opinion, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth anything."

Tell me how I mis-read that and where my replies were misguided.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
As Dale indicated, Bruce, wat we’re talking about here is a very thin line indeed, to the point where even those present are in dispute on the bactions constituting murder.
I’m not talking about that at all. I’m talking about your statement:
Not quite. I’ve never called for the abolition of rules. What I’ve suggested is that there is a danger in over-dependance on them in time of war.
Once again, is the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder something you would define as an "overdependence" on rules?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I just think the military command is way too quick, along with the numbnuts in congress, to assume the worst in our troops. They are declared guilty by congress and by the press. From the military, and the president, you usually can hear crickets chirping.
Rohan - the military command didn’t bring these charges. In fact, at the time of the incident, the military declined to charge them. Why they didn’t is unclear at this time.

The charges came after a confession was made on a polygraph test by a former servicemember involved in the incident who was trying to get into the uniformed Secret Service. That initiated an investigation and the subsequent charges.

No one "thought the worst of our troops". No one declared them guilty in the press or Congress. Law enforcement took a confession at face value, investigated it and found enough evidence to charge the other individuals.

Should they have ignored it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ - I was referring to the past 40 years in my statement, not just this event. Sorry for the confusion. No they should not have ignored it in this case, or in any case. However, I continue to disagree on what should be considered out of bounds. I believe in enforcing current laws, but sometimes the laws are wrong and need to be updated.

What is your thinking on how much force is too much? That is not a trick question. Again, believe it or not, I do learn stuff from these comments and replies.
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
What is your thinking on how much force is too much?
When an enemy is in your power (i.e. disarmed or has surrendered) and you deliberately make a choice to kill them, that’s murder. And that is unacceptable.

I understand very well that accidental deaths happen in combat because of split-second decisions made when the shooter perceives a threat that, it turns out, wasn’t real. They’re tragic mistakes, but they are mistakes. And because of that, for the most part, they’re excusable during wartime.

As I understand this case, the alleged action falls in the category of the first statement, not the second.

Such situations must and will be investigated, as they should. It is no different than the routine investigation which takes place when a police officer has a shooting. It is to determine whether it is a "good" shooting or not (i.e. whether it conformed to their ROE).

Because we do have ROE and require, on pain of prosecution, that it is followed, we can make statements like Ralph Peters constantly makes - we have the best disciplined and most professional military in the world.

And that’s a point of pride.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"When an enemy is in your power (i.e. disarmed or has surrendered) and you deliberately make a choice to kill them, that’s murder. And that is unacceptable."

That sounds reasonable and correct to me. But, as was said, there is a thin line at which the combatant becomes a prisoner where things can get blurry. In those cases I would default to the side of the U.S. soldier.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to that question. (And for not deleting my comments.)
 
Written By: Rohan
URL: http://
That sounds reasonable and correct to me. But, as was said, there is a thin line at which the combatant becomes a prisoner where things can get blurry. In those cases I would default to the side of the U.S. soldier.
And we usually do ... but almost always after investigating the incident.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to that question. (And for not deleting my comments.)
I don’t delete comments other than those of people who’ve been told time and time again not to try to hijack threads for their own little agendas.

You disagree? No problem. That’s what makes life interesting. It may get heated, but as long as the comments are at least marginally on topic, the comments will stay.

Thank you for pursuing the conversation.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
But, as was said, there is a thin line at which the combatant becomes a prisoner where things can get blurry.

Actually, the line seems to be pretty thick in this case, if the confessions are to be believed. The insurgents had surrendered. They had been disarmed. They were then executed one by one.

If those are the facts as the confessions lay out, then there’s no thin line here.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I’m impressed with your post, Dale.

Without opening old wounds over similar cases in the past, I’ll say that a lot of reasonable liberals have no interest in villifying soldiers over offenses they don’t commit. But we were and always have been right to be worried about abuses escaping justice.

Aside from the moral imperative of not falling into cold-blooded venegance, acts of excessive violence are poison to COIN. The guys who did this, assuming the stories are true etc, aren’t just morally off the track, they’re undermining the plan.

Reading over the entry from Blackfive, one gets the impression that Uncle Jimbo believes that this is all a tempest in a teapot, and these marines are being unfairly prosecuted.


Uncle Jimbo takes a tribal approach to these matters. He doesn’t care about what did or did not happen. He’s out there looking for sissies to crucify for making trouble for America’s Heroes. It’s not, to be polite, a disinterested approach to right and wrong.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Dale & McQ,

Attitudes such as yours, and most liberals


You can tell when Q and Dale wander off the tribal reservation: the mental health bridage down here starts calling them liberals and the centrist commentariat gets the giggles.

You must have been reading Q’s relentlessly liberal take on national health care, global warming, and the Iraq War, eh Rohan?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
That sounds reasonable and correct to me. But, as was said, there is a thin line at which the combatant becomes a prisoner where things can get blurry. In those cases I would default to the side of the U.S. soldier.
Correct.

Therein, Bruce, lies my point, as well. Add to that, the dimension of trust. When someone surrenders, don’t you by definition need to have a certain level of trust that’s what they’re really doing, instead of drawing you in so as to take you out when that belt they’re weaning goes off?

We’re talking about people who were making out like they were mere civilians, until they got caught firing on our people, killing one of them. At this point, what’s to trust?

Also, Bruce, I note nobody touched Keith’s question:
Of course, if they had been taking fire from that building, they should have thrown a grenade or two in first to convince those inside to stop firing
.

That’s a fairly good sized ’if’. And let’s be honest enough to recognize that we’ve seen other of our military get hung out to dry for someone’s political ends. Caution, here, seems the word.





Let’s ponder that for a moment in light of morality, given that this is a moral issue we’re arguing about in reality. What’s more moral? Taking the building and killing them afterward, once you’re sure only combatants are inside,(If in fact we make the assumption that they made like they were going to surrender) or simply tossing a few grendades into the building unaware of non-ombatants... say, women and kids inside? The combatants are just as dead, either way.

Also, of consideration; Which path do you suppose it going to cause more blowback from the Iraqi people?


And again, I’m assuming they’re guilty of what they’re charged with for the sake of discussion. In reality, the action being murder is still in dispute.
If those are the facts as the confessions lay out, then there’s no thin line here
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Therein, Bruce, lies my point, as well.
What point?

One more time for good measure: "is the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder something you would define as an "overdependence" on rules?"
Also, Bruce, I note nobody touched Keith’s question:
Also Eric, you still haven’t answered mine.

And, where I come from, what Keith said wasn’t a question.
That’s a fairly good sized ’if’.
No. It’s not.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"War is, by it’s very definition, the absence of civility, and of rules"

You are going to have to supply me with a source for that peculiar definition. The definitions I can find make no mention of a lack of rules, and historically I think you will find that there is some civility and rules in warfare.


"Well, careful, here. Let’s not make those who were shot, innocent victims, hmm?"

Interesting tactic. First argue in generalities, then when someone answers those generalities with generalities, switch to a particular instance. Where, by the way, did you make a distinction between innocent and non-innocent? If war is, as you claim, the absence of rules, the concept of innocence is rather pointless.

"Secondly, when you start in with the prospect of rape, you’re operating in a whole ’nother area,"

I see. Killing is okay, but rape is too naughty. So are there rules or not?

***************************************
"This line of thinking is going to get our guys to hesitate, and some to die."

" and in the heat of a firefight make a split second decision, you don’t second guess him."

Well, actually you do. Leaders get relieved, people get disciplined or transferred, all because someone second guesses them.


**********************
"but when it comes to killing the enemy I want my kids to have full authority over what they have to do"

But evidently no responsibility for those actions.

***********************************
"He was warning us, I suppose, against trying to run war by a rulebook."

Like the rulebook prescribing that ties must be worn in his army when not on the front line? I really don’t care who you cite, if they advocate killing unarmed people attempting to surrender, they are not only wrong but criminally wrong.

I heard most of these justifications, and more, when Lt. Calley was tried for his actions at My Lai. They were cr*p then, and they still are. It amuses me that when the police accidentally kill someone during one of those ’no-knock- raids they are excoriated mercilessly here, yet it is acceptable that the military can do worse because it is just part of the job.








 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"He was warning us, I suppose, against trying to run war by a rulebook."

I will also add that the rulebook also prohibits officers from striking enlisted men. I think perhaps his comments may have been motivated more by his personal disdain for rules that he disliked (not that he was excused from obeying and enforcing them, whatever his reasoning).
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Bruce
That’s a fairly good sized ’if’.
(Sigh) Editing error. That should have gone in after Dale’s quote as I posted in the last line. Sorry.
What point?
Rhetorical question: Do you understand the difference between morals and laws?

Tim:
You are going to have to supply me with a source for that peculiar definition.
Sherman’s quote, posted above would seem to mesh rather well with it. And since I quoted Patton before, perhaps another from him would serve well, also?
Battle is an orgy of disorder.

Interesting tactic. First argue in generalities, then when someone answers those generalities with generalities, switch to a particular instance. Where, by the way, did you make a distinction between innocent and non-innocent? If war is, as you claim, the absence of rules, the concept of innocence is rather pointless.
Same question of you, I asked of Bruce, Tim... Do you understand the difference between morals and laws?
Like the rulebook prescribing that ties must be worn in his army when not on the front line? I really don’t care who you cite, if they advocate killing unarmed people attempting to surrender, they are not only wrong but criminally wrong.
Go back to the scenario I laid out, Tim, and tell me what’s in that solider’s mind, huh?

e police accidentally kill someone during one of those ’no-knock- raids they are excoriated mercilessly here
I will ask you to locate one time I’ve done that. Ever.
Here or anywhere else.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Same question of you, I asked of Bruce, Tim... Do you understand the difference between morals and laws?

The laws exist to enforce the morals. Your point of view in practice results in an endless slippery slope down to wanton violence. Excess brutality is usually not justifiable only by emotion and dehumanization, nor is it always trumpeted only by full-spectrum jerks. There’s usually an arguable cold-blooded military logic. There’s an arguable cold-blooded military logic to first-strike nuking Iran. All you have to do is mentally escalate the threat to infinite, and anything you can think of is acceptable if it’s the most thorough response possible.

Like you said, executing everyone who surrenders is the most thorough way to ensure that they don’t change their minds about that statement. I wouldn’t logically argue with that.

Soldiers are called to forgo that level of security, because it is not in the interest of their army, their country, or for that matter their psyches. There’s a limit to the utility of saving your skin and warping the soul.

There’s also the minor problem that executing everyone who surrenders rapidly ensures that no one surrenders.

I’m reminded of closing statement:

(The lone exception to this is when people invent/use the term “insurgent potentialities” to describe civilians on the battlefield. Those people – you know who you are – deserve all the scorn they get.)

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Rhetorical question: Do you understand the difference between morals and laws?
Unrhetorical question for the fourth time:

"Is the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder something you would define as an "overdependence" on rules?"

No further questions of yours get answered until you answer that one.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Tim:
The laws exist to enforce the morals
Correct, and so I have argued in general for decades, now... But the laws because laws can never be perfect, can never have primacy, if true justice is to be served.
Like you said, executing everyone who surrenders is the most thorough way to ensure that they don’t change their minds about that statement. I wouldn’t logically argue with that.
Well, I’m not even going THAT far. When framed that way, I’d call that murder. But the way this has been presented thusfar, is suggestive of a split second reaction. That’s the scenario I’ve been basing my comments on.
"Is the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder something you would define as an "over dependence" on rules?"
And I keep trying to tell you, Bruce. You just don’t like the answers you’re getting, I fear. Understandable; Law being far more solid, and unbending, is far easier to understand and argue than morality, after all.

Let me try to answer it this way; I do not believe for a second that what occurred there was murder, as I suggested just now to Tim. But I’m quite certain the law, if used solely and absent the morality it is supposed to uphold, (THAT is what I refer to as over-dependence) can see it that way. Wouldn’t be the first time the law got over-read to suit someone’s political need.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
I do not believe for a second that what occurred there was murder, as I suggested just now to Tim.
According to the confessions, the insurgents had surrendered. They had been disarmed. They were then shot, one by one. One of the witnesses stated that he pulled two other marines out of the building, so that they wouldn’t be directly involved in the shootings, and states that he heard the shots as they were exiting the building.

But, that’s not murder to you?

I will charitably assume that you are simply ignorant of what is alleged, and are simply beclowning yourself through abject ignorance of what is alleged, what one of the participants confessed to—twice—and the statements of other witnesses.

Otherwise, I have to assume that you are...insane.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Aside from the moral imperative of not falling into cold-blooded venegance, acts of excessive violence are poison to COIN. The guys who did this, assuming the stories are true etc, aren’t just morally off the track, they’re undermining the plan.
Just to remind you, and set the record straight, their mission at the time wasn’t COIN, it was a full scale assault on Fallujah.
One of the witnesses stated that he pulled two other marines out of the building, so that they wouldn’t be directly involved in the shootings, and states that he heard the shots as they were exiting the building.
One has to wonder why the marines weren’t charged after the battle was over, and why didn’t this witness do more to stop it.

Like I’ve said before, we first have the presumption of innocence given by law, and I will give soldiers/marines the benefit of the doubt. But, if they are convicted of these charges I wont have any sympathy for them. Others around them knew the right thing to do, and these guys stepped over that line.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Dale:
According to the confessions, the insurgents had surrendered.
I rather got the impression that was still in dispute., and that not all the witnesses so testified.

Keith:

But, if they are convicted of these charges I wont have any sympathy for them
I’m not so sure.
I’ll be interested, certainly in how this develops, but frankly, I go with Scott, here....
Forgive me if my faith in the courts is less than absolute...
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
And by the way... Have I missed something in the news, where the Democrats have publicly latched onto this thing? I ask because they’ve latched onto other cases in the past, and used them for their own political/anti-war purposes... (Ones that mostly blew up in their faces)

...and yet, I’ve not seen nearly as much in the way of political grandstanding on this one as we have past cases. I find that different reaction curious, and I wonder what’s the driver, here?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Let me try to answer it this way; I do not believe for a second that what occurred there was murder, as I suggested just now to Tim. But I’m quite certain the law, if used solely and absent the morality it is supposed to uphold, (THAT is what I refer to as over-dependence) can see it that way. Wouldn’t be the first time the law got over-read to suit someone’s political need.
What a pile of mush.

"Is the differentiation between an accidental killing and murder something you would define as an "over dependence" on rules?"

Here, let me help you out: yes or no?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s not a yes or no question... I thought I made that rather clear.

As an example of why it’s not, I offer Jack Murtha.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
It is a yes and no question. So how about answering it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No, it is not.
You can’t separate this from such people, and the consequences of them, Bruce, unless we’re talking pure theory. Are you? If so, the answer is yes/ If we’re talking about the real world, the answer is a resounding ’no’. Out here in the real world, we got into a headlong rush to prosecute the military before. Remember what happened?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
No, it is not.
Good. That is precisely what is being determined in the trial these Marines are undergoing.

Consequently, despite all the rhetoric, you agree that differentiation is important, should be enforced and alleged violations of it should be investigated, correct?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
First, the ’no, it’s not’ is an answer to ’it’s a yes or no question’. You’re trying to separate things from the real world. THta’s what I’ve been trying to get you to admit to, here.

In theory, of course, you’re correct. In the real world we can’t ignore the rest of it, and that seems to me what’s happening here. And in the doing, we stand a much larger chance than usual of both punishing the innocent, and boosting the political ends of those who would cause us as a nation great damage, by doing so. MY read is that’s as big or bigger, a moral danger, as skipping by your point.

As such, and particularly given recent history, I don’t fully trust that is, in fact, what is being determined. I find it curious that you apparently do trust them.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
In theory, of course, you’re correct.
Actually, in practice I’m correct, which is why there’s a trial going on.

Look, Eric, what you blather on about isn’t at all "reality", it’s rationalization. Every soldier and marine out there know that there is a difference between an accidental killing and murder, know what constitutes that difference and know they go to jail if the murder someone.

Why you think you have to rationalize excuses for people who aren’t looking for excuses is beyond me. Those are the rules. Members of the military accept those rules as a part of their employment and understand the consequences of not following them very well.

This trial is an example of what not following them can bring. If they’re exonerated, then fine. If enough evidence is produced to convict them of murder, beyond a reasonable doubt, then they deserve to go to jail.

What it will demonstrate to all, regardless of outcome, is that there are rules in war and that when you violate them you are going to be punished.

That is how a military maintains discipline and professionalism and keeps its soul.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Actually, in practice I’m correct, which is why there’s a trial going on.
That’s to be seen, yet.
Why you think you have to rationalize excuses for people who aren’t looking for excuses is beyond me.
Because I for one am getting damned tired of people trying to make a point about Iraq.. or war in general, trying to criminalize our military... Such as, for example, the aforementioned Jack Murtha. This one had most of the markings of just that.




 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
That’s to be seen, yet.
... they face trials in Federal District Court ...

No. It isn’t at all yet to be seen. The process is currently underway.
Because I for one am getting damned tired of people trying to make a point about Iraq.. or war in general, trying to criminalize our military... Such as, for example, the aforementioned Jack Murtha. This one had most of the markings of just that.
And all of that has absolutely nothing to do with what I just said.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"One has to wonder why the marines weren’t charged after the battle was over, and why didn’t this witness do more to stop it."

You might read the link provided in the second paragraph.

"Weemer initially revealed the alleged incident during a job interview for a uniformed Secret Service position in Washington, D.C. in 2006, he said. The allegations came to light when Weemer told federal investigators he had witnessed the unlawful killings while serving under Nazario in Iraq"

Evidently the facts did not come to the attention of a charging or investigating authority until 2006 (In spite of what they might wish their subordinates to believe, officers are not omniscient and omnipresent). As for why the witness didn’t stop it, perhaps he was reluctant to get between emotional, stressed (In the heat of battle, remember?), armed men intent on murder, and their targets. The same reason intelligent people do not try to stop bar fights. They were also his comrades. I am sure you will give him as much of the benefit of the doubt as you do the accused.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
No. It isn’t at all yet to be seen. The process is currently underway
And thereby the outcome, And thereby the your being correct, here, is undecided, yet. Or is your faith in the court system absolute?
And all of that has absolutely nothing to do with what I just said.


They’re not two separate things in the end, Bruce.

The law in this area has been misused in the past, as I’ve suggested. You’ll forgive me please, if I’m a little sensitive about the possibility of seeing it so abused, again.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
And by the way... Have I missed something in the news, where the Democrats have publicly latched onto this thing? I ask because they’ve latched onto other cases in the past, and used them for their own political/anti-war purposes... (Ones that mostly blew up in their faces)

...and yet, I’ve not seen nearly as much in the way of political grandstanding on this one as we have past cases. I find that different reaction curious, and I wonder what’s the driver, here?
Simple answer, it’s an election year during which they MUST NOT alienate independents or the military vote. Since the primaries are just about over, they don’t have to pander to the hard left.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
And thereby the outcome, And thereby the your being correct, here, is undecided, yet.
The outcome has absolutely nothing to do with my being correct. It is the process underway that says I’m correct.
They’re not two separate things in the end, Bruce.
They are, indeed, completely separate things. It is you who attempts to incorrectly conflate them at every turn and in every case.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
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