Friday, February 20, 2009

Sgt Leahy Found Guilty of Pre-Med Murder

Here is a link to a Stars and Stripes report on the guilty findings in the Leahy court martial in Vilseck, Gemany. According to the report, Sgt Leahy was convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of four Iraqi detainees along a canal in Baghdad in March 2007. Leahy was acquitted of accessory charges in a January 2007 incident where Leahy had allegedly assisted 1stSgt John Hatley in the killing of another detainee. Sentencing was to resume tonight (Germany time), though there won't be much to decide in light of the conviction (life or LWOP), but I have not heard the result.

In light of criticisms lodged against the MilJus system, I wonder if this comment in the TC's closing, as quoted by S and S, was playing to the mass audience, "If you buy the defense argument, you are saying there is no such thing as premeditated murder in a time of war — that the U.S. does not hold itself to the same standard it expects of others."

A question to our readers, a fact in the case that didn't get a lot of press, but was mentioned recently was that Sgt Leahy was a medic--see BBC report here. I wonder if that helped or hurt Leahy in this type of case? I think it probably was held against him, thoughts?


Bridget Wilson said...

Yes, my gut is that being a medic was likely held against him. Perhaps should not have been, but there is the perception that medics should not do such things. [I am a former 91B/N from many years ago.]

On the other hand, there might be a perception from the combat arms types that the guy was not trained to be an 11B and did not have the training and experience to engage the enemy. I don't know enough details on the case to know how it played out.

Anonymous said...

I know being a Doc helped Bacos with General Mattis in Marines' 3/5murder cases -- perhaps it was General Mattis' members the TCs arguments were aimed at - only 1 murder conviction for the sgt and it was unpremed finding, despite a guilty finding to conspiracy to murder and the other two panels found the cpls guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, including all the overt acts to committ murder, but found the cpls not guilty of murder and sent both home the day of trial.

Jason Grover said...

Looks like he received life.

Anonymous said...

What I find absent from all the comments, and from the press, is the real question. What would make a medic who is sworn to "Do no Harm" consider killing. The primary shaping of this event were done by politics. Leaders who tied the hands of the leaders on the ground. Leaders who would not let the soldiers there arrest the responsible people. Leaders who saw terrorist being released as soon as they were captured because they happened to be Shiite. Try watching the death of friends and fellow soldiers and knowing that you were not supported. Try patrolling a huge area, getting little or no sleep. Try being the calming influence between two sectors of a society that you are there to help and having them both seek to kill you. Having one side protected by your own government. There are many reasons. SGT Leahy was guilty of wanting to stop the men who were killing his soldiers. Stop the men who put a bullet in the head of someone that he kept alive as long as he could to try and get him to help. I beleive that the guilt in this situation lays fully on the leadership that created this atmosphere, where good soldiers would become so frustrated they would risk all to put a stop to it.
Politics created this situation. Politics was behind the prosecution. His being a medic was incidental to that, but his being a medic, who had worked to save soldiers wounded in battle probably had the most to do with his actions.