Highlights

 
Quotable
Terror is a tactic. We can not wage "war" against a tactic.
Ron Paul
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
November 19, 2006

Military Plea Bargains Raise Questions of Justice


by Aaron Glantz

Four of the U.S. soldiers on trial for the murder of a disabled Iraqi man have reached plea bargains with military prosecutors, drastically minimizing the time they will spend in jail.

In June, the Pentagon announced that a group of Marines went to the home of the 52-year-old Iraqi, took him outside, shot him four times in the face, and then framed him to look like an insurgent.

"The accused are getting two deals," said Gary Solis, a former prosecutor at Camp Pendleton who teaches at the Georgetown University School of Law. "First of all, he pleads and gets a sentence shorter than he might otherwise get; for example an accused pled and the sentence was 18 months. The judge said he would have sentenced him to five years. And in addition, they're pleading to reduced charges."

Marine infantryman Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson pled guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in exchange for the court dropping charges of murder, kidnapping, and larceny. He would have faced 15 years in prison but was sentenced Thursday to just 21 months in the brig.

Navy corpsman Melson Bacos, 21, was sentenced to a year in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy. Marine Pfc. John J. Jodka III, 20, also plead guilty and was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months.

The lawyer for Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate said his client plans to plead guilty to aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

"The prosecutors are showing maturity in understanding how difficult and dangerous it is to be an American soldier in Iraq," lawyer Steve Immel told OneWorld.

That outrages Gary Solis, the former prosecutor at Camp Pendleton.

"Who is representing the deceased in these cases if everyone gets to plea to reduced charges?" he asked rhetorically. "If everyone gets to plea to reduced charges, is the justice system working as it should? At some point the prosecutors need to prosecute."

Another problem, say watchdogs, is that a very small percentage of crimes committed by US troops result in prosecution at all.

"Look at the case of two young men killed in Bagram [Afghanistan]," said Rahul Mahajan, who runs the blog empirenotes.com and serves on the steering committee of the antiwar organizing group United for Peace and Justice.

"They were killed by repeated strikes to their bodies that destroyed their tissue. The coroner wrote down the cause of death was homicide," he said. "Twenty-seven different soldiers were involved in killing these two men over a period of weeks. Nobody has been charged with anything more than minor crimes. The final upshot was they said that because they couldn't determine which blow killed these people they couldn't prosecute any one person for murder."

It's difficult to know how many Iraqi and Afghan civilians have been killed by the US military. The military doesn't keep records of how many people it kills.

Sarah Holewinski, Director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, told OneWorld that while US law entitles victims to file claims with the US military, many Iraqis do not for security reasons.

"The country is in such disarray that it's very hard for people who have been harmed by US operations to actually go to the claims offices," she said. "They can't go outside their homes or their neighborhoods and certainly if they go to a claims office they could be targeted and kidnapped or killed."

The only public paper trail is an audit by the Pentagon's Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The audit of one "emergency fund" found the military provided more than $14 million to civilians in 2005 in compensation for death, injury, or property damage.

But the audit does not show how many families were compensated, and does not reveal how many were turned down and why.

(OneWorld)


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Winter Soldier: Domingo Rosas
    11/8/2008

  • Peace Activists Welcome Obama, Will Push Him
    11/7/2008

  • Calling Gitmo What It Is
    9/23/2008

  • These Are the
    Consequences of War
    9/22/2008

  • McCain Should Know Better
    9/9/2008

  • Revelations of an Abu Ghraib Interrogator
    9/6/2008

  • Fallujah Fall Guy
    8/21/2008

  • Iraq Veterans Describe Atrocities to Lawmakers
    5/17/2008

  • Soldier Refuses Iraq Tour, Citing 'Stomach-Churning Horrors'
    5/17/2008

  • Vets' Lawsuit Opens Door on Suicides, Poor Care
    4/23/2008

  • Army 'Rewards' Outspoken Antiwar Soldier
    4/16/2008

  • Winter Soldiers Move Toward GI Resistance
    3/22/2008

  • US Vets Testify to Torture of Detainees
    3/19/2008

  • Tune in to Winter Soldier Hearings
    3/10/2008

  • Embattled Veterans Official Resigns Post
    3/1/2008

  • Vets Break Silence on War Crimes
    2/29/2008

  • States Consider Calling Back National Guards from Iraq
    2/2/2008

  • Bush Signs Vets Bill, Won't Ban Permanent Bases
    1/30/2008

  • Dear Soldiers: Your Government Lied to You
    1/26/2008

  • Parsing the Democrats' Iraq Plans
    1/18/2008

  • Wounded Vets Trade One Hell for Another
    1/16/2008

  • Iraq, Afghanistan War Costs Top Vietnam
    12/21/2007

  • US War Vets to Speak Publicly About War Crimes
    12/1/2007

  • Canada Shuts Doors to US War Resisters
    11/17/2007

  • Outrage in a Time of Apathy
    11/14/2007

  • Case Crumbles Against Officer Who Refused Iraq
    11/10/2007

  • Peace Activist's Son Discovers Pain of War
    7/14/2007

  • Troubled Soldier Gets Demoted, Not Treated
    7/7/2007

  • US Vote Could Close 'School of the Americas'
    6/24/2007

  • Homeless Vets Struggle Long After War's End
    6/13/2007

  • Latino Soldiers Who Refused Iraq Speak Out
    5/19/2007

  • Suicidal and Facing a Third Tour in Iraq
    5/16/2007

  • Iraqis' Mental Health Suffering, Say Doctors
    5/13/2007

  • Moms Spend Their Weekend Protesting War in Iraq
    5/12/2007

  • Ex-Soldier Recalls Horrors of Abu Ghraib
    5/1/2007

  • Iraq, Afghanistan War Vets Find Relief in the Footlights
    4/24/2007

  • Civilian Court Sides With 'Conscientious Objector'
    4/6/2007

  • Congressman Trades Iraq Vote for Spinach
    3/23/2007

  • US Religious Leaders Urge Bush to Talk to Iran
    3/2/2007

  • US Ill-Equipped to Deal With Wave of Troubled Vets
    2/16/2007

  • Reprieve for Officer Who Denounced 'Immoral War'
    2/9/2007

  • Officer Who Refused Iraq Tour Goes on Trial
    2/6/2007

  • Democrats Sidestep Defunding Demands
    2/2/2007

  • US Military Spied on Hundreds of Antiwar Demos
    1/26/2007

  • Antiwar Groups Plan Surge on Washington
    1/25/2007

  • A US Soldier Speaks Out
    From Baghdad
    1/23/2007

  • Sick, Literally, of Fighting in Iraq
    1/12/2007

  • More Subpoenas Come Down in Watada Case
    1/9/2007

  • Iraq Vets Come Home Physically, Mentally Butchered
    1/4/2007

  • Saddam's Death Leaves Unanswered Questions
    12/31/2006

  • Reporter Summoned to Testify Against War Resister
    12/16/2006

  • Experts Expect Democrats to Increase Military Spending
    12/15/2006

  • Natives of Guam Decry US Expansion Plan
    12/13/2006

  • Democrats Let Gates Slide
    12/9/2006

  • Spying Won't Deter Us,
    Peace Groups Say
    11/30/2006

  • Rural America Suffering High Death Toll in Iraq, Afghanistan
    11/29/2006

  • Military Plea Bargains Raise Questions of Justice
    11/19/2006

  • Antiwar Voters May Get Less Than They Bargained For
    11/11/2006

  • Active-Duty GIs Call for Withdrawal
    10/31/2006

  • Iraq Brings Wounds That Deepen With Time
    10/12/2006

  • More Dissension in the Ranks
    10/5/2006

  • Iraq Violence Leading to Academic Brain Drain
    10/5/2006

  • In Iraq, Strife Follows US Military Wherever It Goes
    9/28/2006

  • I'm a Veteran, and I Support/Despise This War
    9/27/2006

  • Doctors Under Fire in Iraq
    9/20/2006
  • Aaron Glantz is a reporter for Pacifica Radio who spent much of the last year in Iraq. His radio documentary, "Iraq: One Year of Occupation and Resistance," can be accessed online at www.fsrn.org.

     

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com