Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lindsey England

Defense: England Oxygen-Deprived at Birth

Well, I think ...

... it's an appropriate condition for her now.

When asked by judge Col. James Pohl whether England knew right from wrong, Denne said she had a compliant personality and tended to listen to authority figures.

On Monday, England told Pohl that she initially resisted taking part in the abuse at the Baghdad prison, but that she succumbed to peer pressure.

"I had a choice, but I chose to do what my friends wanted me to," she said.

This is not the image of an American Soldier.

This is the image of a monster.

I wonder if she named her child "Grendel"

Lynndie England had made deal for shorter sentence, could face new trial

FORT HOOD, Texas - A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England’s guilty plea to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, saying that he was not convinced that she knew that her actions were wrong at the time.

Col. James Pohl entered a plea of not guilty for England to a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison.

The mistrial for England, a 22-year-old reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photographs from the 2003 abuse scandal, means the case gets kicked back to the military equivalent of a grand-jury proceeding.

The charges that England had agreed to plead guilty to carried up to 11 years in prison. Prosecutors and the defense had reached an agreement that capped the sentence at a lesser punishment, the length of which was not released.

But Pohl's decision invalidates the plea deal.

This suggests that England will stand trial, and if found guilty will NOT be eligible for the reduced sentence for which her lawyer had negotiated.

On the other hand, it provides a defense which might make a difference in the finding in her case. If she is found to have 'diminished capacity', it could at least constitute extenuating circumstances. (Unless the basic training curriculum has changed since I was received at Fort Lewis in 1968, every soldier learns the difference between 'extenuating' and 'mitigating' circumstances. If accepted, either finding may result in a reduced sentence if she is found guilty.)

Also, if anyone in the military is forced to pay attention to the "tends to listen to authority figures" circumstance, that opens the door to prosecuting individuals higher up the chain of command than a staff sgt. (The commanding officer at Abu Graihab, a Bridadier General, was relieved of duty at that post; but she apparently received no further punishement -- other than, of course, that she doesn't have a career anymore.)

It is perhaps most galling that nobody between the on-duty NCO and the commanding officer has been charged with any crime. Dereliction of duty seems the most obvious. If these offenses were committed on a military site, and they were, the unit commander (Lieutenant, Captain or perhaps Major) should have been aware of them and should have either stopped them or reported them. To my personal knowledge, no unit commander has even been identified.

Mind you, I have no sympathy for terrorists. Call them insurgents, call them freedom fighters, call them anything you wish; I don't care what happens to them as long as it's eventually fatal. The world will be better off without them.

The few international agreements on the rules of war are careful to distinguish between soldiers and criminals. "Prisoners of War" are protected by international agreement; criminals are not. Such an agreement is the Geneva Convention. Or, as it is more formally known:

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

In Article 4, this agreement carefully defines legal combatants:

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power >1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:>

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;(c) That of carrying arms openly;>

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

It's difficult to determine the legal status of the prisoners who were abused at Abu Ghraib. We don't know who they were. We don't know whether they were actually "Prisoners of War" as defined above. If they are among the current crop of 'insurgents', they clearly cannot demand respectful treatment under the Geneva Convention because they don't meet the requirements under Article 4. Specifically, the following conditions are not met:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly; style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica;">(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

All of this discussion of Geneva Convention, however, is beside the point.

These prisoners were not being coerced for immediate military purposed, such as to determine where they had hidden kidknapped civilians slated for torture or execution. The argument that they were being psychologically 'softened' for subsequent interrogation is not acceptable.

They were just being abused.

The thing is ... we just don't ACT that way. It's not the official policy of the United States of America, and most Americans are revolted by such callous conduct.

The defendents in this and associated legal cases have presented a variety of justifications. The most common one (and one which has been invalidated by the Nurenberg Trials of 1945) is that "we were following the orders of our superiors".

In fact, Specialist Charles Graner, one of the convicted Abu Ghraib defendents and the father of England's child, testified May 4, 2005, at England's trial:

Graner continues to argue that he and the other Abu Ghraib guards were following orders from higher-ranking interrogators when they abused the detainees.

Sorry, that dog won't hunt.

In his testimony, Graner offers an alternative explanation for the horrible photograph presented earlier in this article:

Graner, who is serving a 10-year sentence for his role in the scandal, said from the stand that one of the central acts of the case — in which England appeared in a photo holding a naked prisoner on a leash — was a legitimate prison procedure.

Graner said he looped the leash around the prisoner’s shoulders as a way to coax him out of a cell, and that it slipped up around his neck. He said he asked England to hold the strap while he took photos that he could show to other guards later to teach them this prisoner-handling technique.

This is, of course, a transparent and pitiful lie.

On January 14, 2005, a jury found Graner guilty of nine out of ten counts stemming from his abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
This suggests that Graner has offered this lie for reasons other than his own defense. (He has none.) I suppose I should give him credit for retaining, against all expectations, some modicum of 'honor' (he has none) in that he is willing to lie in support of his former lover. I'm inclined to assume that Graner is a habitual liar, and since he has been proven to have no honor he lies out of mere habit.

So England is a monster, Graner is a monster and a liar, and the rest of the mob -- although some of them received much less burdensome sentences, being incarcerated for months rather than years -- were merely play bit-parts in this sad cinematography.

Ultimately, I've spent a lot of time researching and writing, and you've spend a lot of time reading, and we're no closer to understanding these warped yahoos than we were ten minutes ago.

I think I've given them more attention than they deserve. I only pursued this thread because of my convictions:
  • These are not American Soldiers; they're American Monsters
  • Any nation or culture will create monster. The rest of the nation or culture will be judged on how it deals with the monsters
  • While it is conceivable that there might be SOME justification for these egrigious actions, none has been believably presented
  • I am shocked. You are shocked. We want to believe that Americans wouldn't treat people this way without a good reason. We haven't been given a good reason.
  • Therefore, we reject these abherent members of our society, accept that there are no "
  • Do-Overs" in real life, and wish them similar treatment in the months and years of confinement which are their best expectation of a reward.

    1 comment:

    Dave said...

    Sir, with all due respect. I will be a 2LT in about a day. I'm slotted to be a rifle platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne. Two of my close friends died yesterday when an VBIED crashed into their check point on the main highway from the Airport to Central Baghdad. Obviously, I don't really feel like live is valueless. Otherwise I wouldn't be mourning their deaths. The thing I look forward to most, is getting to know my Joes on a personal basis and understanding where they come from. However, being that I just lost two friends, I'm grieving, confused, and questioning myself. I started this blog today, and will probably not write in it again. I understand that it is a Dark outlook but I am in a Dark hour of my life right now. I'll be squared away in a day or two. Sorry if you got the wrong impression. I just used it to get out frusteration, I didn't know that other people could see it.