Skip to comments.Kill 'Em All, Let Allah Sort 'Em Out
Posted on 11/18/2004 3:34:57 PM PST by writer33
click here to read article
Negative. Don't start that oxymoron business.
I completely agree, MarMema.
Did you know you can ping more than one freeper at once? Just put a semicolon after the freeper's screen name, then a a space, then the next freeper's screen name.
Yeah, but I couldn't remember your name. So I had to go back and take another peek. Sorry for the inconvenience it may have caused you.
Stating that the ROP is anything other than a death cult is an oxymoron.
BTW, I was in Desert Storm too. I've seen it, Man.
Now don't make me roll up my sleeves and Howard Dean you, man. It might get quite nasty. :) Hehe!
calenel wrote: "The Marine shot an insurgent terrorist in the act of committing a War Crime. The terrorist was out of uniform (a War Crime) and using a mosque as a military base (a War Crime). Other incidents had occurred with booby trapped bodies (a War Crime), false surrender (a War Crime) and faking injuries to lure into ambush (a War Crime)."
If it were so cut-and-dried, I'm surprised that the West Point professor didn't raise this as a defense. Indeed, I have never seen this argument until you raised it. So you might be right, but I'm puzzled why none of the many experts I've heard discuss this situation concur with your point of view. I don't pretend to be an expert on this incident or UCMJ in general, but I wasn't aware that UCMJ uses one set of rules of engagement for "legitimate" enemy combatants and a completely different set of rules for everyone else.
My position continues to be that I trust the UCMJ process and won't be surprised if that process ultimately results in a conviction in that case. Taking this position is NOT tantamount to siding with the enemy, nor do I in any way condone the utter disregard for life and rules of war exhibited by the enemy, which I find deplorable and despicable. I absolutely support the mission in Iraq. My simple point is that we do that cause and mission no good by ourselves abandoning all principles and stooping to the same level of lawlessness as the enemy.
"I was ordered to do it" was not a defense at Nuremburg nor
should "But they did things that were even worse" be a defense in this instance. There's no question that the fact that the enemy has booby-trapped dead bodies etc. is absolutely an important factor in determining whether this marine might reasonably have assessed there was a credible threat posed by the individual he shot.
It's interesting that your response entirely ducks the truth of the claim that UCMJ does not permit the marine to use the "might have done X, Y, Z" defense and instead launches a broad-side ad hominem attack against me and a West Point prof. My experience in debates such as this is that ad hominem attacks are the last resort of those unable to debate on the merits of the issue.
Let's be clear: I don't claim to know s**t about UCMJ. Indeed I explicitly acknowledge this point. I merely was reporting what I had learned from the West Point professor because it was news to me and I foolishly thought it might be of interest to others attempting to EVEN-HANDEDLY assess this particular situation.
But let's also be clear that the issue is NOT whether it would be bad for the marines if this individual were convicted. Surely you're not saying that we should bend the UCMJ rules depending on what's convenient for PR purposes. Under that reasoning, the OJ verdict was a good one since it prevented rioting in the streets.
I won't waste bandwidth responding to your ad hominem attacks as these are irrelevant to a serious discussion of
the ISSUE, which is whether even-handedly applying UCMJ to the facts in this case should result in a conviction or acquittal. You apparently believe that UCMJ offers this marine more discretion about what constitutes a legitimate
threat than a West Point professor believes it offers. Based on the abysmal quality of your response, I now believe even more firmly that the professor--who appeared far more dispassionate and capable of clear-headed thinking on this issue than you appear to be--is more likely than you are to be correct about his assessment.
Your first post was such slap-happy garbage you really didn't deserve the level of respect responses to you have accorded. Your POV was soundly and reasonably slapped down. The so-called "ad hominem attacks" were just frustration with a debater who refuses to recognize defeat by sound reason.
TigersEye wrote: "Your first post was such slap-happy garbage you really didn't deserve the level of respect responses to you have accorded."
Blame the morons, not the messenger.
I believe the reporter who wrote the story alluded to in the above thread must have read your post.
Thanks for a reasoned reply. The WP professor is not my acquaintance. I heard him talking on (gasp!) NPR while driving home one night. The fact that this professor teaches at West Point and not at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. makes it unlikely in my book that he hews to a PC line of assuming America must be the bad guy or especially that the military is always wrong). Because he's teaching the very officers who have to command the troops in Iraq and elsewhere, it also seems implausible that he hasn't read the GC. I heard another interview with a Marine in the field last night; he emphasized the importance of strict rules of engagement in combat and clearly accepted the necessity of these "because the point isn't to kill everyone in sight" (or words to that effect).
In any case, I'm not in a position to "try out" your suggestions on this professor. I accept your premise that GC is designed to protect combatants. But just as the soldiers at Abu Graib "crossed the line" I don't think we should, in our eagerness to defend our troops in Iraq, automatically rule out the possibility that this marine crossed the line in this instance. I'm perfectly comfortable with letting our military justice system play this one out. My prediction is that there will be a consequence rather than full exoneration in this instance. You apparently believe otherwise. We'll soon see who is right.
What I regret on this forum is the tone exhibited by some of the most shrill that even considering the possibility that a violation of UCMJ occurred is somehow disloyal and patriotic. It is no more disloyal and patriotic than observing that while 140,000+ U.S. soldiers have conducted themselves with honor and distinction, there were a few bad apples at Abu Graib who were appropriately punished for conducting themselves in a less than honorable fashion. The Abu Graib abuses really did occur; My Lai really did occur. These were not events invented by the MSM to "get" the military. The military acted with honor and distinction in recognizing problems in their midst and bringing the perpetrators to swift justice.
Let's be clear about what I did or did not say. I said:
1. "A marine CANNOT kill another person based on speculation about what that person "might have done" as that would leave enough discretion to kill literally anything in sight, depending on the circumstances."
My source for this is irrelevant except in the sense that I found it a credible source for reasons I explained to canenal. But the statement itself either is factually correct or is not and you don't advance your credibility by referring to this professor as Professor Popgun: as you presumably well know, ad hominem attacks are among the most elementary forms of fallacious argument. Is it your position that UCMJ allows a "might have done" defense?
2. "I believe that like the soldiers at Abu Graib, this marine will be court martialed and convicted of being in violation of that code." This is merely a prediction, better known as an OPINION. You are welcome to your own opinion, but it is inappropriate to respond to this statement as if I am eagerly awaiting this outcome.
3. "Clearly, he should be given a fair trial and offered a chance to offer an explanation for his behavior: there may be an extenuating circumstance not visible on the tape."
Here's a clue that I'm being "fair and balanced" in my assessment here and not out to "get" this marine. In this context, your responding as if I were the moral equivalent of Michael Moore is wholly out-of-proportion and inappropriate.
4. "And until then, he is innocent until proven guilty."
Gee, I hope this fundamental principle of American justice isn't in question, is it?
5. "But offering excuses for the behavior, if indeed it crossed the line, is indefensible."
Please note the caveat you didn't bother offering readers in your reckless characterization of my remarks. I said his behavior is indefensible IF IT CROSSED THE LINE. If this marine is court-martialed and found guilty, are YOU prepared to argue that the UCMJ process screwed up and committed an injustice? If so, WOW! You really are the arrogant SOB that you appear to be.
6. "If we wish to win hearts and minds in Iraq, it is critical that we maintain our high standards and honor and not stoop to the complete lack of regard for rules of war exhibited by the enemy."
You responded to this remark by focusing on the ENEMY. To be honest, I don't really care if we have the respect of murderous thugs. I don't in any way think we should conduct ourselves with the motivation of winning the heart or mind of OBL: that's a fool's errand. But there are plenty of non-combatants (measured in millions of Iraqis who will judge this war and our role in it based on the conduct of our troops. Rest assured that if they engage in widespread violations of GC, that will not hasten the day on which all of our troops can finally come home. Do you seriously disagree with that assessment? I believe it because it makes logical sense to me, because I've heard it voiced by numerous conservative commentators (i.e., not pundits predisposed to finding fault with what the US does) AND by a marine in Iraq (admittedly, interviewed on NPR, so I guess I should take that with a grain of salt).
7. "That's tough to do, and it even, tragically, risks American lives. But for the same reason that freedom itself is worth paying for in blood, when necessary, so is integrity, honor and all the values that make our military the best in the world."
I have heard even Donald Rumsfeld state that we have bent over backwards to conduct our operations so as to minimize collateral damage and have heard in more than one place that as a consequence, we inevitably elevate the risk of death to our own soldiers in so doing. That is, if we could indiscriminately carpet bomb Fallujah, we clearly could have taken what was left of the city with almost no loss of life. So I understand that GC and UCMJ won't be interpreted in such a way as to recklessly endanger the lives of our soldiers. But a line has to be drawn somewhere. If we had seen the victim reaching for something under his blanket, we probably wouldn't even be talking about this case. But what I observed (I won't pretend to speak for you) was no such covert or obvious threat from this individual. In contrast, we observed lots of movement and talking from another wounded individual who unaccountably was NOT shot in that very same room.
As for the ad vericundiam fallacy, should we deduct just a few points from your own credibility given that you don't even know how to spell the fallacy you so pompously trot out? Please be advised of the following:
"Invincible Authority does, however, mimic a legitimate pattern of reasoning. It must be remembered that experts become experts by having reasons for their opinions. These reasons are examined by other people interested in the subject (including other experts). People generally come to be recognized as experts because their reasons make sense to others. For those of us who do not have the time (or talent) to consider the arguments for ourselves, it is certainly better to adopt the opinions of an expert than the opinions of a non-expert. This is why checking the credentials of authors is an important step in judging the reliability of sources used in research. There is certainly no fallacy in naming an expert as the originator of arguments that are then explained and considered. But there is an important difference between using the credentials of an author as one criterion for the reliability of information, and using the credentials of the author as certifying that a position is true." http://www.cuyamaca.net/bruce.thompson/Fallacies/invincible_authority.asp
I don't claim the WP professor is infallible. Canenal is quite right that this prof may have been cherry-picked by NPR for his point of view and for that reason, some caution is in order. But all other things being equal, the opinion of a scholar with no apparent axe to grind about how UCMJ has been interpreted over decades is going to carry far more weight in my mind than the rantings of a blowhard such as yourself. 'Nuf said.
Unfortunate title to a fine essay.
Unlike you, I don't hang around the boards 24/7. This is the first time I've seen your Thanksgiving Day rant.
Your claim that I have hijacked the '98 vanilla Freeper's identity doesn't merit a serious response. What conceivable "evidence" could I offer to "prove" I am the same person who posted 30 innocuous posts over the past 6 years? More importantly, of what conceivable relevance is this? Why is it so hard for you to focus on the merits of my argument as opposed to insisting on volley after volley of ad hominem attacks. Let's pretend you have proven beyond all reasonable doubt that I am "a ventriloquist's dummy, self-confessed ignoramus and I would add without fear of contradiction, a weaselly twerp." This would be quite irrelevant to ascertaining whether my argument has merit or not. In that regard, it is notable that your bloviating response contains not even one single SUBSTANTIVE reply to my 7 points.
The same observation can be made about your obsession to identify my West Point professor. I have gone back to NPR to see if I can locate the audio file so you can listen for yourself, but unfortunately cannot find it. So I'm not in a position to tell you who the individual was by name. I concur that in his case, knowing his identity could potentially be useful in ascertaining his credibility in the sense that we could look at his vita and see whether he's a learned scholar in the matters he discussed in NPR or whether he instead is weighing in on matters far from his own area of expertise. I am a professor in a top-10 university, but that confers zero weight on my assertions regarding UCMJ because I don't pretend to have developed any well-known or longstanding expertise in these matters.
Moreover, even if the West Point professor were a leading expert on UCMJ doesn't make him infallible, which is exactly the point of the vericundiam fallacy. Moreover he and I both concede that the tape is only one piece of evidence. Were this to go to a court martial, there would be lots of other evidence introduced, including presumably testimony of his peers who were in the same room at the same time and could testify to circumstances and conditions not visible on the tape etc. as well as testimony of the marine himself as to his own perceptions and concerns at the time of the incident. So we're all entitled to our own speculations about how this might play out, but it has to be within the confines of what the UCMJ. So if a poster claimed that the marine in question had a horrific childhood with a history of abuse and that this could be offered as a defense for his actions, I hope we can all agree this would be a ludicrous claim and not worthy of serious discussion.
I have made a single factual claim about the UCMJ: that it does not permit "might have done" defenses. This factual claim remains undisputed by you or anyone else. Instead, you have launched into a diatribe about how awful it would be if this marine were convicted and about how I have stolen my ideas from someone else and ain't that a shame, yada, yada, yada. Complete irrelevancies: it doesn't matter whether I arrived at my conclusion about UCMJ through years of my own study, through years of serving as a JAG, by hearing it from a WP professor or reading it in People magazine. My claim, on its merits, is either true or false.
So instead of wasting bandwidth on shotgun volleys of ad hominem attacks against me or the unknown WP professor, why not focus on a SUBSTANTIVE response to that simple question. Don't trot out gross generalities about how UCMJ wasn't designed to get our men killed. Please either refute my specific claim: UCMJ DOES alllow "might have done" defenses and cite your source, or alternatively, explain how it doesn't apply in this specific instance etc.
Here is my reference to the Geneva Convention rules regarding wounded combatants:
each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
I'm not a troll. I don't care to have my IP address publicized, but am happy to authorize the moderator to confirm that my posts on this thread came from the identical IP address as all my posts going back to 1998. I don't know how else to "prove" I have not hijacked DrC's screen name. This line of argument is all a red herring since whether I am a troll or not, my argument can be evaluated on its merits.
As for my original post, I really was trying to make a very simple point--one that you mistakenly inflated all out of proportion into an attack on the marines, America, apple pie and motherhood. The professor made 2 assertions that were "news" to me: my deepest apologies for never having served in the military and not knowing this stuff "first hand." Do I get brownie points for my Dad having attended West Point? In any case, what the video shows is no obvious movement by the victim. Hence, the question on the table was under what circumstances could the shooting be justified? The professor pointed out that "mercy killings" are not allowed. I did not raise this point in my post because it wasn't relevant. I was reacting to a specific poster who, in my estimation (notwithstanding your claim that it is a strawman defense) was actually invoking the "might have done it" defense. And to that poster, I merely reported the second thing I'd learned from the WP professor, namely that such defenses are not allowed. The marine in question has to demonstrate that in his judgment this victim posed an actual as opposed to hypothetical threat to him or the other soldiers present. As I indicated earlier, had the victim reached beneath his blanket--even if it later turned out he had no weapon beneath--that action alone would have justified the shooting. But absent that, my understanding of how the code is applied [COMPLETELY derivative from a WP professor!], "he coulda done this" or "he coulda done that" won't be sufficient to convince a fair-minded military panel against conviction.
Again, this may not be "news" to you or anyone with experience in this area, but since not everyone here has had the benefit of your experience, including the poster who was offering up the "might have done" defense to defend this marine's actions, I thought my post was a reasonable contribution to the discussion.
The underlying premise of my argument was that the military justice system was fair and could indeed be counted upon to ignore inappropriate defenses even if the lawyer defending the marine offered them. That may be naive in the extreme from where you sit, but it's a conclusion I drew from observing how Abu Graib was handled--reasonably swift, no-nonsense justice without any effort to "rally round the marines" who admittedly are in a tough fight over there. The military has high standards of conduct that were upheld at Abu Graib and I expect an equally principled decision in the case of this marine.
If I understand your position correctly, it is literally impossible to expect a conviction of this marine. I, on the other hand, believe the odds favor his conviction but acknowledge the possibility of an acquittal based on evidence not visible on the tape. I'll leave it for readers to decide which is the more defensible position. I personally am quite content to let the investigation play and see which one of us is right in our predictions.