Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Rare Conviction

A US army sergeant has been convicted of murdering unarmed civilians and cutting fingers from their corpses as ringleader of a rogue platoon in Afghanistan's south.

But the jury at a court-martial hearing on Thursday decided against the automatic life sentence for Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, 26, saying he would be eligible for parole after serving eight and a half years.


The verdict and sentence marked the culmination of an 18-month investigation of the most egregious atrocities that US military personnel have been convicted of committing during a decade of war in Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials have said the misconduct exposed by the case, which evolved from an investigation of drug abuse within Gibbs' Stryker Brigade infantry unit, damaged the US image around the globe.



While indeed egregious, I hope we haven’t forgotten Abu Ghraib and other prisons. Of course, not too many have been convicted of any atrocities. It’s interesting to note that this case of “misconduct” (!) would likely not have even been pursued (or perhaps even reported) had it not been for a drug abuse investigation.

But really, “Pentagon officials,” you think this case damaged the US image around the globe? I’m pretty sure that would be a difficult feat to accomplish, the image being what it is.

His civilian lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse, asked the panel for leniency in its parole decision, saying Gibbs had ample time for reflection during his pre-trial confinement and "is not the same person he was when he went to Afghanistan".

Oh my dear. He had to be punished in addition to having reflected? The horror. Although, actually, the lawyer doesn’t actually say he even reflected, just that he had “ample” time to.

He said his client wished for the chance to be reunited with his young son at some point in the future.

How ironic. Of course, the men he murdered probably didn’t have any family.

Major Dre Leblanc, a military prosecutor, argued against parole, reminding the panel that Gibbs had often said of the Afghan people he terrorised: "These people are all savages, look at how they live."


Testifying in his own defence last Friday, Gibbs said he had "disassociated" himself from his actions while in combat and likened the removal of fingers from dead bodies to the taking of antlers from a deer.


Besides charges of murder, conspiracy and other offenses, he was found guilty of beating a soldier who reported hashish use to superiors and of military code violations for cutting fingers off bodies as war trophies.

War is hell.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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