Monday, May 10, 2004

Court Martial Conspiracy?

I am not a conspiracy believer, but I have my thoughts about this court martial about to take place in Baghdad later this month.

First of all, one news report I heard suggested that the immediacy of the court martial that is about to take place suggests a deal may have taken place even before the court martial begins, and he may cooperate against other suspects. I wasn't sure, since I'm no expert on military law (by any stretch of the imagination), but consider this. The soldier involved is being charged with a series of offenses that only carry a one year maximum sentence, pretty small-time for the offenses alleged (I mean, here in California, you can get 25 to life for possession of a little rock of cocaine or passing a bad check). Furthermore, army personnel face longer sentences for things like sodomy, or audultry. How could dishonering the US, violating the Geneva Conventions, assaulting and possibly helping to murder prisoners of war, and damaging our credibility throughout the world be worth at most a year in jail?

Well, here's how. I'm guessing that they are going to have this one trial as a show trial, to show the world that they are serious about stopping this stuff. They will have it quickly and openly, which will tell the world that we are busting these guy's heads. But, we are only doing it to this one person, who is in effect turning state's evidence and would have received whatever sentence he's going to receive anyways, meaning, a plea bargain. In return, he gives a huge mea culpa in front of the trial, on a world stage in front of all Arab media, and then they have all of the rest of the trials in private. This way, they can do everything else the way they would've anyways, but have one person fall on his sword for the whole enterprise.

It is actually a shrewd idea, since it allows us to bring someone's head out on a platter to the assembled foreign media immediately (some head, one year maximum???), while shielding the rest of the trials from the scrutiny that this trial will have. If it works, ingenious. If not, it could be disasterous. Look, though, to have this soldier, while implicating himself and others, to shy away from every saying anything aloud that goes higher than local mid-level commanders. Anything that goes too high gets uncomfortably close to the commander in chief, and we can't have him responsible for anything, can we?

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