Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Court Martial Conspiracy Take II

Well, I thought it would happen, and it did. The first US Serviceman to be charged with a court martial has pled guilty and received the full punishment to what he was charged with. Clearly, though, he was charged in a manner that did not present a much longer sentence that he could have received if he had the book thrown at him. Why?

Well, I think it's obvious that the army wanted to flip him so that he would testify against the others. But, this person is an interesting choice of people to flip. Apparently, he didn't work in that module where these incidents took place, and he was invited in for one night's worth of incidents. He will testify about those incidents, but apparently he knows nothing about orders from higher up or things of the like.

If you were the Pentagon and wanted to sweep this under the rug, all the while looking like you were vigorously attacking the problem, you would probably act in the following manner: Charge one person who was a percipient witness to the violence depicted in the photos (for which there is irrefutable, and public, proof at this point); have a very public trial of this person where he receives the maximum possible sentence (under very reduced charges in the first place); Use him to throw the book at everyone else, but only related to charges from the night that this one person was a witness, with an understanding that in return for only facing charges related to this one night, they will not point the fingers at specific higher ups, and will not put Pentagon brass on trial for their policies that made these activities the rule, rather than the exception.

Now, maybe I'm wrong, but in listening to reports from this trial, where the defendant admits to conduct on ONE NIGHT ONLY, it suggests that any allegations of other incidents, of policies suggesting this activity, or knowledge of higher-ups, will be brutally supressed in the absence of any physical (ie - photographic) proof to the contrary. Realize this, if pictures had not surfaced of these incidents, the Pentagon would still be stonewalling these allegations like they did to the Red Cross for many months when the Red Cross brought up these allegations prior to photos surfacing. The photos made further blanket denials impossible, now it's time for damage control, they want to keep a lid on this by making it seem as small and isolated as possible.

Who knows, maybe I'm wrong about the strategy, but the previous stonewalling of the Red Cross is clear (after the Red Cross made allegations in November, US officials in Iraq responded by ending drop in visits by the Red Cross - not exactly the mark of innocence on their part). Since the Pentagon's position seems to be everything not on camera is bullshit, I can see how they want to limit all allegations to exactly what's on film, and nothing more.

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