Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rushing to Judgment - Accusing Soldiers of Murder

I recently wrote here on the rush to judgment by the Iraqi Justice Minister and other Iraqis who wish to pronounce U.S. soldiers charged with crimes guilty and to be punished well before their day in court.
Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal addresses this issue in the context of the media and people in Congress such as John Murtha (D-PA) who has actually compared allegations to Vietnam's My Lai incident, which isn't comparable at all.
The innocence or guilt of the individual soldiers implicated in Haditha or the other alleged abuse incidents is a lower-order concern to those fighting a PR war for the hearts and minds of the American people on Iraq. In the first effusion of media coverage of these events, the impression is weighted toward assuming guilt, and so when the pollsters call to ask about support for the war, the numbers fall. Mission accomplished -- unless a Gen. Pace can jump quickly enough on the other side of the public-impression teeter-totter, writes Henninger.
Mr. [Ilario] Pantano, who left a successful job in New York City to reenlist in the Marines, was brought up on charges in 2004 of shooting two Iraqi prisoners in the back while serving as a lieutenant in al Anbar province. A year later -- after the military's investigation, defense discovery and a military trial -- the charges against him were dropped. His accusers were discredited at trial. The absorbing details of the case's passage through the U.S. military-justice system are described in Mr. Pantano's just-published memoir, "Warlord."
2nd Lt Pantano's chaplain in Iraq in 2004 writes:
Our military, and certain intelligence assets are at war, but we have not yet become a nation - a people - at war. To the extent people read and really pay attention to what 2nd Lt Pantano is saying, this is a step in the right direction. I am still afraid that it will take another attack on US soil to drive the point home that we are in a war with a determined enemy, though I certainly hope not. If that happens, I pray it puts steel in the American spine and inspires a remorseless pursuit of victory in our people, because, as I have said before, this war will not be won until we do to our enemy what Sherman did to Georgia.
The legal beagles, euro-weenies, and hyper-sensitive won't like that, but it is so. War is force - disciplined violence with the intention of breaking the enemy's will or killing him. We can win their friendship after the war. Until that time, we must face the facts. Our enemy will not permit a truce (a la Korea). We cannot afford a defeat (a la VietNam). And one cannot achieve victory with half-measures. The sooner our enemy fears us, the sooner we will win - and the fewer people (on both sides) who will die in the process.
Phil Stackhouse, who was one of the military lawyers assigned to Mr. Pantano's defense, and now working as a civilian on behalf of accused soldiers states, "When a John Murtha starts screaming 'cold-blooded murder,' the press will pick up on that and it is that much tougher for the civilian defense attorney to counter the public's impression."

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