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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Is the 101st collapsing?

Murder Charges for 3 G.I.'s in Iraq

Published: June 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 19 — Three American soldiers suspected of killing three detainees in Iraq and then threatening a soldier with death if he reported the shootings have been charged with premeditated murder and obstructing justice, Army officials said Monday.

A noncommissioned officer, also face charges of attempted murder, conspiracy and threatening in connection with the deaths of the three detainees on May 9, the Army's documents showed.

One Defense Department official said investigators had evidence that the soldiers had released the detainees deliberately before they were shot, apparently to have a pretext for killing them as they fled.

In Iraq on Monday, an Islamic militant group linked to Al Qaeda said it had captured two American soldiers listed as missing, but it offered no proof, and American military officials remained skeptical. The two soldiers disappeared Friday night in an ambush southwest of Baghdad, and the military has organized a force of 8,000 American and Iraqi troops to find them.

The three soldiers charged by the Army were identified as Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Specialist William B. Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey R. Clagett. A conviction of murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice can carry the death penalty. A conviction of attempted murder carries a maximum punishment of life in prison, as does a conviction of conspiracy. A conviction for wrongfully communicating a threat carries a maximum term of five years.

The victims remained unidentified and were listed on the charge sheets only as male detainees apparently of Middle Eastern descent.

The three soldiers, assigned to the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, were jailed in Kuwait last Thursday to await hearings to determine whether they would face courts-martial, officials said.

The charge sheets list a number of instances in which the suspects are said to have threatened another soldier with death if he assisted investigators. The charge sheets quote the suspects as saying to the soldier, a private first class, " 'I will kill you if you tell anyone,' or words to that effect," and " 'You better not talk or I will kill you,' or words to that effect."

Military officials said over the weekend that the allegation of wrongdoing was raised by an enlisted soldier. Military officials said the soldiers suspected in the killings initially asserted that the three detainees had died as they were trying to escape.

Between this and the capture of the two soldiers, you have to wonder how this could happen in a unit like the 101st. In 2003, it was regard as an excellent unit. Now, you have potential murder case, and the inexplicable ambush and capture of two members of the 101.

Could it be that the army is starting to fall apart in front of our eyes. Yes, people make mistakes, but murder and intimidation aren't mistakes, leaving three men behind is. The kind of mistake tired, stressed people make.

posted by Steve @ 2:09:00 AM

2:09:00 AM

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