Cert petition: right of a soldier to self-defense in combat zone
Petition here. We're getting to where we may have to field armies of lawyers. They'll do little good in combat, but will be able to comply with legal standards while being defeated. Petitioner is a platoon leader, appealing a court martial. His platoon was hit with an IED, suffered two KIAs.
He questioned a suspect, holding a gun on him, and finally threatening him. He testified that when he looked aside, the suspect threw a rock at him and rose up, reaching for his gun. This was disputed; the translator said the first shot was fired while the suspect was "semi-seated." Forensic experts said, however, that the first shot was fired when the suspect was either standing or nearly standing.
Disputed facts, but the court martial ruled that he had no right of self-defense, since he initiated things by pointing a gun at the suspect and threatening him. Thus, even if his story was true he was still guilty. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years.
Here's the government's opposition. It points out that he also stripped the suspect prior to questioning him, and that the translator said he said he killed the suspect because he was involved in several bombings.
I don't understand why, but it seems like more and more in this country, we're trying to get soldiers to act more like police officers and to get police officers to act more like soldiers.
I'm not saying the soldier may not have done wrong. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. But it's a war zone. Pretty soon, each unit will have an embedded lawyer who will direct everyone when it's OK to kill the enemy.
We send these guys over there for years at a time where there could be an IED laying anywhere or any person in a crowd could be waiting to kill them. We tie one hand behind their backs and before long we're going to have them Mirandizing people. It's little wonder that so many are coming home with no physical wounds and yet suffering the serious mental scars nonetheless.
Soldiers are not cops. Their job is not justice, their job is to win. I recognize that there are limits to that, but those limits seem to be growing significantly as time goes on.
Posted by: Mike Gray at May 14, 2013 01:01 PM
Agree with the comment above; we absolutely need to be distinct about the differences between how the military operates (abroad) and how police forces operate domestically. To confuse the two in any way is a sure prescription for disaster.
Posted by: Barbara Grant at May 16, 2013 04:36 PM
In my war we were rewarded for killing the enemy not prosecuted.
Posted by: Jim K at May 17, 2013 02:18 PM