Sunday, November 11, 2007

Culture of death

Carefully dumped into the weekend news cycle by the US military in Iraq --

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley was found not guilty Nov. 8 on three specifications of premeditated murder during a general court martial at the Camp Victory court house.

Hensley, a sniper and the scout platoon sergeant for 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, was on trial for the deaths of three Iraqis during missions that took place April 14 and May 11 in Jurf as Sakhr, and April 27 in Abu Shemsi.

Hensley was found guilty under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for wrongfully placing an AK-47 rifle with the remains of the Iraqi man who died during the May 11 mission. He was also found guilty under UCMJ Article 89 for disrespect to a superior commissioned officer.

Hensley was sentenced to 135 days, a reduction in rank to sergeant and received a letter of reprimand.

These are incidents in which unarmed Iraqis were shot dead even as the US troops apparently had time to determine who they were. And in which weapons were planted on them to make them look like insurgents -- whether the weapons were in fact "bait" remains a matter of dispute.

One hopes that letter of reprimand doesn't dog Hensley's future career.

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