Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tale of Two Crimes

Unless you have been in a coma or perhaps hiding out in the Space Station, you have certainly heard about the murder of four police officers in Lakewood, WA. Executed is more like it. They were all sitting in a booth having morning coffee before their shift when a dirt bag by the name of Maurice Clemmons walked in and shot them all. One officer managed to get off a round hitting Clemmons in the gut before he himself was killed.

A massive manhunt began and I told my wife as we watched the TV coverage, “This asshole is never going to see the inside of a courtroom.” Sure enough, 48 hours later a cop recognized Clemmons and gunned him down. The carefully worded statements suggested that, yes Clemmons did have a gun, but that he was nowhere near it when the officer shot his sorry ass. The overwhelming public sentiment was “good riddance”. Debate then shifted to apportioning blame for whether Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas or the judge in Seattle should be held responsible for letting this guy run loose given his repeated convictions and penchant for violence. The question of whether the cop had gunned down an unarmed man never came up and nobody really cared.

About the same time another news story popped up, but on this one you would really need to be alert since none of the major networks except FOX gave it any coverage. The news: three Navy SEALs are going to be court marshaled in January for the crime of “abusing” a terrorist.

Perhaps you remember back in 2004 four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, Iraq were captured by the Al Queda in Iraq insurgents. They were executed, mutilated, dragged through the streets, burned and hung from a bridge over the Tigris River. After years of searching, the ringleader of the group, Ahmend Hashim Abed, was located and captured by three SEALs: Matt McCabe SO2, Jon Keefe SO1 and Julio Huerta SO1. During the course of the arrest Abed reportedly received a fat lip (some reports say he was punched in the stomach). This incident got reported and the Navy decided to charge the SEALs with prisoner abuse.

The “SEAL Net”, a loose collection of email networks tying together ex-Navy SEALs, suggests that the charges of abuse came from the military police who took charge of Abed when the SEALs turned him over. It is also widely known that the terrorists are well aware of our penchant for political correctness and frequently bash themselves or attempt fruitless escapes so that they can claim abuse. They know how to game the system. And, of course, there is an endless supply of ambulance chasers more than willing to take the cases of these poor abused terrorists.

The three SEALs faced a disciplinary procedure known as Captain’s Mast or what is called Non-Judicial Punishment, a practice that harkens back to the days of sailing ships long away from their homeport. Captain’s Mast in no way resembles a court of law, the captain of a ship at sea being the closest thing to a god. The skipper hears the charges and the explanation from the accused and makes a decision on the spot on guilt and the appropriate punishment. The three SEALs in this situation were assured of receiving a career-ending letter of reprimand in their service files. As is their right, they opted instead for a full-fledged court marshal with the upside of being found innocent of the charges. They gamble, however, that if found guilty they might spend some hard time in the brig and receive a dishonorable discharge.

A serviceman has the option of hiring a civilian defense attorney to represent them in a court marshal and all three SEALs have done so. Obviously, these guys are not rich and defending themselves will not come cheap. The good news: there will be plenty of people, including most of the ex-SEAL community who will be willing to contribute to the fund for the defense.

The cop who emptied his gun into the unarmed murder Clemmons gets a pass from a grateful community. I’m fine with that. I am not fine with prosecuting three guys who capture a dangerous, vicious terrorist. They should be regarded as heroes, not criminals. Something is seriously out of whack here.

1 comment:

Heide said...

I agree.
Found a Christmas light display on-line that made me think of you and my dad.