Few real details have emerged in the tragic killing of 16 Afghan civilians by a member of the U.S. army. What we do know is that he has lawyered up and that the attorney, John Henry Browne immediately went on TV to begin pleading his case. That shouldn't be any surprise, because that is what high profile guys do and this will be as high of a profile case as it can get.
The G.I. remains unidentified for security reasons and is apparently en route to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. The New York Times reported he was initially moved to a detention center in Kuwait. When the Kuwaitis found out about his presence on their soil they went berserk and demanded he be removed immediately. That should also come as no surprise. The spectre of large scale rioting every where in the region looms like a huge blood red sun on the horizon.
Browne, who previously defended serial killer, Ted Bundy appeared with Matt Lauer and clearly indicated that the primary defense would be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Browne claimed that after a third tour in Iraq the soldier had been in training to become a military recruiter, but was shipped off to Afghanistan practically over night. He said the defense will focus on "how we treat G.I.s and whether we should have been there in the first place." In other words he is going to put the war on trial.
Among other things Browne said that the soldier had suffered a concussive head injury and lost part of a foot in Iraq. That he was screened for PTSD and while he had been cleared, the testing was minimal. He told the AP that the day before the massacre the accused had seen a friend get his leg blown off. He said rumors of marital problems were "absolutely untrue and offensive," but then he claimed that stress, alcohol, and cryptically, "domestic issues" were all contributing factors.
What he didn't say is that the guy didn't do it.
Meanwhile Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan is raging that the U.S. has not cooperated with the Afghans during the investigation. He has questioned darkly whether only one person was capable of the atrocity, playing to some witnesses who claim at least one other G.I. was involved. He also wants U.S. personnel removed from all villages and confined to major bases in the country.
This rumor of a second killer is going to gain legs with the locals. In their minds the entire U.S. military is at fault, therefore there must have been more than one person perpetrating the crime. Conspiracy theories are being hatched as I type. Before it is over there will be some in Afghanistan who believe it the whole thing was personally ordered by Barak Obama and an entire brigade was involved.
Browne can rant all he wants about PTSD and successive tours and the carnage of war, but quite honestly there is no way this guy is going to walk, or even end up in some mental institution. No, the very best he can hope for is life and even that verdict will set off riots across Afghanistan. Those people want blood and they want it now. The subtleties of the American justice system, even the military variety, are lost on them. An insanity plea will be just another bull shit excuse. God only knows what the depths of their outrage will be if a verdict of innocent by reason of mental defect, or whatever the army calls it, comes in.
At this point there seems there is nothing we can do right over there. They are tired of us and obviously at least a tiny portion of the U.S. contingent is tired of putting up with them. This atrocity is the latest and deadliest in a series of increasingly foul and stupid acts committed by American troops.
No, it is only going to get worse and it has to end as quickly as possible. Screw the time tables and carefully laid plans.
Someone, preferably the president of the United States, has to stand up and yell, "Olly olly ox in free."
Then everybody gets to come home and we can have a parade.