Monday, July 03, 2006

Breaking: U.S. Soldier Charged In Mahmudiyah Case

The AP is reporting that a discharged U.S. soldier, Steven D. Green, has been arrested on charges relating to the crimes in Mahmudiyah:

Prosecutors said Green and others entered the home of a family of Iraqi civilians, where he and others raped the woman before Green shot her and her relatives. According to an accompanying affidavit, photos taken by Army investigators showed a burned body of "what appears to be a woman with blankets thrown over her upper torso."

The number of conspirators now stands at "up to five." Green had been discharged from the Army prior to the investigation due to a "personality disorder."
The affidavit, filed by FBI special agent Gregor Ahlers, said Green and three other soldiers from the 101st's 502nd Infantry Regiment were working a traffic checkpoint in Mahmoudiya on March 12 when they conspired to rape a woman who lived nearby.

According to the affidavit's account, the soldiers changed their clothes before going to the woman's residence to avoid detection. Once there, the affidavit said, Green took three members of the family into a bedroom, after which shots were heard from inside.

"Green came to the bedroom door and told everyone, 'I just killed them. All are dead,'" the affidavit said.

The affidavit is based on interviews conducted by the FBI and investigators at Fort Campbell with three unidentified soldiers assigned to Green’s platoon. One of the soldiers said he witnessed another soldier and Green rape the woman.

"After the rape, (the soldier) witnessed Green shoot the woman in the head two to three times," the affidavit said.

Though the evidence appears overwhelming, I hasten to point out that in all cases, a criminal affadavit is written so that the guilt of those charged seems utterly irrefutable. The investigation will continue.

Those responsible for bringing this case forward are those in the military and now the FBI who have worked diligently within structure of military justice. Reporters repeating the contents of press releases, affadavits, and possibly jihadi web sites, have done little service at all. It is important to continue to follow the actions of the military and FBI in this case and to question the sensationalistic reporting of the mainstream media.

Remember, while it is soldiers who are charged, it was soldiers who reported the crime, soldiers who investigated the crime, and soldiers who will try the case. It should also be recognized that the military made efforts to investigate the incident on the date that it occurred, but were foiled by the family's shame at the rape and their desire to hide from that crime. Out of deference to those who serve, we ought to redouble efforts to protect the right of these soldiers to be considered innocent until proven guilty. The military has given no sign that they are unwilling or unable to punish their own for horrible crimes such as this, and I have no doubt these soldiers will be tried fairly and expeditiously. I have no faith in the press to report the case honestly.

As promised, for each Mahmudiyah post I will include a story of military honor. Here's the story for this post:
President presents Medal of Honor to family of 3ID Soldier
By Eric W Cramer

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Army News Service, April 4, 2005) -- An American Soldier's family received the highest military recognition, the first Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom, from President George W. Bush in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

Bush presented the Medal of Honor to David Smith, the 11-year-old son of Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who was killed April 4, 2003, exactly two years ago, in an action outside the then-Saddam Hussein International Airport.

Smith manned the .50-caliber machine gun on top of an armored personnel carrier in order to defend a courtyard while his men from the 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, withdrew and evacuated wounded. Late in the action, he died after being struck by enemy fire.

The president quoted a letter Smith wrote to his parents, but never mailed, saying he was willing to "give all that I am" so that his men would return home.

"On this day two years ago, Sergeant Smith gave his all for his men. Five days later, Baghdad fell, and the Iraqi people were liberated," Bush said. "And today, we bestow upon Sergeant Smith the first Medal of Honor in the war on terror. He's also the first to be awarded this new Medal of Honor flag, authorized by the United States Congress. We count ourselves blessed to have soldiers like Sergeant Smith, who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of freedom and protect the American people."

Bush said Smith’s story was that of “a boy transformed into a man and a leader."

"His friends and family will tell you that he joined the Army in 1989, after finishing high school. When he joined the Army, he was a typical young American. He liked sports, he liked fast cars, and he liked to stay out late with his friends -- pursuits that occasionally earned him what the Army calls 'extra duty.' -- Scrubbing floors."

The president said Smith underwent two life-changing experiences.

Bush said the first experience was meeting his wife Birgit while he was stationed in Germany.

"Second great change in Paul's life would come when he shipped off to Saudi Arabia to fight in the first Gulf War. There the young combat engineer learned that his training had a purpose and could save lives on the battlefield. Paul returned from that war determined that other Soldiers would benefit from the lessons he had learned."

"Paul earned his sergeant's stripes and became known as a stickler for detail. Sergeant Smith's seriousness wasn't always appreciated by the greener troops under his direction," Bush said. "Those greener troops oftentimes found themselves to do tasks over and over again, until they got it right. Specialist Michael Seaman, who is with us today, says, 'He was hard in training because he knew we had to be hard in battle.' Specialist Seaman will also tell you that he and others are alive today because of Sergeant Smith's discipline"

Bush described the action in which Smith died while manning a .50-caliber machinegun defending his troops in a compound near the Baghdad Airport.

"Sergeant Smith's leadership saved the men in the courtyard, and he prevented an enemy attack on the aid station just up the road," the president said. "Sergeant Smith continued to fire until he took a fatal round to the head. His actions in that courtyard saved the lives of more than 100 American soldiers."

"Like every one of the men and women in uniform who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sergeant Paul Smith was a volunteer. We thank his family for the father, husband and son and brother who can never be replaced," the president said.

"We recall with appreciation the fellow soldiers whose lives he saved, and the many more he inspired," Bush said. "And we express our gratitude for a new generation of Americans, every bit as selfless and dedicated to liberty as any that has gone on before -- a dedication exemplified by the sacrifice and valor of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith."

The president also thanked the living Medal of Honor recipients who attended the ceremony: John Baker, Barney Barnum, Bernie Fisher, Al Rascon and Brian Thacker.

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