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Seizing a good opportunity to shut up

There's an online petition here where people can express their support for the US Marine who was videotaped shooting a wounded insurgent in Fallujah. At last count, it's just shy of 250,000 names of people who think the Marine in question, who has been removed from combat pending an investigation, should either be returned to his unit or honorably discharged.

I'm not going to sign it, and I'd recommend others not, either. The whole action is aimed at Congress, and to me that smacks of interfering. There's an old joke that "military justice" is to real justice as "military music" is to real music, but the military actually has a pretty good record of late in dealing with allegations of misconduct in the ranks. They've convicted several of the perpetrators of the Abu Ghraib idiocy, and the Muslim Green Beret who killed his superiors is looking to get either life or death. They apparently did screw up the case of Captain Yee, who was accused of helping detainees in Guantanamo, but overall I think they've done well enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Besides, the integrity of the system is vitally important. We have to show the world and ourselves that no one is above the law, and we need to spell out exactly what this Marine did and why (in my opinion, along with many others) it was not only acceptable, but laudable. But we shouldn't toss out the system before it has a chance to do the right thing on its own.



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Comments (28)

I saw that petition yesterd... (Below threshold)

I saw that petition yesterday, didn't sign it but I understand why people are signing it...I hope that those who sign that petition, including those who don't, however, will write their legislators and express their opinions.

I don't know if anyone or e... (Below threshold)

I don't know if anyone or everyone is saying this, but THANK GOD our troops aren't beholden to the curtain-wearing, pacifist, post-Christian Hague.

If America and America's military apparatus is in the minority for knowing what war entails, so be it.

Like many painful things, like shooting people, war is necessary. The Tribunal, at least, knows this.

God bless them.

Good on you Jay Tea...a pet... (Below threshold)

Good on you Jay Tea...a petition on the issue is rubbish. There are only a handful of individuals qualified to make the call on this issue, and they are all within the military...having a much better idea of protocol, combat, and the overall circumstances of that day. International Law is obsolete when you are dealing with a new battlefield that involves a moral, ethical and legal asymmetry between regular soldiers who abide by the laws of war and terrorists who have no constraints.

"We must not, and need not, give recognition and protection to terrorist groups as a price for progress in humanitarian law."---Ronald Reagan

Sorry but lost confidenct i... (Below threshold)

Sorry but lost confidenct in Department of Defense when they buckled to ACLU pressure regarding our Boy Scouts. I signed and want to get their attention that we concerned and watching. Help starts from the bottom up and this marine needs our support. God knows NBC gave none. Our efforts to express our support for this marine and our military does not stop at signing a petition - we need to contact our elected representatives as well. God bless America.

Jay this is one of those ra... (Below threshold)

Jay this is one of those rare instances where the I before E except after C or when it sounds like A (weigh, reign) doesn't apply. Its SEIZING. Just thought you'd want to know
singed- teh spelign Nahtsi

Gee, thanks doc. My bad. ... (Below threshold)

Gee, thanks doc. My bad. (have fun)

1. It takes a special sort ... (Below threshold)

1. It takes a special sort of jerk to deal out a snobbish grammar lesson for a typo in the public comments section of a blog.

2. "Docweasel" stalked my site with spam for about two weeks, incessantly link dropping out of sheer harrassment after I told him to stop. BAN HIM Jay Tea.

Otherwise, this is a great post. I wrote a similar sentiment last week; we need to wait and see what pans out before jumping the gun about facts we do not know.

That‘s just the way the law... (Below threshold)

That‘s just the way the law ought to be. There are many grey areas in decision making. The law should always be on the white side of that grey area. When someone strays into that grey, then the circumstances and actions should be examined by the legal system. If it is justified, a dismissal of the charges follows.
This might sounda little harsh, but it is only by examining, after the event, and threatening punishment to those who go too far (and, of course, not guilty verdicts for those who do not) the entire situation that we stop ourselves from allowing the grey areas, over time, sto become white areas, and the whole thing moves another few feet down that slippery slope.

How can one decide if a par... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

How can one decide if a party is guilty or innocent without having all the evidence? How can one impeach the military justice system without giving it a chance to work. Both the Yee and BSA situations show what happens when the military is subjected to outside political influence instead of being allowed to follow its rules; particularly in the later, far more so than the former.

I will not (now) express an... (Below threshold)
John "Akatsukami" Braue:

I will not (now) express an opinion defending or condemning this Marine, but I will remind the readership that on-line petitions are worse than useless: they provide politicians with a list of people who will never, ever, do anything more onerous than click a mouse button to express their views.

I'm with JC. Military justi... (Below threshold)

I'm with JC. Military justice is not going to be influenced by an online petition. However, signing the petition is a show of support for our soldiers. Even if this Marine violated the rules (and I don't believe he has), the situation is so heavily mitgated, he deserves our support no matter what.

Thanks, Jay. It's nice to f... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Jay. It's nice to find the cooler heads in the blogosphere.

I find agreement with your ... (Below threshold)

I find agreement with your basic premise of waiting until "all the facts are in," but one point left unmentioned so far is that the only reason he was taken out was that his actions were on film. I can guarantee you that if the incident had been debriefed after the mission he would have received a thoughtful pat on the back, maybe a trip to the chaplain or shrink, and sent back to work.

The only reason he is out of action is the Army's sensitivity to world and public opinion. So I see no bad in folks expressing their opinion to Congress (and hopefully the President, the Commander in Chief) on this issue.

Offering opinions like those in the petition also may help our troops feel the support that MSM and FAG (oops I mean SAG) don't offer our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, even grandmothers and grandfathers overseas.

Chew on that JT.

Yes ...julie....I too signe... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

Yes ...julie....I too signed the petition as a show of support for the marine and the others making snap decisions to a save their own lives as well as their fellows. I have no delusions as to whether or not an online petition will have any effect on the outcome of the investigation. But the whole world needs to know how many Americans really do support our troops. Because in the military you are guilty until proven innocent. I've heard enough about the mitigating circumstance surrounding this individuals decision to shoot that I'm convinced he is not a pillaging, marauding criminal and is deserving of the benefit of our doubt. Besides, the guy he shot is wounded in civilian clothing in a mosque which suggests that he was using the mosque as a staging area for his ambush. I believe this precludes him from the niceties of the Geneva convention rules of engagement.

I don't object to an investigation. But once the investigation does indeed confirm that dead man in question was wounded while firing from a mosque then the case is closed in favor of our soldier.

If you disagree w the drive... (Below threshold)
Capt Ramón Báez USN Ret:

If you disagree w the drive, why bother advertising it?

The petition may not have a... (Below threshold)

The petition may not have any effect on Congress (just a simple non-binding Congressional Declaration of support for our troops would be good), but on its own, the numbers of signatures and the contents of the comments have value as a show of support for the one maligned Marine as well as ALL the troops, which was I think the actual intended target of the NBC reporter and MSM (tactic: smear one unknown Marine, thereby smearing and undermining the whole military; thus making the American population uneasy about the integrity of the military as a whole).

The petition also seems to be a way for civilians and troops themselves to vent their frustration about the media's eagerness to attack the troops before the facts are known. I understand the military was already well underway with its investigation of the Abu Ghraib incidents by the time CBS published the photos. The media couldn't wait for the results and pretended it was their expose that caused the prosecutions - not so.

One last point in support of the petition - it seemed to me there were comments by current military personnel from Iraq, not only stateside vets and civilians. So it is possible that our soldiers in Iraq are also reading the petition comments and my feel a justified morale boost in seeing the support from us at home. During Vietnam there was no blogging, not enough spontaneous, audible public counter to the likes of Dan Rather, Kerry and Fonda trashing our soldiers. So I feel, every bit of public support is good in whatever form.

Good point, BR. With the le... (Below threshold)

Good point, BR. With the left constantly bombarding the American people, it doesn't hurt to show support for a marine who comes under attack by the MSM and the looney toon Liberals.

J-I have to disagr... (Below threshold)


I have to disagree with you on this all the way. Even though it has become political does not mean we should not support our soldier and so should you.

Can I add a little rant here myself? First off, a good insurgent or a good terrorist is a dead one. I've seen that same parallel other places, too. (other wars) You see, the enemy can pretend but still have the ability to shoot and shoot the marine dead in his tracks and I am sick and tired of this guy making so much off one guy's death whose probably killed thousands. If I was that marine, I would have done the same thing. Now I believe that marine did his duty and his duty is a lot harder than our duty-we are not there but he is and it comes down to two things in the heat of battle; it's either them or us. Let it be them. Look at what these people or excuse of a people have done to their own people daily? The marine should be proud and should stay with his unit, given a medal for courage under fire and free beer if he should ever travel the states after the war. I'd shake his hand and I would hope others would do so as well.
If I was that marine, I would have done the same thing; now can we get off the subject?
they do read us, you know?

Even Vladamir Putin said that the media was our enemy after the Beslam incident. Are people going to call that massacre "beslamgate?"


I SIGNED THAT PETITION IN S... (Below threshold)


SUPPORT OUR SOLDIERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm with Jay. While the mai... (Below threshold)
American Soldier's Mom:

I'm with Jay. While the mainstream media has long forgotten the shooting by the Marine in Fallujah... well intentioned (I'm sure) conservatives are keeping this story alive. Move on. This is not Abu Ghraib, and the media doesn't seem to have the desire to make us go through that again.

Shame on you, "Mom." The N... (Below threshold)

Shame on you, "Mom." The NBC reporter did his dirty work and now his poison is spreading worldwide. BBC and Al Jazeera are still running with it as of Nov 26th - and that's just in my first glance of the 283,000 items that came up in Google.

BR - Sites was doing his jo... (Below threshold)
American Soldier's Mom:

BR - Sites was doing his job, nothing more and nothing less.

It is indeed unfortunate that BBC is still running with the story...when I said "mainstream media", unfortunately, I was unclear and didn't specify American mainstream media. And as for Al Jazeera, I hardly think that a video of a marine shooting a wounded man is going to make the Arab world think any worse of our military. We haven't quite been getting "fair and balanced" treatment all along.

On the other hand, I've seen attempts at mea culpas from Chris Matthews (not that I'm a fan by any means) and even on Sites' blog.

This is one thing I know...I know how the reaction in the American mainstream media, with its front page stories on Abu Ghraib for nearly two months directly affected the safety of my soldier son. I also know that it is mostly conservatives that are keeping the case of the marine shooting incident in the forefront here. We can't do much about the BBC or Al Jazeera, but we can let this story go ourselves.

While the mainstream med... (Below threshold)

While the mainstream media has long forgotten the shooting by the Marine in Fallujah...

Oh, really? I guess you don't consider the LAT the main stream media because today there was a nice big op-ed piece by Sites.

And Chris Matthews couldn't even begin to back pedal for the number of times he has stuck his foot in his mouth on this issue alone. Any half-assed mea culpas on his part were strictly the result of angry viewers calling for his big papier-mache head.

NBC reporter Kevin ... (Below threshold)

NBC reporter Kevin Sites went WAY BEYOND the bounds of a reporter when he inserted himself in the chain of command with his off-line orders to the Marines. It is NOT the duty of a Marine to take orders from or apologize to a reporter - especially not in the heat of battle! He and any reporter acting like him endangers the Marines with such unauthorized interference.

Following are quotes from www.kevinsites.net, the reporter's own blogsite, here.

"When the smoke clears, I can see through my viewfinder that the fire is burning beside a large pile of anti-aircraft rounds. I yell to the lieutenant that we need to move."

Who the hell does he think he is giving orders to the Marines!!!

"I look closely at both the dead and the wounded. There don't appear to be any weapons anywhere. 'These were the same wounded from yesterday,' I say to the lieutenant.

How dare he insert his opinion as a reporter! He is putting the Marines at risk, distracting their attention with possible false observations.

"At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, 'I didn't know sir-I didn't know.' The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread."

This is un-f*ing-believable that a Marine should be apologizing to a reporter!! I almost can't believe it. Who knows if Kevin Sites made that up or not.

Further analysis of Kevin Sites' Open Letter to the Marines about the incident, in an article at hundredpercenter.blogspot.com dated 11/22/04 entitled "Kevin Sites Making Matters Worse - Again" here.

Last night I sent an e-mail... (Below threshold)

Last night I sent an e-mail to the originator of the petition, Alan Swinney, to thank him. Here is his reply, just received:

"Thanks for helping get the word out. I know that the troops are reading it. I get letters from them all the time.
Alan Swinney
Please read this whole email. It is that last one that I will be sending.
This marine is going to need our help. I have received a couple of emails from his family members and they don't sound good. You can read them in this group Defend our Troops http://groups.msn.com/defendourtroops link. Please join this group!! I need help!! It is especially important to join this group if you are willing to contribute to a defense fund. I will be able to contact you more easily through the community. It has been very difficult for me to send one email at a time. I will reply to messages in the group. It is not possible for me to even read all the messages in my email anymore."

BR, I said to myself that I... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

BR, I said to myself that I wouldn't get into the details of this case until the military got it sorted out, but I gotta call you on one example you cited to criticize Sites.

"When the smoke clears, I can see through my viewfinder that the fire is burning beside a large pile of anti-aircraft rounds. I yell to the lieutenant that we need to move."

Who the hell does he think he is giving orders to the Marines!!!

The guy sees through his (presumably zoom-capable) viewfinder that there's a FIRE next to a BIG pile of things that go BOOM. He'd have to be seventeen different types of idiot to NOT call the Lieutenant's attention to it! Hell, he'd be denounced (and rightfully so) if he DIDN'T say anything, especially if any of those rounds cooked off and killed or wounded any of the Marines he was with! Had he kept silent, I'd be calling for his head, and I don't think I'd be alone.

And to Capt. Ramon Baez (USN RET) -- first, my thanks for your service. Second, to answer you, I posted the link to the petition because I know and respect a lot of people will disagree with me, and wanted to give them the opportunity to do so. My heart is with those who disagree with me, but my head says it's premature to take action.


Jim,ah, PTUEY!... (Below threshold)


ah, PTUEY!


Worth reading: <a href="htt... (Below threshold)

Worth reading: The stories you don't hear... (a first-hand report of this Falluja incident by LCPL Schmidt, USMC).






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