A front page story in Wednesday’s Seattle Times details the prosecution of American soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians earlier this year.
Billings, Montana native Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs is one of five soldiers currently detained and facing prosecution for the allegations.
The soldiers allegedly killed the three Afghans while out on patrol, and anyone who dared to report the events was threatened with violence, according to statements made to investigators.
All five soldiers are awaiting court-martial proceedings. If convicted, they face the possibility of life imprisonment or death.
The latest Times article also gives us our first insight from the perspective of defense attorneys, who point out that the soldier making the murder allegations against Gibbs and the others was under the influence of a wide mix of drugs during the time he gave his statement. The allegations seem to rest on the credibility of Spc. Jeremy Morlock, whose own attorney now appears to be fighting for a withdrawal of his previous statement.
Waddington, Morlock’s attorney, said his client’s statements were made under the influence of drugs. Morlock had a brutal year in Afghanistan, where he was exposed to four separate explosions that caused traumatic brain injury, the attorney said.
To help him remain in Afghanistan, he was prescribed a cornucopia of legal prescription drugs that included anti-depressants, muscle relaxers and a sleep drug frequently used by soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Waddington said.
In May, Army medical staff decided to evacuate Morlock due to his head injuries. Shortly before his departure, investigators started questioning him about the civilian killings.
It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. We certainly have seen unfair prosecutions of our soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, only time will tell whether that is happening in this case as well.
One thing we can do in the meantime, is keep the families of all these soldiers in your thoughts and prayers. The soldiers in this unit suffered a lot of casualties in southern Afghanistan. Some families now have their soldiers back home as they have returned from the deployment. Other families will never see their lost loved ones again. But for these families, the restless nights they endured while their sons were deployed in a warzone will only continue, as they worry about the fate of their sons- now behind bars.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 4:25 PM
My hope and prayers also go out to these Soldiers. But, I would like to reinforce one of Mark’s points. Yes, one soldier, named John Kerry, made false accusations against our brave Troops decades ago, not to protect civilians, but for personal gain. ANd the uniformed public rewarded Senator John Kerry’s unethical and harmful statements by making him a professional politician. Yes, we all need to protect the innocent by being informed! And unfortunately, justice is frequently denied to our Troops in the name of “political correctness”. I would recommend that we all do our best to cover the backs of our Troops back home while they are serving for our freedoms overseas!