Thursday, February 02, 2006

Man, where does the Army get these lawyers! 
When they're not dissuading commanders from hitting legitimate targets and materially setting back our war aims ...

When they're not prosecuting a Captain for doing the decent thing and putting an expectant Iraqi out of his misery...
When they're not mischaracterizing the law and going after a lieutenant in combat for burning two Taliban corpses after locals refused to pick them up and after they were stinking up his position ...

When they're not prosecuting a Lieutenant for making sure a dead Iraqi who just tried to kill him was well and truly dead ...

When they're not misreading the law and prohibiting U.S. snipers from using legal hollow-tip bullets...

They're claiming that a waiver of liability in case of personal injury clause entitles the Army to steal journalists' intellectual property.

Splash, out


For the most part, I was never particularly impressed by the JAG types that I interacted with during my career. The principal exception to that rule was the Commander I took an International Law class from in Iceland. That guy was a gem.
You do realize that:

1) Klein is probably not a JAG officer;

2) JAGs don't make the decision to prosecute, commanders do. And then JAGs both prosecute and defend.
For instance, two Army JAG officers defended Maynulet, and by all accounts did an excellent job defending him. A panel of Army officers convicted him.
Yeah, you're correct. Commanders do make the decision to prosecute, ultimately. It does seem to me, though, that CENTCOM has thrown some people under the bus on some questionable legal grounds, nevertheless - I'm thinking primarily about that LT on the hill in Afghanistan - whose name I don't recall, and 2nd Lt. Pantano.

It's frustrating to see because I think we're allowing ourselves to become hamstrung. Yes, we do need to obey the laws of war and hold our leaders to a high standard. And to do that we need a robust JAG corps. But that JAG corps should not eclipse the authority of commanders. It should buttress it and support it.

And that support should extend right down to the lieutenant on the hill.

In my view - and it's always a delicate matter to second guess anyone - but CENTCOM and its subordinate commands should first determine whether the actions of that LT, or Pantano, etc., were legal.

If that case cannot reasonably be argued, only then should we resort to criminal prosecution.

I just get the sense that we're getting it backwards.
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