Gibbs Denies Murder

via Billings Gazette:

“What you are seeing in this case is the ultimate betrayal of an infantryman,” said Gibbs’ attorney, Phil Stackhouse.

Stackhouse acknowledged in his opening statement that Gibbs took fingers off the three victims and either kept them as war trophies or gave them to others involved in the killings.

A prosecutor, Capt. Dan Mazzone, told the jurors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord [that] “This case…is about premeditated murder.”

Gibbs joined the unit in…late 2009. He soon began telling others how easy it would be to kill civilians, Mazzone said.

“This platoon is out of control,” Mazzone said. “He sees weak leaders, he sees an opportunity, he sees soldiers who are willing to cross the line.”

Gibbs’ lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, sought to lay the blame for any unjustified killings with Gibbs’ comrades. When Gibbs came to the unit, hash smoking was already rampant, Stackhouse said. The others may have misinterpreted Gibbs’ stories [about deaths in Iraq], [he] suggested.

“On hash-filled nights, under a cloud of intoxication … they’d talk about these things,” he said.

Stackhouse admitted in his opening statement that Gibbs took fingers from the victims.

My take: “Ultimate betrayal of an infantryman” is the usual emotional sanction against imperiling the sacred right of a superior servicemember to engage in whatever behavior strikes his fancy.  It doesn’t belong in a court of law.

The assertions about judgment or memory or interpretation being impaired by hashish are an insult to our intelligence and need to be dropped immediately.  It doesn’t work like that.

I’ve heard some grumbling about Morlock’s plea bargain given his role in the alleged murders.  I disagree with that.  24 years is still a lot and I think this case goes to show:

  1. How easy it is to get away with war crimes, especially in a decentralized counterinsurgency, and
  2. How powerful are the social sanctions against reporting said crimes.  Morlock’s forthrightness needs to be made an example of: Don’t try to hide it from us.  Tell the truth.

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