Tag Archives: War

Jury Convicts Soldier of Conspiracy and Murder for Killing Afghan Civilians

A U.S. soldier accused of exhorting his underlings to slaughter three civilians was convicted of murder, conspiracy, and other charges today in a case from the Afghan war.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was the highest ranking of five soldiers charged in the deaths of the unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar last year. At his seven-day court-martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the twenty-six-year-old acknowledged cutting fingers off corpses and yanking out a victim’s tooth to keep as war trophies, but he insisted he wasn’t involved in the first or third killings, and in the second he merely returned fire.

Prosecutors said Gibbs and his co-defendants knew the victims posed no danger and dropped weapons by their dead bodies to make them seem to have been combatants.

Three co-defendants pleaded guilty; two testified against him, portraying him as a leader who played with a victim’s corpse, moving the mouth like a puppet. Gibbs insisted they conspired to blame him for what they had done.

The jury deliberated for four hours. The sentencing hearing began immediately after the verdict was announced. The prosecutor asked for life without parole. He told jurors that Gibbs was supposed to protect the Afghan people but caused many to lose trust in Americans, hurting the mission. LeBlanc noted that Gibbs called the Afghans “savages.”

Gibbs’ lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, asked for leniency — life with parole, instead of without it — and noted that Gibbs could be eligible for parole after ten years if they allowed it.

The investigation into the Fifth Stryker Brigade unit exposed widespread misconduct. The wrongdoing included hash-smoking, collection of illicit weapons, mutilation and photography of Afghan remains, and gang-beating of a soldier who reported the drug use.

In all, twelve soldiers were charged; all but two have been convicted.

After the first killing, one soldier alerted his parents and told them more killings were planned, but his father’s call to a sergeant at Lewis-McChord relaying the warning went unheeded. He later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the last killing, saying he took part because he believed Gibbs would kill him if he didn’t.

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Army Suicides Hit Record in July

Tal Afar, Iraq

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In July, the U.S. Army suffered a record thirty-two suicides, the most since it began releasing monthly figures in 2009. The number includes twenty-two active-duty soldiers and ten reservists.

The previous record number of Army suicides was thirty-one in June 2010.

Recognizing that suicide has been an increasing problem, the Army has put a heavy focus on reducing suicides in recent years.

I’d like to quote the friend who alerted me to this sad and disturbing article:

You may be for the wars or against the wars, but we must all be for the men and women (and their families) who are fighting the wars. We must do better. Period.


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Senate Resolution to Investigate Sri Lankan War Crimes

Coat of arms of Sri Lanka.

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The United States Senate passed a resolution calling on the Sri Lankan administration and the international community to support the United Nations in holding Sri Lanka to an international standard of accountability for human rights violations.

Human rights and international law experts have been appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to counsel Sri Lanka towards accountability.

We are approaching the two year anniversary of the end of the 26 year conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka. The government maintains that no civilians were killed during the conflict, but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have estimated that approximately 40,000 noncombatants were killed.

Via Impunity Watch.

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