Patriot Ledger Ignores Evidence, Says Sgt Hutchins Should Stay in Prison
by Kit Lange - 10 May 2008
I read the following screed about Sgt Lawrence Hutchins this afternoon and was so disgusted I had to sit down and write a counterpoint to it. This could get long, so grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. We're going to go through this line by line, so the holier-than-thou folks at the Patriot Ledger who wrote this trash can figure out just how stupid this article is. I'd name the article's author, but he was too much of a coward to put his name on it. This editorial is actually the only one currently on the Enterprise News Opinion page without a name on it. Interesting, isn't it? But let's get started.
Compassion is an essential element of justice, but U.S. Rep. William
Delahunt's plea to free a Plymouth Marine convicted of murdering an Iraqi
civilian is beyond mercy and sends a horrible message about what we will allow
our military members to do in the name of combat.
With this opening statement, the author throws any fairness, truth, or even interest in justice out the window. Actually, what sends a horrible message is training Marines to do a job, then prosecuting them for doing it. The reason Delahunt is making a plea for Hutchins' release is because he has seen the evidence. Delahunt's lawyer sat in the courts-martial. They're quite aware of the situation. Now, believe me when I say Delahunt is a schmuck. He's not supporting Hutchins out of the goodness of his heart. He's doing it because those of us who fight for Larry made sure Larry's congressman knew about the evidence. You can't claim plausible deniability when you own a copy of the documents that prove a Marine innocent.
Delahunt is between a rock and a hard place. If he comes out and asks for Larry to be released, then he has improperly-named rags like the "Patriot Ledger" verbally slapping his limp wrists. If he sits there and prays it all goes away, then people like my friend Tim Harrington will be camped out in front of every news and radio station in New England talking about how Delahunt knows the government railroaded Sgt Hutchins and did nothing. [By the way, the only reason Delahunt is covering this at all is because Tim already did that.] Not everyone in New England is a wacked-out Kennedy liberal, so think about that a moment. Delahunt is simply playing the political game for his own gain–and the Patriot Ledger is even worse because their JOB is to tell the truth.
Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III just had four years of his 15-year prison
term reduced after a plea of clemency to his commanding general. The sentence
and the resulting reduction were sufficiently compassionate for the crimes for
which Hutchins was convicted. Any further reduction would be a perversion of our
military justice system.
Let me explain what "a perversion of our military justice system" really is. Eighteen-hour interrogations with no bathroom breaks. Not recording any of it, and making the Marines sign statements that were not written by them, but constructed by NCIS agents from their memory of the interrogation. How about telling the Marines that asking for a lawyer would "be the worst mistake they ever make?" How about denying them medical attention for their combat injuries while they're in shackles for months before the government even charged them with a crime? Let's not forget the part where the government just happened to "accidentally" stop paying these men before they were ever convicted or even tried, and the part where Sgt Larry Hutchins was in solitary confinement for ten months, even though he had always been a perfect Marine and a stellar example.
Hutchins, 24, and other members of his eight-man squad were convicted or
pled guilty to abducting and killing Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, in the Anbar
Province town of Hamdania. But according to testimony by members of his unit,
Hutchins hatched the plot to kill Awad and then cover up the crime to make it
look like the victim was preparing to bury a roadside bomb.
In the most damning piece of testimony, Navy Hospitalman Melson Bacos,
testified that Hutchins shot Awad in the head to prevent the body from being
identified. Bacos testified Hutchins declared: "Congratulations gents, we've
just gotten away with murder." [emphasis added]
Here we have Example #4,478,897 of someone talking about things he knows nothing about. First of all, Hutchins performed a dead check, and this is done by shooting the person in the head and face. [How many times do I need to go over this?] The idea of him shooting the insurgent in the face to "prevent the body from being identified" is so stupid it defies logic. The Ledger ignores the fact that not even the Iraqis who claimed to be this man's family could identify him before the shooting, let alone after. The government has no idea if it even exhumed the right body–not because Hutchins shot him in the face too many times, but because it relied on a corrupt NCIS agent. Until Agent James Connolly pulled Awad's name out of a hat, those eight men had no idea they had killed anyone but Gowad (the original target)–and there's still no way to know if they didn't.
Consider the number of cases where NCIS has actually been caught fabricating evidence, adding sentences and words to statements that change their meaning, and other such disgusting tactics. In one case a few years ago (the Daniel Scott King case), NCIS agents literally interrogated a Navy enlisted man to the point where he was hallucinating from lack of sleep and writing down his hallucinations and dreams as confessions. NCIS took it all and tried to see him prosecuted for it. They grilled him for almost 20 hours a day, every day, for almost an entire month. Agents even tried to take his young daughter from her elementary school for interrogation after King's wife would not give NCIS access to the girl. [Side note: It's important to mention that they do these things routinely and with impunity. A military judge in the King case ruled that the NCIS was "immune" from prosecution--no matter what.]
We have a Uniform Code of Military Justice and our soldiers, sailors and Marines.
are tried under that system because they are held by peers and superiors who
understand the pressures and situations troops in combat encounter. Civilians
cannot begin to grasp that context
Soldiers, sailors, and Marines are being tried under a system that is broken, by peers and superiors looking for their next stripe or star. They may understand the pressures of combat, but they have lost their integrity and personal honor. They do not operate from a standpoint of loyalty and truth, but from one of cowardice, self-service, and political expediency. For the Patriot ledger to paint the military justice system as anything but a broken sham of a system is irresponsible and misleading.
In World War II, few cases of crimes or atrocities were found because at
that time, we were considered to be defending ourselves. There was a
righteousness to our cause and our soldiers' actions reflected that.
In Korea and Vietnam, the enemy forces often used women and children to
ambush American troops so soldiers had to make split decisions as to what course
of action to take when confronted by civilians.
Some of the same scenarios exist in Iraq, perhaps even more so as we engage
in an urban war where the enemy is not easily or readily identifiable.
But because we entered their country as liberators, our troops must be held to a
higher standard. In Hutchins' case, they dragged an innocent man from his home
and then killed him in cold blood. No one disputes that. But a military jury,
all fellow Marines who served in Iraq, convicted Hutchins of unpremeditated
murder, larceny and making a false official statement.
The Iraq War veterans who heard the case determined Hutchins actions were
neither bad decisions in the course of combat nor acceptable military conduct.
They were crimes. [emphasis added]
I don't even know where to begin with this drivel. "In Hutchins' case, they dragged an innocent man from his home and then killed him in cold blood. No one disputes that." We don't? Actually, this statement is the most dangerous of the whole article, for it takes an untruth and raises it to "of course it's true" status. The man was not innocent, and he was not killed in cold blood. The evidence shows that, and the Patriot Ledger knows better.
We empathize with Hutchins and other young soldiers and Marines placed in
an untenable situation with ever-changing rules of engagement. But if we are to
hold our cause of freedom and justice as a beacon for those on whose behalf we
intervene, we cannot lower the standard for ourselves.
The standard has already been lowered, and not in the way the Ledger thinks. We took men willing to lay down their very lives for our nation and put them in shackles without a conviction or even charges being filed. We denied them legal counsel, due process, and nearly every other right afforded to them under the Constitution. We ignored evidence that exonerated them, and fabricated evidence that vilified them. We wrote about them like they were zoo exhibits, every detail of their lives picked over and pried into as people looked for the "reason" why such good-looking, all-American boys would "kill in cold blood." No one could find a reason–because no cold-blooded killing ever happened. Unless, of course, you think that the killing of the enemy in war is cold-blooded.
If Delahunt is successful in freeing Hutchins, the convicted Marine will
indeed have gotten away with murder.
No. If Delahunt is successful in freeing Hutchins, that Marine will have lost the last two years of his life, had his name dragged through the mud by thousands of "news" outlets across the country, missed two years of his little girl's growing up, and lost a career that he lived for because he believed in its justice and rightness, and that's all just for starters. But at least he'll be able to walk outside and smell the fresh air. He'll get to wake up in the morning and choose the clothes he'd like to wear.
No one "got away with murder." And the Patriot Ledger will not get away with their libel. You see, the Patriot Ledger has had the same information that Delahunt does. They already have everything they need to tell the truth. They are knowingly ignoring that truth and printing the same dangerous lies as everyone else. Their articles consistently paint Hutchins as a cold-blooded murderer, when all along they've had the information proving him innocent.
Where's the real crime?
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