Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Letting the Jury speak

A cautionary tale for those breathlessly wanting to condemn any and all who are accused of by the military of crimes.

Remember, or perhaps not after the news cycle went on to the next bucket of slime, the “Investigation” into the deaths of inmates in Bagram in 2002?

Well, the Jury is back.
In a last, sharp rebuke to Army prosecutors who had charged more than a dozen soldiers with abusing prisoners at a secret military jail in Afghanistan, a military jury on Thursday acquitted a former Army interrogator of beating and sexually humiliating a man accused as a terrorist.
What was he charge with then, if not their deaths?
He was not charged with mistreating either of the men who had died ... Army prosecutors charged him with beating and kicking Ahmed al-Darbi, a member of Al Qaeda, and stripping off his pants to humiliate him.

Private Corsetti was also accused of smoking hashish on the roof of the Bagram detention center, a cavernous warehouse that had been a Soviet aircraft-machine shop, and failing to obey a lawful order by drinking alcohol in his tent.
Mmmmmm. MIDN Owens syndrome. Investigate one thing - find others - may drop the first - but will get the on the new stuff.
The lead prosecutor, Capt. Christopher Ellis, described the case as one in which clear rules had been egregiously violated. “This case was all about standards that were in place,” he said. “This is not how professional soldiers are trained.”
Well, a jury of professionals weighed the evidence.
The officer in charge of the interrogation platoon, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, appeared publicly for the first time in Private Corsetti’s case, testifying under a grant of immunity...
Interesting way to lead your Soldiers.
One, former Sgt. Selena M. Salcedo, said she had seen Private Corsetti pull down the pants of a high-level Qaeda figure, Omar al-Farouq, during her first Bagram interrogation and later smack the prisoner on his buttocks with an empty plastic water bottle. The other, Sgt. Jennifer Higginbotham, said Private Corsetti had joked to her and other soldiers about an incident in which he demeaned a prisoner.

But the principal accusations of abuse came directly from Mr. Darbi, whom an intelligence official identified as a brother-in-law of a 9/11 hijacker, Khalid Almidar.
..and found it wanting.
The jurors, who included five senior sergeants, two lieutenant colonels and two colonels, deliberated less than half an hour before returning their verdicts. They acquitted Private Corsetti even on the charge involving alcohol, which his defense lawyer, William E. Cassara, readily admitted.
If pulling down someone’s pants and slapping them in the a55 with an empty water bottle is a Courts Marital offense……

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