U.S. Army Medic Found Guilty of Murdering 4 Iraqis

Sgt Michael Leahy Jr, a 28 year old army medic, was found guilty of the murder of four Iraqis at a courts-martial trial in Germany today. He faces up to life in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Leahy was one of a group of soldiers who took detainees away after it was decided there was not enough evidence to charge them. Blindfolded and gagged, the four were then shot and dumped in a canal.

Leahy admitted killing one of the Iraqis. His lawyer's argument:

His lawyers argued that the stress of being in a conflict zone for so long meant he was unable to reason properly. ...His lawyer, Frank Spinner, argued that Leahy went along with the killings because he was dazed from a lack of sleep.

"The tragedy resulted not so much by design but rather the working of fear, danger and madness attendant on many combat operations," Mr Spinner said in his closing arguments.

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    Right and wrong (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 06:17:16 PM EST
    No doubt the medic is guilty of murder.

    Also - no doubt that the American military trains people not to feel anything at all about killing people. Whether it be the folks who send drones out to drop bombs in populated areas of Pakistan - or more up front as with Leahy.

    Leahy is guilty. But he is a creation of our government. And our government is something for which we bear some responsibility.

    Source? (none / 0) (#2)
    by wagnert in atlanta on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:26:04 PM EST
     No doubt that the American military trains people not to feel anything at all about killing people.

    And you know this because?  Somehow I doubt that this was revealed to you by any active member of the military.


    Sounds Like (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:31:39 PM EST
    Cold blooded murder, imo. Maybe it had nothing to do with routinely killing people as a job, although I would imagine it gets easier after the first time.

    Medic Guilty of Murder (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dusti on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:06:53 PM EST
    Apparently, you have no clue what our military are trained to do. That's a sad ignorance that gives the left a black eye. Ignorance feeds fear/hate, and until you educate yourself and learn more about this institution you seemingly fear/hate, you will continue to do yourself a disservice by living in ignorance. Some bad apples make their way into the whole..the military isn't spared the law of averages. I'm glad the medic was found guilty and I have yet to speak with anyone associated with the military who doesn't agree with me on that. He isn't a reflection of the whole or even the majority.  You can believe that or not, but you should keep in mind that we wouldn't be the only super power without having the US military protecting us and our interests abroad. You wouldn't have the freedom to say such things if not for our military. They give up their freedoms to protect yours. They can't speak freely about politics and world issues..so even if you don't like them, perhaps you could find it in you to respect them.

    The most disturbing thing... (none / 0) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:51:03 PM EST
    ...to me anyway, is that this is a medic.  Someone you hope would place a high value on saving lives, not taking them.

    I agree, I wonder what drove him to do it. (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:51:37 PM EST
    He temporarily (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:20:38 PM EST
    regressed to when he was 8.

    By the way, those Iraqis were all highly respected members of the community.


    Who... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Twitchiskool on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:42:27 PM EST
    The hell are you? How would you know who those Iraqis were? By the way, those "highly respected Iraqis" shot at US Soldiers and fled into a house where they were captured. So unless you know Sgt Leahy or have served with him like I have, shut it

    Who... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Twitchiskool on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:47:07 PM EST
    The hell are you? How would you know who those Iraqis were? By the way, those "highly respected Iraqis" shot at US Soldiers and fled into a house where they were captured. So unless you know Sgt Leahy or have served with him like I have, shut it

    We'll probably never really know. (none / 0) (#7)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:28:47 PM EST
    I suspect that he just saw too many of friends mained and killed that he just snapped and took it out on who he thought was the cause of that.  

    I know a heck of a lot of former trauma nurses and the average time of service in the ER/FFL was about 5 years before they burnt out due to the stress and the gruesome things they see on a day-in, day-out basis.  I imagine being a medic in Iraq is like working at a trauma center times a thousand.


    Another toy soldier (none / 0) (#8)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:46:21 PM EST
    the little rich kids -- Bush, Cheney, Wolfie et al -- played with for awhile under the Christmas tree, and will soon throw away.

    To Civlians (none / 0) (#10)
    by Twitchiskool on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:17:28 AM EST
    I have worked with Sgt Leahy and I know for a fact that he is not a, as you call him, "Government Drone". To those of you who wonder what it's like to be shot at on a daily basis let me explain it to you. The sheer fact of knowing that your in a country filled with people who want you dead and wont think twice about killing themselves in order to kill you, is the single most horrifying thought to live with. Sgt Leahy not only had to treat fellow soldiers, but Iraqi civilians who were caught in the middle as well. He himself was injured during his tour by an enemy sniper. Coming from someone who has seen some of the things he has seen, I understand what was going through his mind. I can not explain the feeling of coming face to face with the person responsible for a fellow soldiers injury. Its mind boggling that as soldiers we go overseas to defend this country, only to come back to it and have people say the things that they say about us. I hope to god you all enjoy the luxury's you have because its soldiers like us who make it to where you can sit in your cozy houses and talk down to us. Next time, enlist yourself and see things from our point of view. In closing, what Sgt Leahy did was, by law wrong, but as a soldier myself believe what he did can be justified as morally right. Cut him some slack and pray for him and his family.    

    Legally Wrong But Morally Right? (none / 0) (#11)
    by john horse on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:42:32 AM EST
    Reading your analysis of Sgt Leahy brought to mind what author Chris Hedges presciently said in 2004:
    You have an elusive enemy. You're not fighting a set organized force, the way we were, for example, in the first Persian Gulf War. So you very rarely see your attacker, and this builds up a great deal of frustration. This frustration is compounded by the fact that you live in an environment where you are almost universally despised. Everyone becomes the enemy. And after your unit suffers -- after, for instance, somebody in your unit is killed by a sniper who melts back into the slums where the shot was fired from -- it becomes easy to carry out acts of revenge against people who are essentially innocent, but who you view as culpable in some way for the death of your comrades.

    Because of the untenable situation that our soldiers were sent in and because of the likely increase of post traumatic stress caused by multiple deployments, it is not surprising that atrocities did occur.  

    I would urge you to read what Chris Hedges wrote about the stress that soldiers would face in Iraq because you have some misunderstanding about the position of some of us on the Left.

    I think what Sgt Leahy did was legally wrong and understandable given the stress he was under and the situation he was in.  I am willing to do as you suggest and cut him some slack on that. However, you also say he was morally right.  I fail to see how it was morally right to blindfold, gag and execute Iraqi civilians.  

    Lets hold the administration that sent you, Sgt Leahy and other soldiers into an unjustified war to account.  But lets not just pray for Sgt Leahy and his family.  What about the 4 Iraqi civilians that he murdered and their families?  Don't they deserve our prayers as well?  


    John Horse (none / 0) (#12)
    by Twitchiskool on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:00:03 AM EST
    From what i can tell, you watch a lot of news and read a lot of news papers. When I talked about Visually seeing the enemy, I was talking about how they literally pursued the attackers into a building where they simply surrendered on the day of the attack. I do understand that we can not see our enemy sometimes, such as snipers, but we can, after being there for so long, tell who likes us, and who wants us dead. Also, the detainees were not blindfolded and gagged as the the press said. Its standard operating procedure (SOP) to blindfold and zip cuff all detainees before putting them into vehicles for transport for security. If you do enough research on Sgt Leahy, you notice some articles leave pieces out that others put in. In his confession he talks about how after the contact they were detained, and put into the back of an American Bradley. As for the families, coming from one who's talked with some before, they would rather have them killed in contact then have their house raided or mortared by Americans. I once met a woman who led us to the capture of her own son who was a known IED (Improvised Explosive Device) maker. I can go on for days about how i feel about fair treatment but I will give you this, it was morally wrong, but can be justified. I also read up on this Chris Hedges guy. He is a reporter. What am I, as a soldier, supposed to learn from a reporter. I refuse to listen to him tell me who I'm fighting and what it does to me. Ironically enough though, Sgt Leahy was shot in the neck by an enemy sniper. He was awarded the Purple Heart for giving what he had to give. He also saved fellow soldiers lives as well as Iraqi civilians

    What Can A Soldier Learn From A Reporter? (none / 0) (#13)
    by john horse on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:42:22 PM EST
    I think we can agree that Iraq was a pretty f*cked up situation to be placed in.    

    Regarding Chris Hedges, Hedges was a war correspondent. He wrote a book called War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning that was about the nature of war itself, its causes and consequences, and the physical, emotional, and moral devastation it leaves in its wake.
    According to Hedges:

    "I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments."  

    Sounds to me like you and him might have more in common than you think.  Based on your comments I think you have the wrong idea about Hedges.  You probably think that he is all about putting down you, Sgt Leahy, and your fellow soldiers who have fought in our wars.  This is just not true.  There is a mistaken stereotype among some people in the military that those of us on the left see you guys as monsters.  Again, not true.  

    Based on your comments Sgt Leahy sounded to me like a pretty decent guy.  So how does a decent, moral person end up doing something that was morally wrong?  Maybe someone who wrote a book about the physical, emotional, and moral devastation of war might have be able to explain this.

    But how.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Twitchiskool on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:16:07 PM EST
    I still refuse to believe that this reporter understands whats its like. Ive been on many patrols and raids with reporters like him tagging along. I can tell you first hand that the first thing you do when in contact is get that guy away from you and back in the vehicle. The last thing we want is someone getting in the way of operations. Thats how people get hurt, or worse, captured. I also believe that these reporters that go out with different types of platoons and companies don't have the ties that we as soldiers have together. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these people don't feel the effects of seeing soldiers get hurt or die, I'm saying its deeper then that. Only the people that have felt it can explain it. No one person can fully understand when interviewing people unless they themselves have felt the same way. All these soldiers have bonded and become brothers. Its a different feeling to see someone get hurt or die as it is to see someone who youve known and lived with for years. We train together, live together, hang out, drink, and even know each others families. Having to try and save the life of someone you have that kind of connection with only for him to die in your arms, will effect you in a different manner then just seeing another soldier die. Dont get me wrong, this reporter means well, but if you ask anyone whos fought and lived that life, they will tell you, being there and being a part of it are completely different things. So in that sense, no, him and I are not a like. I'm the guy who fights, protects, and dies for my country, and he's the guy who tells the story. Thats it.  That is why no civilian can try to justify his actions.  

    Twitch, thanks for your real-life input (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:16:52 PM EST
    and your service. People around here can be a little obsessive, but stick around if you can.

    Personally I can't imagine being in a war situation like you have, and I have no confidence that I'd act/react nearly as well as I might think I would do as I sit here, behind my computer, completely safe.

    Stay well.