Pageviews last month

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Thou hast appealed to Caesar--but unto Caesar shalt thou go?

Steven Dale Green has appealed his conviction for leading a gang of off-duty American soldiers in raping and murdering an Iraqi girl, base on the alleged unconstitutionality of a law which allowed him to be tried in Kentucky as a civilian for a crime he admits he committed in Iraq as a member of the occupying army.

I don't know about whether the federal law that allows discharged soldiers from being tried by American courts for crimes committed abroad is constitutional or not; that's the sort of thing that no one ever seems to know but five of the nine members of the Supreme Court. But I can definitely tell that it is un-American to allow a member of an occupying Army to be immune from prosecution in the country where he commits a crime. Just read the Declaration of Independence:

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has . . . . kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

One of the complaints that impelled the colonies to declare independence was that British soldiers could commit the very sort of crime that Private First Class Green did, without having to face a local judge and jury to answer for their crimes. Instead they were either given a military trial and sent back to duty after a slap on the wrist, or even--in the case of officers--returned for trial in England where there would be no witnesses against them.

It was kind of hard to get witnesses to the Mahmudiyah murders, since the perpetrators had killed them all. But it can be safely assumed that had the killers gone on trial in an Iraqi court, at least their leader, PFC Green, would have received the death penalty--something the Kentucky jurors who heard his case didn't quite think he deserved. Now, granted, Green isn't asking to be tried in an Iraqi tribunal, but an Army one--where he thinks he could get away with even less than the lifetime in prison that the federal court handed down.

You have appealed to Caesar, Mr. Green: watch out. If the judges have to go all the way back to the Constitution to nullify the law that convicted you, they might just keep on reading and decide that it's also wrong to allow you to escape prosecution in the jurisdiction under which you committed your crimes. If our founding fathers had any say in the matter, Mr. Green, you'd be on the next plane to Baghdad, in shackles.

No comments:

Post a Comment

One comment per viewer, please--unless participating in a dialogue.