The great news is that yet another US Marine has had charges against them dropped.
I brought you the story of Lt. Col Chessani who is still facing charges, but it seems that even more ground has fallen away from the military’s attempt to punish all those at Haditha. Marine Lance Cpl Tatum will no longer face charges of involuntary manslaughter; charges that stemmed from an incident in November 2005 when civilians were killed. A defence lawyer for Lance Cpl Tatum says:
“It became clear to the experienced prosecution team that the right thing to do was to dismiss all charges.
“We believe the evidence shows that Lance Corporal Tatum reacted to an enemy attack the way he was trained to do.”
“The way he was trained to… ” Repeatedly, I have heard troops say “I was just doing my job.” Unless we are in the situation standing alongside our troops, we cannot KNOW what they are facing. In July 2007, Lance Cpl Tatum made a statement to the hearing officer Lt. Col Paul Ware:
There are some points I’d like to bring to light…
After the grenade went off, I went in and followed my training firing in my sector.
The visibility was horrible. There was dust and smoke. I really couldn’t make out more than targets. Someone yelled there was a runner, so I followed my fire team to house 2.
Before we entered, Mendoza engaged someone through the door. Inside, I was told to frag a room. When I saw that room was clear, I heard another Marine engage in the next room. My duty was to help that Marine, so I went in and engaged targets…
I did not tell NCIS I knew there were women and children before I fired. I did not know there was women and children in that house until I went back later in the afternoon with SSgt Laughner. Otherwise, I would have physically stopped everybody from shooting. The conversation Mendoza said happened never happened.
I am not comfortable with the fact that I might have shot a child. I don’t know if my rounds impacted anybody. That is a burden I will have to bear…
This story is a long way from over, but for Lance Cpl Tatum there has to be some measure of relief.
On another Marine-related matter, more good news. Well okay, GREAT news.
That is Marine Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder. His father, Albert, laid his precious son to rest in March 2006. Along with the respectful mourners at the funeral, there was also a bunch of “uninvited guests.” These “UG” are notorious for attending the funerals of our servicemembers and trying to disrupt the proceedings. They are unsuccessful, for the most part, due in no small measure to the attendance of Patriot Guard Riders who shield the family from the Westboro Baptist “Church” rallies.
However, following Lance Cpl Snyder’s funeral, his dad Albert sued the WBC. He won and was given a judgement of $2.9m against the Phelps’ bunch. And the wheels of justice continue rolling. This past week, a judge put a lien against the WBC property and assets. [Tanker Brothers ] [ Examiner ]
A federal judge in Baltimore ordered Westboro Baptist Church members to post their church building and nearly $500,000 more in cash and property while appealing a judgment for protesting a Marine’s funeral.
Westboro church members preach that God kills American soldiers as punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality. They protested Matthew Snyder’s Westminster funeral in March 2006 by waving signs with such messages as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”
America IS based on a tenet of freedom of speech, but this judgement proves there are limits to this freedom, Justice IS being served here! Semper Fi, Marines!
And there is more good news, sort of!
It seems that Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has clearly stated that he has no plans to attend the Beijing Olympics this summer. As the thuggery towards Tibetans by the heavy boot of China continues, world leaders are debating whether or not they should attend. But Stephen Harper will not be there. From the CBC comes this:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government hasn’t discussed boycotting the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics over human rights concerns, but that he does not plan to attend.
“I would continue to urge China to respect human rights and peaceful protest, not just in Tibet but everywhere,” Harper said.
“And I would also encourage the government of China to understand that its growing wealth, its growing importance in the world and of course, the profile of the Olympics, will put a greater and greater spotlight on its record in this regard.”
I am not sure why the other leaders still feel the need to debate this issue, but good on Harper for not attending, even though he does say senior officials from Canada will be there.
And lastly, we have Harper and his government going against the will of Canadians, and the opposition parties.
As most American readers know, the debate continues in the US as to whether individual states should fly the national flag at half staff to honour fallen troops. Some states do lower their flags, and some choose not to. The debate has this week come to Canada. There was a motion in the Canadian parliament on this very issue. Yes, Canada lowers her flags on Remembrance Day and when dignitaries die, but it is only since 2002 and the Chretien government (Liberals, that the maple leaf flag has been lowered in Ottawa – atop the Peace Tower, as each fallen hero is returned home. It seems the government of today, Conservative, has decided to ignore that fairly new tradition, and debate has been hot and furious across the land. Even though a motion was passed after a vote of 142-115 in favour of retaining this mark of respect, Harper has said his government will ignore the will of the people.
Stephen Harper’s minority government has survived more than a few ‘confidence motions’, but seems determined to ignore the results of the latest Canadian style advisory committee recommendations. But this is not over yet. This is a thorny issue that touches the Canadian soul, and despite the demands to NOT have it be a political issue, the politicians are still weighing in.
” The emotionally charged, symbolic gesture does nothing to resolve a simmering debate over the flag protocol on Parliament Hill, and in fact may muddy the waters going forward.
Bloc Quebecois and New Democrat MPs backed the Liberal private member’s motion to easily defeat the minority Conservatives by a vote of 142-115.
“It’s not an academic exercise,” said Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi, who tabled the motion.
“It’s the recognition of the people who are doing very difficult jobs overseas, to have them know that we members of Parliament respect what they do..” .. [ The Star ]
Does the matter end here? Not hardly, and the debate and arguments will, no doubt, continue. File this one under “Not so good news.”