A US army sergeant was convicted by court-martial yesterday of murdering unarmed civilians and cutting fingers from their corpses as ringleader of a rogue platoon in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.
The guilty verdict on all counts, returned after five hours of deliberations, carried an automatic life prison sentence, but the five-member jury panel then decided that Staff Sgt Calvin Gibbs (26) would be eligible for parole in eight-and-a-half years.
Pentagon officials have said the misconduct exposed by the case, which evolved from an inquiry of drug abuse within Gibbs' Stryker Brigade infantry unit, damaged the image of the United States around the globe.
Photographs entered as evidence in the case showed Gibbs and other soldiers casually posing with bloodied Afghan corpses, drawing comparisons with the inflammatory Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq in 2004.
The decisions by the jury panel - two enlisted personnel and three officers followed a week-and-a-half of testimony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma.
Gibbs, who has denied committing murder, declined to speak before sentencing.
His civilian lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse, asked the panel for leniency in its parole decision, saying Gibbs had ample time for reflection during his pretrial confinement and "is not the same person he was when he went to Afghanistan." He added his client wished for the chance to be reunited with his young son at some point in the future.
Military prosecutor Major Dre Leblanc argued against parole, reminding the panel that Gibbs had often said of the Afghan people he terrorised, "These people are all savages, look at how they live."
Gibbs was convicted on three counts of premeditated murder in the slayings of Afghan villagers last year that were disguised as legitimate combat engagements. Prosecutors said he acted as the chief instigator behind those killings and
other assaults by members of his self-described "kill team."
Besides charges of murder, conspiracy and other offenses, he was found guilty of beating a soldier who reported
hashish use to superiors and of military code violations for cutting fingers off bodies as war
A single count of threatening another soldier was dismissed earlier this week.
Gibbs insisted two of the killings for which he was charged were in self-defense and that he played no role in the other. He denied allegations of planting weapons near the bodies.
Testifying in his own defense last Friday, Gibbs said he had "disassociated" himself from his actions while in combat and likened the removal of fingers from dead bodies to the taking of antlers from a deer.
Prosecution witnesses portrayed Gibbs as a blood-thirsty renegade who intimidated fellow soldiers and harbored a deep, ethnic hatred of the very people US troops were sent to protect from Taliban forces.
His chief accuser was the ex-corporal described as Gibbs' right-hand man, Jeremy Morlock, who pleaded guilty to murder for his role in the same three killings and was sentenced in March to 24 years in prison under a deal with prosecutors to obtain his co-operation in the case.
Five soldiers in all from the infantry unit formerly called the 5th Stryker Brigade were accused of murder, although Gibbs and Morlock were the only charged with more than one killing.
All is fair in love and war.
One can not comment on the mind set of a solider until they have been there and done that.
Have you had bullets flying at your head?
I support the US Military Soldiers 100%... I just do not support most of the people who are telling them to go to war... nor do I support the cause or motives. Soldiers are put in a no win situation every day.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Ever hear of a thing called the Geneva Convention?
Yes, that's a bit naive. I have no doubt that military personnel are put under pressure. But, whoever you are, you have to ask yourself the ultimate questions, are rape, torture and murdering of civilians within your remit, or why did you became a soldier in the first place? To commit these terrible acts?
Showing your true colors eh? Yeah, you're a great human being.
If him seeing traumatizing violence excuses his actions, then kids shooting up school should be excused because they were picked on. The crimes should be considered and the sentence should be no less than life in prison. I almost wish I didn't read this, because it greatly disturbs me, because it brings great shame on the military.
And so this makes the US terrorists ..........HOW? Typical media crap!
In what way were his actions different from those who you would call terrorists?
His actions weren't different except that they were not sanctioned by the government nor the military. He has been tried and convicted. (There may be better examples of US actions that ARE sanctioned by the government that might be considered terrorism.)
No, ahorseback, it doesn't make "the US" terrorists.
This @$$#013 and his so-called "kill team" are US terrorists.
See the difference?
An American soldier doing that kind of stuff is worse than Wikileaks.
IMO, the unnamed soldier who reported Gibbs for cutting off fingers (and who got beat up for it) ought to get some kind of official commendation. This Gibbs guy and his cohorts acted barbarically and probably made a lot of Afghanis fear and hate the US military.
I believe the only fair and equitable thing to do would have been to turn these savages over to the Afghan authorities and allow them to be tried on Afghan soil and suffer whatever punishment that country deemed appropriate.
I'm embarassed that they are being dealt with so leniently.
Cool, you're the only person that's noticed it. I think it's beautiful
No, not the only person to notice it, just the only person to comment on it.
Mike - to say you support the military without reservation - sees you slide down my ladder of respect - we must all question our government and our military - this is not the first such action - remember a unit of US soliders raped a 14 year old Iraq child and then murdered the child and her family to cover up their crimes against humanity - this is not an issolated incident - this is about people in authority reducing the lives of our fellow man in Iraq and Afghan to mere disposable animals....terrorism is terrorism....if the state commits acts of terror it is equal if not worse than acts of terror by non state fanatics........if I did not believe that then I would still be a terrorist...bullets....yes.....I heard them and seen them
What I think makes you slide down the "ladder" of respect is the fact that you ignorantly call the military and the government the same thing. It is that kind of ignorance that destroyed our Soldiers when they got home from fighting in Vetnam. You wanna know who is responsible? EVERY ONE OF US! Not our military, they are only following the orders the people we "elect" give them. Trust your military, question your government, and HOLD YOUR OWN PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE!
Also, Just FYI making generalized comments about soldiers is " about people in authority reducing the lives of our fellow man in Iraq and Afghan to mere disposable animals....terrorism is terrorism...." Our soldiers are HUMAN BEINGS! Not a faceless mass being controlled by the Death star. These are people with children and families, not all of them decide to take the war to that level... And also, it's war dumbass, war sucks. So maybe instead of attacking our own people we stop sending them to a place that destroys their lives! Easy to talk when you've never set foot in the desert!
"From The Archive
WAR is a Racket. It Always Has Been
By Major General Smedley Butler, USMC."
"The countries that bombed the oil-rich country are now getting lucrative contracts to rebuild it."
"US plans "bunker-busting" bombs sale to UAE:"
Awe Hollie that's cute, I went to Iraq, not as a soldier, but as a civilian, and I saw. I fear that your naive remarks will turn to hatred toward people that are controlled by the people YOU allow to rule this country.
I don't allow anyone to rule "this country". Presumably, correct me if I'm wrong, you mean America. You make massive assumptions and do not know anything about me. BTW, I was responding to Mike's post not yours.
Oh yeah, and this rape torture and killing have been happening in those countries and will keep happening long after we are gone. There are crazy people everywhere, but judging an entire group of people aka Military based on a few crazies is almost as stupid as invading two countries over a hand full of terrorists flying into a building. DUMB
You're making assumptions again. Who said I judged an entire military, I'll judge their leaders ( they don't tend to fight that often) There are as many vets, as you call the in America, and x-soldiers as we call them in the UK. Who've raised the same questions as I. Why were we sent to war, is this the reason why we were fighting? Rape and torture will continue to happen, cos the truth is, we never really leave.
Not making assumptions, some of that was not directed at you anyway. The point is the reason we have been sending people to war is because the US, GB and all of our inhabitants ALLOW IT! That is all I am saying.
Okay time to move on to other forums , This one is pure unadultered crap! I just read a story about a ninety two year old man who , In WW11, left his simple farm life to enter into a war of the world across an ocean in a land where he didn't know the language , the people , the customs ! With the simple intent to save Europe from itself! ......Leaveing from a country that was isolated enough to be safe from that war!........sound familiar .........And here's the kicker , the likes of those in this forum who completely dis-America for everything it stands....Live on breathing the air of freedom created by real men and women , not the seemingly entitled liberal pinheads here !
Who was dissing America here? The next war will not be about Europe, it will be about arse hole leaders both European and American that will think we are daft enough to do there bidding. People will respond to this post as they think they should.
I just consider the origional posting here , The Irish observer might be better off "cleaning up his own house " in Ireland. The great peace loving nation of civil disobedience !
Great discussion here, I dont think we can ever defeat terrorism with terrorism, its like trying to defeat satanism with satanism, or child abuse with child abuse, decency and democracy must prevail or we have all failed
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