Saturday, 28 May 2011

How dare they?

The Serbians are really awful. They think Ratko Mladic, their guy responsible for mass slaughter of Muslim civilians at Srebenica, Bosnia, is a big hero and should be protected from international courts that plan to charge him with genocide. What could possibly be wrong with people like that?

[from Wikipedia] The first reports claimed that ‘128 Viet Cong and 22 civilians’ were killed in the village during a ‘fierce fire fight’. General William C. Westmorelandcongratulated the unit on the ‘outstanding job’. As related at the time by the Army’s Stars and Stripes magazine, ‘U.S. infantrymen had killed 128 Communists in a bloody day-long battle’.

Initial investigations of the My Lai operation [concluded] that some 20 civilians were ‘inadvertently’ killed during the operation. . . .

In November 1969, General William R. Peers, appointed to investigate the My Lai incident and its subsequent cover-up, was highly critical of top officers [including Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Army Major] for participation in a cover-up. In May 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, [and later pre-presidential candidate] told CNN’s Larry King, ‘I got there after My Lai happened. So in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored’.

Army veteran Ronald Ridenhour sent a letter in March 1969 detailing the events at My Lai to President Richard M. Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and numerous members of Congress. Most recipients of Ridenhour’s letter ignored it, with the exception of Congressman Morris Udall (D-Arizona) and Senators Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) and Edward Brooke (R-Massachusetts).

The Peers Commission later confirmed the massacre. However, critics of the Peers Commission pointed out that it sought to place the real blame on four officers who were already dead.

On November 17, 1970, the United States Army charged 14 officers, including Major General Samuel W. Koster, the Americal Division’s commanding officer, with suppressing information related to the incident. Most of those charges were later dropped. The only officer who stood trial on charges relating to the cover-up was acquitted on December 17, 1971.

Lt. William Calley was convicted on March 29, 1971, of premeditated murder for ordering the shootings. He was initially sentenced to life in prison. Two days later, President Nixon ordered Calley released from prison pending appeal of his sentence. Calley would eventually serve four and one-half months in a military prison.

In a separate trial, Captain Medina denied giving the orders that led to the massacre, and was acquitted of all charges. Several months after his acquittal, however, Medina admitted that he had suppressed evidence and had lied.

Most of the enlisted men who were involved in the events at My Lai had already left military service and were thus legally exempt from prosecution. In the end, of the 26 men initially charged, Calley’s was the only conviction.

Secretary of the Army Howard Callaway was quoted in the New York Times as stating that Calley’s sentence was reduced because Calley honestly believed that what he did was a part of his orders—a rationale that stands in direct contradiction of the standards set at Nuremberg and Tokyo where German and Japanese soldiers were executed for similar acts.

Outraged at Calley’s prosecution and sentence, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter instituted ‘American Fighting Man’s Day’ and asked Georgians to drive for a week with their lights on. Indiana’s governor asked all state flags to be flown at half-staff for Calley. The Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, New Jersey and South Carolina legislatures requested clemency for Calley. Alabama’s governor George Wallace visited Calley in the stockade and requested that Nixon pardon him.

After the conviction, the White House received over 5000 telegrams; the ratio was 100 to 1 in favor of leniency. In a telephone survey of the American public, 79% disagreed with the verdict, 81% believed that the life sentence Calley had received was too stern, and 69% believed Calley had been made a scapegoat.

Those Serbians. Horrible nazis. Revolting.
[Women and children killed seconds after the photo was taken. My Lai, Vietnam, March 16, 1968. Photo: Ronald L. Haeberle]

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