Monday, January 30, 2012

The Court Martial of Sgt. Wuterich



As you read this, think of Bradley Manning.  A guy in California steals a pizza and gets life imprisonment.  A Wall Street bankster who robs millions of dollars from the people almost never does any jail time.






The Court Martial of Sgt. Wuterich


Who's Watching Whose Back?




January 30, 2012




Last week's farce of the court martial of Marine

sergeant Frank Wuterich at Camp Pendleton, California

is a license to murder.  Everyone, especially the

Iraqis, seems to understand this except the American

public from President Obama on down.  Wuterich led an

eight-man combat team of Marines in a killing orgy in

Haditha, western Iraq, in 2005, that massacred 24

unarmed civilians including 11 women and kids.   All

witnesses, including the Marines, testified that what

occurred was basically an execution not a fire fight.


Wuterich could have faced 152 years in the brig.  But

under a plea deal, after a six year long investigation

begun only when a Time magazine reporter began asking

questions, and marked by a string of official lies,

Wuterich was let off with a wrist slap, a reduction in

rank and no prison time.  None of the other Marines

will be punished.


All the members of Wuterich's military court were

chosen for prior combat experience because they

presumably knew what the "fog of war" could do to a man

under stress.  Thus, the issue became not one of guilt

or innocence, or degree of culpability, but: what would

you do in the boots of this fallible, frightened, angry



Under the current rules of engagement, dramatized a few

days ago when Navy Seals daringly rescued two hostages,

including an American woman, from Somali kidnappers who

were shot down, anything is permissible if you feel

yourself - or you later tell investigators - that you

were under threat.


Obama loves his Seals, which is the same unit that

killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.  In their fierce

focus on mission, fanatic discipline, unit solidarity,

tactical skills, mastery of killer weapons and courage,

they are -  the President insists - what we civilians

should ALL be like.


It's no secret Obama has a crush on, or been

intimidated by, his generals - all those ribbons, all

that braid!   Allegedly they answer to their Commander

in Chief rather than the reverse, but in reality he

gives them pretty much everything they want, and

glorifies their military adventures as the very best

that America can do in the world.


Now he's gone overboard, in his 25 January state of the

union speech to both houses of Congress - and in an

election year speaking over their heads to the rest of us.


Ritual flattery was to be expected.  But his fawning

went over the line into real, hardass absurdity,

starting with his opening, "We gather tonight knowing

that this generation of heroes has made the United

States safer and more respected around the world." 

What world does Obama live in?


But then he got down to business by contrasting the

greatness and glory of the military with our present,

well, what shall we call it?, decay, disappointment,

depravity of American democracy.  "At a time," he

thundered, "when too many of our institutions have let

us down, they exceed all expectations."


Then the kicker: "Imagine what we could accomplish if

we followed their example!"


Uh huh.  As a former conscript, who liked the military

and almost re-upped, what I know best about this

hierarchical, do-as-you're-told organization is that it

is, and is supposed to be, undemocratic and that you

follow orders without question...or else. Messy,

argumentative loudmouth democracy is not on Obama's

agenda, military quick-step is.  Or rather, his fantasy

of military life, since he never served.  "They're not

consumed by personal ambition.   They don't obsess over

their differences.  They focus on the mission at

hand...Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed

their example..."


Yes, imagine.  A militarized civilian life is

Obama-the-liberal's Utopia?


Just a couple of days ago military helicopters hovered

over downtown Los Angeles and San Fernando valley

practicing for what nobody will tell us except, in a

tightlipped police statement, "to ensure the military's

ability to operate in urban environments".  And the

Blackhawks will be back soon, it's promised.   Local

police departments all over America are pressing the

Federal Aviation Authority to relax rules to permit

more domestic use of unmanned Reaper drones for "urban

monitoring"; i.e. domestic surveillance.   Colorado and

Miami-Dade police already use UAVs to catch alleged

criminals...and, I assume, to spy on Occupy protestors.


No, it can't be, not the Saul Alinsky disciple and

antiwar liberal Obama moving us closer to the police

state that fringe groups and politicians like Ron Paul

have warned us about?


One reason why Obama said we should copy the military

is that "you know that there's someone behind you,

watching your back."


That's what worries me.


CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He can be reached at




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