Sham reconciliation, sham justice 0

The quality of mercy in political leaders is sometimes not merely strained but positively contorted.

The excellent Diana West writes about the cruel use of US soldiers as bargaining chips:

We must recognize and protest the travesties of military justice that have tried, convicted, jailed and denied clemency to all too many brave Americans, the same brave Americans who have fought our wars only to be unfairly charged with “murder” in the war zone.

Readers of this column will recall the crushing conviction of Sgt. Evan Vela, a young Ranger-trained sniper and father of two from Idaho, for executing his superior’s 2006 order to kill an Iraqi man who at the time had been compromising his squad’s hiding place in the pre-“surge” Sunni triangle. Ten years in Fort Leavenworth, ordered not-so-blind justice. (There is evidence that Evan’s harsh sentence was a blatant political offering to Iraq’s government.) One reason behind my intense distaste for George W. Bush — my own personal Bush Derangement Syndrome — is the former president’s callousness toward such Americans as Sgt. Vela, who served their commander in chief well in these difficult times of war. As the Bush administration came to an end, talk of a presidential pardon for Vela leaked to the media, no doubt elating the Vela family, but, cruelly, nothing came of it.

It never does. Evan Vela now has all too many brothers-in-arms at Fort Leavenworth prison where they form what is increasingly known as The Leavenworth Ten: Vela (10 years), Corey Claggett (18 years), William Hunsaker (18 years), Raymond Girouard (10 years), Michael Williams (25 years), Larry Hutchins (11 years), Michael Behenna (20 years), John Hatley (40 years), Joseph Mayo (20 years), Michael Leahy (20 years). …

There is, she says, an ‘urgent need for clemency in these cases’ –

– particularly given the mind-boggling fact that the United States has been granting clemency in Iraq to the most murderous detainees our soldiers were sent to fight in the first place. I’m not even referring to the thousands of “lower-level” detainees released over the past year or more from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. (A senior Iraq interior ministry official told AFP that the two suicide bombers and a majority of suspects in the Aug. 19 Baghdad bombings had recently been released from U.S.-run Camp Bucca.) I’m talking about high-level, known killers of Americans in Iraq, such as Laith al-Khazali, who, along with four fellow Iranian-backed operatives, was released in July. … Al-Khazali is a leader of Asaib al-Haq, an Iranian-backed “special group” that in 2007 kidnapped and killed five American soldiers. Later, the group kidnapped five British contractors, three of whom are known dead. Khazali’s release, a U.S. military spokesman told the New York Times, came as “part of a reconciliation effort between the government of Iraq and Asaib al-Haq.” How sweet. …

In September, more than 100 more Iraqi Shiites belonging to al-Khazali’s group were released. Also released this year was Mahmud Farhadi, whom Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal describes as a key Iranian leader in the Ramazan Corps, which, Roggio writes, “is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.”

I don’t mean to equate Iraqi and Iranian terrorists with U.S. soldiers. But I do mean to question a government that frees its enemies in a sham of “reconciliation” and leaves its soldiers to rot in a sham of “justice.”

And I challenge readers to do the same.