The re-conviction of Sgt. Hutchins is the right message.Mongol General: What is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.
- Raping natives who gave water to the prisoners of war being forced marched.
- Pulling soldiers at random from the line, some for beheading (sound familiar?), and others for bayonet practice.
- Refusing to allow those marching to stop, so that they had no choice but to march as they defecated and urinated on themselves.
- Failing to provide medical aid and care to sick and wounded soldiers.
- Denying basic sanitation and water to POWs.
Kill the poys and the luggage! tis expressly against the law of arms: 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery, mark you now, as can be offer't; in your conscience, now, is it not?
'Tis certain there's not a boy left alive; and the cowardly rascals that ran from the battle ha' done this slaughter: besides, they have burned and carried away all that was in the king's tent; wherefore the king, most worthily, hath caused every soldier to cut his prisoner's throat. O, 'tis a gallant king!
Act IV, Scene VIIAnd there you have it. Even a Welshman is surprised to find the errant knavery of breaches of the laws of war amongst his French enemies. That law of arms, or what we call the Law of War, serves to limit conflicts in time, in scope, in targets. The Law of War protects the weak and vulnerable, including the elderly, infirm, sick, children and other non-combatants.
The appellant was assigned as squad leader for 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, assigned to Task Force Chromite, conducting counter-insurgency operations in the Hamdaniyah area of Iraq in April 2006. In the evening hours of 25 April 2006, the appellant led a combat patrol to conduct a deliberate ambush aimed at interdicting insurgent emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The court-martial received testimony from several members of the squad that indicated the intended ambush mission morphed into a conspiracy to deliberately capture and kill a high value individual (HVI), believed to be a leader of the insurgency. The witnesses gave varying testimony as to the depth of their understanding of alternative targets, such as family members of the HVI or another random military aged Iraqi male.
Considerable effort and preparation went into the execution of this conspiracy. Tasks were accomplished by various Marines and their corpsman, including the theft of a shovel and AK-47 from an Iraqi dwelling to be used as props to manufacture a scene where it appeared that an armed insurgent was digging to emplace an IED. Some squad members advanced to the ambush site while others captured an unknown Iraqi man, bound and gagged him, and brought him to the would-be IED emplacement.
The stage set, the squad informed higher headquarters by radio that they had come upon an insurgent planting an IED and received approval to engage. The squad opened fire, mortally wounding the man. The appellant approached the victim and fired multiple rifle rounds into the man’s face at point blank range.
The scene was then manipulated to appear consistent with the insurgent/IED story. The squad removed the bindings from the victim’s hands and feet and positioned the victim’s body with the shovel and AK-47 rifle they had stolen from local Iraqis. To simulate that the victim fired on the squad, the Marines fired the AK-47 rifle into the air and collected the discharged casings. When questioned about the action, the appellant, like other members of the squad, made false official statements, describing the situation as a legitimate ambush and a “good shoot.” The death was brought to the appellant’s battalion commander’s attention by a local sheikh and the ensuing investigation led to the case before us.