Sniper Hung Out to Dry

In another sad episode from the Iraqi front US Army sniper Seargant Evan Vela was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian and planting evidence on his body. Here are a few excerpts from the court martial:
Vela, who is from St. Anthony, Idaho, wept on the witness stand Saturday as he described shooting al-Janabi after he stumbled upon the snipers' hiding place near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad.

"I don't remember pulling the trigger. I don't remember the sound of the shot," Vela said in a near whisper, thumbing the hem of his camouflage jacket and looking straight ahead. "It took me a few seconds to realize that the shot came from my pistol."

He testified that after he shot al-Janabi, he tried to shoot him again because "he was convulsing on the ground and I thought he might be suffering."

"I just didn't want him to suffer. It was something I've never seen and I got a bit scared," Vela said. The second shot missed the man.

James Culp, Vela's attorney, had unsuccessfully argued that Vela was too sleep deprived to know what he was doing.

"This was an accident waiting to happen," Culp told the jury of seven men and one woman in his closing argument Sunday. "What happened on May 11 is clear: These men were extremely, extremely sleep deprived and nobody was thinking clearly."

Vela and his sniper team had hiked through rough terrain and slept less than five hours in the 72-hours leading up to the killing, the defense said.

Culp also called two medical experts who testified that Vela was suffering from acute sleep deprivation and exhaustion. They said he later lied about the events in part because he suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome.

On Friday, Vela's commanding officer testified that he ordered Vela to kill al-Janabi, saying that was the only way to ensure the safety of his men in hostile territory.
I read the whole article with much sadness in my heart for Seargant Vela and our men who are fighting in Iraq. Sleep deprivation is an issue that these men deal with. They consume cases of Red Bull just to keep awake and alert because they can come under attack from insurgeants at any time. They live under the dread of death 24x7.. and when they make a mistake of war they are hung out to dry by the same government that sent them into battle. I find it sad how politcal this war has become.. how spineless leaders hang our guys out to dry just to appease the Iraqi politicians.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply. You can click here to see my comment policy.