Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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May 25

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 7:49 AM 

How's this for (twisted) mirror images?

Pfc. David Lawrence  shot and killed a Taliban commander shackled in a US prison cell in Afghanistan in October 2010. Army-appointed psychiatrists determined Lawrence

suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia and therefore lacked the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.

Still, Lawrence was charged with premeditated murder in the Oct. 17 slaying of Mullah Mohebullah.... The shooting happened shortly after Lawrence was returned to his unit following a visit he requested to a combat stress clinic.

Despite the diagnosis, the US Army scheduled a court-martial on a murder charge. This morning, right about now, Lawrence is expected to plead guilty in a deal that will lead to a shortened prison sentence. In other words, instead of life in prison or the death penalty, he'll get a mere 15 or 20 years, I'm guessing. [Update: He was sentenced to 12 1/2 years.]Meanwhile, of course, countless Afghans who have killed and/or maimed Americans have been granted full clemency by the US just since Lawrence was arrested; but that's another twisted story.

Lawrence's attorney, James Culp, had attempted to block an Article 32 hearing in late November, which was held to determine whether there was enough evidence to send the case to a court-martial, arguing that a separate inquiry into Lawrence's mental health should be completed first. An Army hearing officer, Capt. David Thompson, turned down that request and, in a later ruling, found no grounds "to believe that the accused was not mentally responsible for the offense" or "not competent to participate in the defense."

As a result, Lawrence faced a court-martial on the charge and the possibility of life in prison or death.

Lawrence's family has a history of schizophrenia.

Now, through the looking-glass.

The trial of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born Carlos Bledsoe) for killing Pvt. William Long and severely wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula outside a Little Rock military recruiting station in 2009 is slated to begin in July. As I note in this week's upcoming column, the case is currently subject to a tug-of-war between lawyers and defendant Muhammad, who from the moment of his arrest declared the shooting to be an act of jihad.

State psychiatrists have deemed Muhammad to be sane. Muhammed says he's sane. Muhammad's defense attorneys want him to plead insanity. The judge won't let Muhammad fire his attorneys.

Behold, the US Government Narrative coming together: Throw the book at the battle-stressed, schizophrenic soldier when he loses his mind  and kills a Taliban commander in custody; certainly don't hold a separate inquiry into the soldier's state of mind. At the same time, maybe that sane-certified, self-avowed jihadist who attacked the United States in Little Rock wasn't a terrorist on a jihad after all, but rather "nothing but a street thug," as the prosecuotr insists, in need of psychiatric counseling, as the defense insists (and the judge apparently concurs) ....

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