I recently received an email from Curtis Carnahan, the father of Sgt. Evan Vela, who, having served his country in Iraq is currently, and wrongly, serving a ten year sentence in prison. Mr. Carnahan asked me to look into his son's case because of the distinct parrallels between his son's wartime dilemma in Iraq and that of the SEAL team in Afghanistan that was immortalized by former SEAL Marcus Luttrell in the best-selling book Lone Survivor.
As Mr. Carnahan noted, I've written about the Luttrell case before in an attempt to call attention to the inverted morality of our military's rules of engagement that forced these SEALS into a situation in which it was against US law to save their own lives when their mission secrecy was compromised by their discovery, deep in Taliban territory, by two Afghan shepherds. Having decided to let the two Afghans go rather than kill them to save themselves and their mission--in part out of fear of prosecution back home!--three out of the four SEALS were themselves killed (with Luttrell being the "lone survivor") in a ferocious battle, and 16 other US special forces were shot down and killed during a failed rescue attempt. Nineteen brave Americans dead to uphold the blessed ROE.
Sgt. Vela, part of a small sniper team ordered for days into the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad, faced a similar situation when his team was discovered in their "hide" by an Iraqi man and his teenaged son. With Sunni insurgents nearby, and the man refusing to be quiet and still, Sgt. Vela was ordered to kill the man. He did so. The sniper team lived through the mission. Sgt. Vela was later charged and convicted of murder. In essence, what our country is saying is that it would have been a far, far better thing if Sgt. Vela and his team had been killed by Iraqi insurgents--in wartime with hostile forces all around them--rather than kill the one Iraqi man whose noise and lack of cooperation was a sure-thing to bring hostile fire on our men.
Please read this fine account of the story by Marcia Drezon-Tepler in the New York Daily News.
There is loads more here, including a link to information about helping in a drive for clemency for Sgt. Vela.
We're not going to have any army at all next time around, folks, if this is the way we treat the men who actually want to defend this country.