A senior enlisted Army soldier was convicted on Wednesday of killing four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi men with pistol shots to the backs of their heads shortly after arresting them in Baghdad two years ago, The Associated Press reported.
A military jury in Germany, where his unit is deployed, found the soldier, Master Sgt. John E. Hatley, guilty of premeditated murder in the deaths of the men, whom he and several other members of his unit had detained after a firefight with insurgents in Baghdad in spring 2007, according to testimony in the case.
Who is Master Sgt. John E. Hatley? Attaturk has the 411:
If you cannot place the name, Master Sgt. Hatley was the direct superior of Pvt. Scott Beauchamp and the person most used to discredit (along with the gay porn star) the New Republic diary of the life of a soldier in Iraq and the ways they dealt with the pressures of Operation Clusterfuck.
Stars and Stripes gives more details of what the NCO who, in a moment of bold understatement, claimed to be “no angel” did to earn his conviction:
Capt. John Riesenberg, assistant government trial counsel, told the jury that their sentence should be aimed at stopping other first sergeants and soldiers from doing what the Company A soldiers did.
“Send a message to the world that this is an army that recognizes that it is different, that American soldiers just don’t do this. They don’t execute detainees in the middle of the night by shooting them in the back of the head when they are bound and blindfolded and dump their bodies in a canal,” he said.
The killings occurred in March or April of 2007.
It was Hatley’s idea to kill the detainees, Riesenberg said.
“A first sergeant in the U.S. Army came up with the idea to commit a brutal execution-style murder of detainees and he did it with his own men. He failed them, the Army, the Iraqi people and the American war effort,” Riesenberg said.
Except some American soldiers quite obviously do “execute detainees in the middle of the night by shooting them in the back of the head when they are bound and blindfolded and dump their bodies in a canal,” along with many other casual atrocities that get swept into the dustbin of history; such uncomfortable facts may not fit with the illusory narrative of duty, honour and exceptional virtue, but they DO occur, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
Yeah, well, wevs–at least there still isn’t concrete proof that they ran over any dogs.
As John Cole acidly notes, “That isn’t SOP.”
Related: More things that soldiers “just don’t do”: Heather Benedict on how women serving on the frontlines face the threat of sexual violence–from their fellow troops.