US army soldiers of Task Force 3-66 Bravo Company of 172 Infantry Brigade walk towards the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kuschamond on September 12, 2011 in Kuschamond, Paktika province. Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
As the world reacts to news of an allegedly lone American soldier going off base and killing 16 Afghan civilians early Sunday morning, we look ahead at the judicial options. Will the suspect be court marshaled before a military tribunal, or could such a case go before a civilian court? Critics of military tribunals often argue that they are too lenient and point to the Marines Corps’ recent “discharge under honorable conditions” of former staff sergeant Frank Wuterich, who pleaded guilty to negligent dereliction of duty in the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqis in 2005.
Could the current status of forces agreement, which provides that U.S. soldiers are exempt from Afghan law affect the judicial options at hand? And how do issues of mental health historically play out similarly or dissimilarly in military and civilian courts?
Lieutenant Colonel Hal Kempfer, retired Marine Lt. Col., CEO, KIPP, homeland security consulting firm
Colonel Morris Davis, professor, Howard University Law School, chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 – 2007
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