The U.S. Army sergeant accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, could face the death penalty if convicted, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who arrived in Afghanistan Wednesday for a two-day visit. As anti-American anger continues to boil, many Afghans say execution is the only appropriate punishment. President Obama has promised justice, saying Americans are as "heartbroken" over the killings as they would be if the victims were their own countrymen. In this case, is execution the right punishment?
No. Executing a deranged soldier is wrong: "This guy sounds like he absolutely lost it," says John Aravosis at America Blog. The suspected killer was apparently stressed out by the war zone's round-the-clock pressures, and just snapped. It would be one thing if we were talking about "some jerk taking out his frustrations" on innocent people, but we shouldn't be "killing a guy who literally lost his mind," especially if we'd be doing so just to "please the locals."
"Soldier could face death penalty in Afghan rampage killings, Panetta says"
But even soldiers think capital punishment is warranted: Afghans aren't the only ones calling for the death penalty, say Eloise Lee and Robert Johnson at Business Insider. One sergeant stationed in Afghanistan says anyone who would commit such crimes is "a disgrace" to his uniform. And U.S. troops are furiously posting to blogs saying good soldiers could die as a result of this crime, as they face violent retaliatory protests and increased enemy fire. As one Marine put it: "I'd definitely see putting the needle in his arm for this."
"What this weekend's rogue shooting in Afghanistan really means to U.S. soldiers"
Right or wrong, it won't happen: Before deploying to Afghanistan, this sergeant served three tours of duty in Iraq — where he suffered a brain injury when his vehicle rolled over, Georgetown war crimes expert Gary Solis tells Fox News. The military knows what combat stress and injuries can do to a person, and "the groundwork has been laid" for the suspect's lawyers to use an insanity defense. Never mind the death penalty — "it's hard to say whether the case will even go to trial."
"Accused soldier in Afghanistan shooting could face death penalty, plead insanity"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- How collaborative innovation led to the experimental serum for Ebola
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 10 things you need to know today: August 22, 2014
- Don't listen to Paul Ryan: The GOP is still the party of makers and takers
- ISIS and the echoes of the West's religious terror
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- The single best way to help your kid succeed at school
Subscribe to the Week