Tuesday, May 12, 2009

... and Wrong Victims

So, big deal. Sarge gets a little stressed out, gets wound a little tight, and pops a few folks. He's defending your freedom! He's keeping you safe! Hey, it's easy for you to criticize and second-guess, from your safe position behind the thin desert-camo-colored line! Errrrr, never mind, wait -- those weren't hajis he snuffed:
The U.S. soldier who allegedly gunned down five fellow troops at a stress clinic in Baghdad had had his weapon taken away from him within the last week because of concerns about his behavior, a senior U.S. military official said today.

Maj. Gen. David Perkins identified the suspect as Sgt. John M. Russell with the Army's 54th Engineer Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany. Russell was completing at least his third deployment to Iraq since the war began in 2003, he said.

"The commander of the suspect had taken his weapon away. He had been referred to counseling a week beforehand," Perkins told journalists at a briefing at the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. "There was a concern that he should not have a weapon."

The military has filed five murder charges and one charge of aggravated assault against Russell, Perkins said.

Authorities said Russell had not used his own weapon in the shootings, which took place Monday at Camp Liberty near Baghdad International Airport. The military is still trying to determine how he managed to get his hands on a gun, Perkins said.

Details of the incident are still being investigated, Perkins said. He declined to confirm accounts circulating in Washington that the suspect had visited the clinic earlier in the day, had an altercation and left, then returned later and managed to wrestle a weapon from his escort before opening fire.

The five victims included two members of the clinic's medical staff and three enlisted soldiers. The military has not released their identities pending notification of their relatives.

The military has also opened an inquiry into the availability of health services and counseling to determine if steps could have been taken to prevent the killings.
If that "military inquiry" wants some free consulting, I have a step or two that might have been taken to prevent this tragedy. Of course, my steps would tend to involve obvious impracticalities such as the dismantling of the U.S. empire. I'm sure they'll do something much more sensible, such as adding another PowerPoint training package. Be All That You Can Be ... An Army of One ... Army Schtrong ... and Don't Cap Your Fellow Soldiers. That'll do the trick.

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